Whiplash Compensation UK
Whiplash Compensation UK
Whiplash Compensation UK has been created to help victims of whiplash find out more about claiming compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured in a road traffic accident that was not entirely your fault, and have suffered whiplash injuries which have been diagnosed by a doctor, you could well be entitled to claim whiplash compensation.
In the UK, whiplash compensation is the basis of many personal injury compensation claims, and is the main reason for making a personal injury compensation claim following a road traffic accident. It has been estimated that whiplash compensation UK payments amount to three quarters of all motor injury compensation awards.
What are Whiplash Injuries?
Despite the prevalence of whiplash injuries, the exact mechanism which causes the injury is largely unknown. Research suggests that the force from a rear impact causes an excessive strain on the spine which leads to a deformation, which in turn strains the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the neck. In mild cases whiplash can be just a simple sprain causing mild discomfort and nothing more. In other cases the damages can be severe, cause intense pain and can even involve damage to the brain.
Whiplash is a non medical term used to describe a wide range of soft tissue injuries to the neck, with the most common medical term for whiplash injuries sustained in a road traffic accident being cervical acceleration-deceleration injuries.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Whiplash injuries can be present with no symptoms at all, or may be the cause of considerable pain. There is frequently weakness in the muscles of the neck, with stiffness and difficulty moving, and the neck can become swollen. Shooting pains and headaches are also common, with the severity of the symptoms usually reflecting the seriousness of the injuries. Sometimes whiplash symptoms can mask an underlying problem, such as damage to the spinal cord or fractures to the bones. These underlying injuries may not be diagnosed initially, and it may be years later that they come to light.
One of the main treatments for whiplash injuries is simply rest, with the head and neck supported and kept immobilised, such as with the use of a cervical collar. Since the symptoms of whiplash can persevere for some time, there can be a considerable loss of income as a result of the condition and home care is often required.
The severity of whiplash is categorised as minor, moderate and severe, although medically the injuries are assigned a grade. Grade zero being slight stiffness in the neck up to grade 4 whiplash which involves dislocation, fractures and an injury to the spinal cord or brain.
Common Causes of Whiplash Injuries
Motorcycle and car accidents are the leading causes of whiplash injuries in the UK; however whiplash injuries are not exclusive to road traffic victims. Any accident which causes a sudden distortion of the neck can cause whiplash, such as falling off a chair. Whiplash is not only caused by high speed accidents, and simply hitting a pothole and falling of a bicycle can be enough to cause whiplash injuries.
Whiplash is usually associated with a rear end smash in road traffic accidents, where the force of impact sends the body and head forward, extending the neck and causing soft tissue damage. When the neck is damaged, the head cannot be properly supported and the damage can rapidly deteriorate and become far more serious.
Whiplash injuries may not be immediately apparent, and despite being a little shaken up by an accident, many people fail to seek medical attention immediately only to experience intense pain the following day or even a few days later. During the intervening time, further damage can be done resulting in a longer period of recovery and in some cases even permanent disability.
Whiplash Compensation and UK Accident Statistics
According to the Department for Transport, road traffic accidents and injuries are falling. Injuries such as whiplash fell by 7 percent over the last 12 months, with 133,205 casualties reported to the police. The figures are 7 percent lower than in 2009, but road traffic also fell by 2% over the same period. Motorcycle accidents similarly showed a decline, but the 10 percent drop on the year was matched by a 10% reduction of motorcycle traffic. Motorcycle accidents and the often serious whiplash injuries that they entail, can therefore be considered unchanged.
Who is Entitled to Claim UK Whiplash Compensation?
In order to claim UK whiplash compensation, you must have suffered a whiplash injury due to the negligence of a third party. Accidents happen which are nobody's fault and, when one person is accountable for the accident taking place, there can be no basis for a whiplash compensation claim. If the accident was caused at least partly by somebody else, either through their actions such as reckless driving, or inaction such as the local authority's failure to maintain the road surface, you could well be eligible to claim compensation for your injuries.
In a road traffic whiplash compensation claims it is necessary to prove that "on the balance of probabilities" the accident and injuries were caused by at least one third party, and that a competent and attentive driver could have avoided the accident. If this is the case, provided a claim is initiated within the correct legal time frame, you should be able to claim compensation for your injuries.
The Whiplash Compensation UK Claims Process
When pursuing a claim for whiplash compensation, UK solicitors will first establish that there has been third party negligence and that the injuries sustained were caused by that negligence. Compensation damages will be calculated, and a claim letter will be sent to the defendants advising them of the claim. The defendant is provided with a month to respond, and is allowed to prepare a defence against the claim.
In clear cases of negligence, the claims process can be fairly quick; however when negligence is disputed or when damages cannot be agreed, the case can take considerably longer. If no resolution can be reached between lawyers and insurers, the compensation claim will be taken to the UK courts. A judge will then be responsible for deciding the outcome of the case, and the level of compensation which must be paid.
Many TV advertisements suggest that claiming compensation is a quick and simple process; however frequently claims for whiplash compensation in the UK can become highly complicated, and can take many months before compensation is paid. Having an experienced personal injury solicitor to pursue the case can seriously improve the chances of success, and will usually also increase the amount of compensation which is awarded.
Procedures to Follow after a Whiplash Injury
Following any road traffic accident it is of paramount important to visit a doctor to determine whether you have sustained any injuries. Internal injuries may not be immediately apparent and, even though you may not be in any pain, you may still have sustained a whiplash injury. Even minor collisions and low velocity crashes can cause whiplash injuries, and the symptoms may take a few days to appear. A doctor will examine your head and neck and will use imaging tests to check for fractures. He will usually recommend that a cervical brace is to be worn. This is fitted around the neck to ensure that the head and neck are supported and further damage is not sustained.
Reporting your injuries to the proper authorities and seeking medical treatment is important should you decide to make a claim for whiplash compensation. UK defence lawyers may view a delayed medical diagnosis as personal negligence, with the patient contributing to the severity of the injuries by a lack of a personal duty of care to their own health.
In order to claim whiplash injury compensation, UK laws state that the accident must be reported to the proper authorities. A police report needs to be made, and even if the accident was not severe enough to warrant the police to attend the scene, you must make a formal report at the earliest opportunity by visiting the local police station.
Your appointed personal injury solicitor will use your medical record as proof of the injuries when filing a claim for personal injury compensation, and the police report will used as evidence that the accident took place.
What to Do Next
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and have suffered whiplash injuries, or have damaged your neck in a fall which was not entirely your fault, you may be eligible to claim compensation and you should seek legal advice.
Many whiplash compensation UK claims can be pursued on a "No Win No Fee" basis, and our panel of solicitors will be happy to give you a free consultation, assess your eligibility to claim, and will advise you of our No Win No Fee legal services.