How much compensation can you claim for whiplash?
If you have suffered a whiplash injury following an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
How much compensation you are awarded can depend on a variety of factors, with the payout being determined by things like how severe your injury is, the level of treatment you require, how much work you have missed because of the injury, the impact the injury has had on your day to day life and so on.
No two claims are ever the same when it comes to whiplash, so it is important that you know as much as possible. Below we have put together a complete guide detailing everything you need to know about whiplash claims and compensation amounts.
Average whiplash compensation payouts
The amount of compensation you could be awarded for whiplash depends mostly on how severe your injury is and how long the effects last for.
Below is a general guideline for UK compensation awards for whiplash injuries:
Neck pain for a few weeks to a year – £850 – £2,900
Neck pain for up to 2 years – £2,900 – £5,200
Neck pain for a few years with risk of the pain returning – £5,900 – £9,000
Permanent or recurring neck pain and stiffness – £9,000 – £16,000
Severe neck pain and permanent damage to the cervical spine – up to £97,500
You can also make a compensation claim for any expenses you incurred as a result of sustaining a whiplash injury.
Details of the expenses you can claim are as follows:
Compensation for vehicle collision damage
If you have suffered a whiplash injury, it is likely that your car sustained damage as well. If so, you are entitled to claim back the cost of repairs to your car.
Furthermore, if you car was written off i.e. the damage was so severe it would cost more that the vehicle is worth to repair, then your compensation claim can include the current market value of the car (based on factors like the age of the car, the condition it was in and the mileage etc…).
Cost of vehicle hire
If you needed a hire vehicle to get about while your car was being repaired, then again the costs of this can be included as an expense in your claim for compensation.
Loss of use of vehicle
If you chose not to hire a replacement vehicle while your car was being repaired, then you can make a claim for ‘loss of use’ – which is typically a sum of money calculated at an approved daily rate.
Vehicle credit repair and hire
Another option available to you to have your car fixed and get a replacement is to enter into a legal credit agreement to pay for your repairs and hire costs. Again, these costs can be claimed back as part of your expenses.
Vehicle recovery expense
Following the accident that caused your whiplash injury, you may have had to pay to have your vehicle recovered and taken to a garage. If so, the recovery costs can be included in your compensation claim.
Vehicle storage expense
Sometimes you may incur storage charges while your damaged and undriveable vehicle is awaiting repairs. This amount is often capped at a certain level to avoid the costs becoming too great.
Loss of fuel
Having a tank full of petrol when your car is written off is often the last thing on a claimant’s mind, but the fact is you are subsequently out of pocket by a significant amount due to the negligence of someone else – so you are entitled to submit a claim for it.
Travel expenses can be incurred following a road traffic accident – maybe you had to get a taxi or bus to complete your journey or to get to the hospital to check on your whiplash injury.
Remember to keep your travel receipts and tickets so that these costs can be included in your compensation claim.
If you have had to pay for medical treatment for your injuries, which includes costs for pain relief, then you entitled to claim this back. Again, make sure you keep receipts for any costs you incurred.
Loss of income
It’s quite common for whiplash sufferers to require a certain amount of rest time in order for the injury to heal. If this means that you have to miss work, and therefore lose out on income, then you can add your lost earnings to your compensation claim.
Care and assistance expenses
This is another area that is often overlooked in whiplash compensation claims. If any friends or family members were required to provide care and assistance as you recovered from your injury, then you can include an hourly rate in your claim to pay for their time.
Loss of holiday
If you had a holiday booked prior to your accident and were unable to go, you can claim back the cost of your holiday.
You can also claim loss of enjoyment if you went on your holiday but failed to enjoy yourself due to suffering with injuries relating to your accident.
Symptoms of whiplash do not always materialise immediately, and it is common for symptoms to not develop for up to 12 hours.
The bruising and inflammation on the neck can also not show immediately after the accident, so a lot of sufferers tend to be unaware that they have suffered whiplash until the day after the accident.
