Road traffic accidents are the most common causes of a whiplash injury, although it can be caused by sports accidents, slips, trips and falls. Whiplash is caused by the neck/head being extended or strained beyond its normal range of movement as a result of a sudden jolt. It results in the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the neck becoming damaged.
The accident that results in the whiplash does not have to be severe. Soft collision road traffic accidents, from the front, side or the back can all result in a whiplash injury although the most common causes for whiplash injury are collisions from behind and women are more susceptible to whiplash injury because their necks are weaker.
Common symptoms of whiplash are as follows:
The symptoms of whiplash can present themselves immediately or they can take a couple of hours, if not days to appear. You should, therefore, seek medical advice as soon as you are involved in a road traffic accident. The recovery time for whiplash injuries varies depending upon the force of the impact. It can range from a few weeks to several months and in serious cases can take a few years.
If you have suffered a whiplash injury then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation, particularly if it occurred in a road traffic accident, as road users have a duty of care towards the health and safety of other drivers. The amount of compensation you could receive for your whiplash injury will depend on the seriousness of the injury (including recovery time), taking into account government guidelines and the amount of compensation that has been awarded by the courts in previously decided whiplash injury claims. You can also claim for any consequential loss you have suffered such as prescriptions costs, physiotherapy, damage to clothing or property and any present or future loss of income.
In bringing a claim for whiplash you have to prove that you have suffered as a result of the accident and that you were not at fault for the accident. To do this you will require the assistance of a personal injury solicitor. A personal injury solicitor will investigate your case, arrange for medical evidence to be produced and will take statements from you, any other occupants of the vehicle and any witnesses of the accident.
If liability is admitted, or your personal injury solicitor can prove that the other side was negligent then they can negotiate the actual amount of compensation you are entitled to with negligent party’s insurance company. If they cannot agree on a settlement amount then you may have to take the case to court. Any court claim has to be issued within three years of the date of the accident (or by their 21st birthday in the case of a child) and therefore you should appoint a personal injury solicitor soon after the accident in case litigation is necessary.
When appointing a personal injury solicitor you should make sure they have experience in dealing with whiplash injuries, although because whiplash claims have become so common most personal injury solicitors will be able to take on your case. Personal injury solicitors will usually work on your case on a no win no fee agreement, more formally known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Accordingly, if you appoint a personal injury solicitor to deal with your case you will not have to pay your legal fees if you lose and should you win your legal fees will be paid by the negligent party’s insurance company.