The most common whiplash symptoms are:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Tenderness of the neck muscles
- Reduced neck movements
- Painful neck movements
Some less common symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain and numbness in arms and hands
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
Whiplash is a term for the ligaments in the neck spraining after the head has been forced forwards and backwards violently – usually when a vehicle has been hit in the rear – causing the neck to ‘whip’ forcibly.
It is usually the case that the damaged ligaments can heal over a relatively short space of time – often after a few days – but in more severe cases the symptoms can persist and the whiplash can become a chronic condition.
The symptoms of chronic whiplash are:
- Long term neck pain and stiffness
- Persistent headaches
- Pins and needles
- Anxiety and depression
If you are suffering from whiplash-related symptoms following an accident, then there are certain actions you should take to help aid recovery and provide some relief to the pain.
First of all you should visit your GP as soon as the whiplash symptoms become apparent – this will help you get an accurate diagnosis and medical report for your whiplash claim, as well as enabling your doctor to arrange for treatment.
In severe cases your GP may refer you to a physiotherapist or recommend an MRI or CT scan to check for more serious injuries like broken bones or spinal complications.
What does whiplash feel like?
We’ve all experienced some form of headache or neck pain at some point, and a whiplash injury is not to different to this – although it can sometimes be a bit more intense and also result in restricted flexibility and movement of the neck, shoulders and head.
Due to the nature of a whiplash injury, it can often take a few hours for the symptoms to appear. Some people feel the pain and restricted movement immediately after the accident, whereas others don’t feel any pain or stiffness until the next day.
How long does a whiplash injury last?
In the majority of whiplash cases, the symptoms clear up on their own – sometimes in a matter of days, others after a few months of slight stiffness and pain.
Sometimes though the whiplash symptoms can persist for years and even cause further problems – these cases the condition is referred to as ‘chronic whiplash’.
What are the causes of whiplash?
Whiplash is understandably most commonly associated with road traffic accidents – particularly car crashes that involved a car hitting another in the rear. This impact can cause a sudden jot to the neck, ‘whipping’ the head back and forth in a violent motion, causing the neck ligaments to strain and become hyper extended.
While car accidents account for the majority of whiplash cases, the injury can also be caused by falling off bicycles and horses.
Anyone who has suffered from whiplash will know that proper treatment is essential to make sure you recover as soon as possible.
Some of the most common forms of whiplash treatment are:
Physiotherapy – If your whiplash symptoms persist beyond a few days, then a course of physiotherapy may be recommended in order to help relieve the pain and restore full movement. A range of massage and manipulation techniques will be employed to help the blood flow more easily through the affected area and encourage the healing process.
Painkillers – These may be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms, particularly if your head and neck are in severe pain for an extended period of time. Most cases of whiplash can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, although if your condition is more severe than your GP may prescribe something a bit stronger like a codeine-bases painkiller.
Good posture & exercise – There are a lot of specific exercises to alleviate whiplash that you can do, as well as general exercise like walking. If you do this with a good posture – making sure your back is straight – then you can rapidly speed up the recovery process.
Other whiplash treatment tips
Posture – You should always try to maintain good posture by keeping your back straight whilst sitting, standing and walking.
Support Pillow – A firm, supportive pillow can be used to help whilst sleeping.
Exercises and Stretches – Simple and gentle exercises and stretches can be done at home. A doctor or physiotherapist will advise you on which exercises you should do at home to aid recovery. Some examples of whiplash exercises are the following:
- Sit or stand with your back and neck straight and your shoulders back slightly
- Tuck your chin in until you feel a stretch in your neck, which does not cause pain
- Hold this for 2 seconds
- Repeat 10 times daily
Shoulder Pain Squeezes:
- Sit or stand with your back straight
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard and for as long as possible, again, without any pain
- Hold for 5 seconds
- Repeat 10 times a day
- Sit or stand with your back and neck straight, with your shoulders back slightly
- Turn your head to look over one shoulder until you feel a slight stretch, causing no pain
- Keep your neck straight whilst doing this and do not allow your head to come forward
- Repeat the movement looking over the other shoulder
- Repeat 10 times over each shoulder