Whiplash is a painful and uncomfortable condition to have to deal with at best, at worst it could leave you with mobility issues, headaches and nausea for weeks or even months. Having to put up with it, or look after a child who has it, would be stressful, and infuriating if it was caused by the negligent behaviour of someone else. Fortunately you can be compensated for what has happened to you.
If you are reading this article you may be suffering from a case of whiplash sustained in a car accident and are thinking about seeking compensation. You may be wondering “How can you prove your whiplash injuries are genuine?” This article is a guide which seeks to answer that very question by explaining what evidence will be needed to make a successful claim and how that can be obtained. It also seeks to inform you of how the process of claiming compensation for a whiplash injury works.
As well as giving you the information you need about how seeking compensation for a whiplash injury, we can also provide you with a no win no fee personal injury lawyer who can manage your case. These solicitors can help you win compensation for your injuries without taking a big financial risk in doing so. If you want to know more, then please read on through the rest of this guide.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Proving That You Sustained A Whiplash Injury
- What Is A Whiplash Injury?
- How Can You Prove Whiplash – Tell Tale Signs And Symptoms
- Can You Claim Compensation For Whiplash Without Seeing A Doctor?
- Diagnosing Whiplash Injuries
- Will Whiplash Show Up On An MRI, CT Or X-Ray?
- How May Whiplash Be Treated?
- Why Do I Need To Have Proof Of My Whiplash Injury?
- How Is Whiplash Compensation Calculated?
- What Do Special Damages Compensate You For?
- No Win No Fee Whiplash Personal Injury Claims
- Why Choose Accident Claims UK To Handle Your Whiplash Case?
- Talk To Accident Claims UK Today
- Related Claims Guides And Medical Information
This article will describe what a whiplash injury is, what causes it and what its effects are on the body. We will talk about what kind of symptoms you will feel if you have it and signs for you to look for to spot it. We will explain how a whiplash injury can be officially diagnosed by a medical professional and what steps you can take to relieve your symptoms and hasten your recovery.
Since the primary purpose of this article is to explain how the diagnosis of whiplash will relate to your ability to claim compensation for it, we will explain why a doctor’s diagnosis of whiplash is the key to making a claim. And we will also explain why you need to be able to prove someone else’s responsibility for the accident which caused the whiplash, and how you can go about it.
The guide will then talk about compensation. There are two factors which go into how much compensation your claim will be worth. One is the severity of the injury itself; the other is the financial and emotional impact it has had on you.
Finally we will go over how our personal injury solicitors can help you and the benefits of making a no win no fee claim with them.
Whiplash is a type of injury you can suffer to your neck. It is what happens when the soft tissues in your neck: the ligaments, and tendons which connect muscles and bones, get pulled or torn by hard and sudden movements of the head. Muscles and nerves in the neck can also be damaged by whiplash. This is essentially the same kind of injury that occurs in wrist and ankle sprains, so whiplash is also sometimes referred to as neck sprain.
Whiplash injuries are most commonly caused by car accidents, especially rear ending accidents, but they can also be caused by injuries in contact sports and are also associated with child abuse, where shaking a child can cause them. For more information about car accident claims go here.
Whiplash injuries are not life threatening and often they have no lasting effects after a few weeks have passed except in severe cases. However they can be very painful and can significantly impair your ability to go about your normal activities in the short term. The symptoms of whiplash will not normally manifest until several hours have passed since the accident, sometimes not until the day after and may continue to worsen over the next few days.
There may be bruising or swelling along with abrasions on or around your neck which manifest in the hours and days following your accident. The symptoms which will impact you will be stiffness and soreness in your neck, making it difficult and painful to turn your head. You may also experience headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, blurred sight, some memory loss and discomfort or difficulty swallowing and drinking. Beyond your head and your neck you may also experience numbness, pins and needles and involuntary muscle twitches and spasms in your arms and hands.
The most severe symptoms (i.e tinnitus or memory loss) should be the first to clear up, if they do not recede after just a few days you should get in touch with your GP. If your child has whiplash and exhibits these symptoms then you take them to A&E at once.
Needless to say these symptoms will likely cause you difficulty going about your day to day activities and probably force you to take time off work until you have recovered. You can find more medical information about how whiplash injuries occur, what they do to the body and how to treat them here. For more detailed and useful information about how we can deal with whiplash personal injury claims, go to this page.
There are specific symptoms to look out for which can be proof you have a whiplash injury. Proving whether or not someone really has manifested these symptoms is how you can tell if someone is faking whiplash. These are the things which a doctor will be looking for as part of diagnosing whether or not you have a case of whiplash.
- Tenderness in certain spots on the neck
- Soreness in the neck which grows more severe when you try to turn your head
- Feelings of fatigue
- Irritable moods
- Difficulty concentrating
- Pain and muscle spasms in your neck, shoulders and arms
We recommend that you see a doctor before attempting to claim compensation for a whiplash injury. Even though you may be exhibiting distinctive whiplash symptoms your word alone would not be sufficient proof of whiplash for a personal injury claim. A doctor would have to officially diagnose you with whiplash in order for you to have any real chance of making a successful claim for compensation.
You should always get yourself seen by a doctor as soon as you can whenever you have been in a severe accident even if you don’t feel as though you have been seriously hurt. However it is especially important in cases where you may wish to make a personal injury claim. The sooner you have been seen by a doctor the better it will be for your case as it will show that you felt the need for medical attention immediately, rather than give the impression that you waited to decide to make a claim before seeking a doctors assessment.
Our solicitors can arrange for you to be seen by a doctor for this assessment as a part of going through the personal injury claims process.
In order to determine whether or not you have whiplash your doctor will perform a physical examination on your head, neck and shoulders as well as asking you questions. If you do have whiplash be aware that the exam may necessitate a degree of discomfort and pain. The doctor will touch various parts of your neck and your shoulders to determine whereabouts you are experiencing tenderness, if any. They will try to move your neck, head and shoulders to determine what range of motion you have and how painful it is for you to move. They will also ask you to perform certain movements and tasks with your arms to see if they have been affected by weakness, spasms, numbness or reduced reflexes.
They will ask you questions throughout the examination, asking you if you are in pain when attempting certain motions or being touched in certain areas and to what degree. This will not only determine whether or not you have whiplash but also what degree of severity of whiplash you have. The doctor may also request an MRI, CT scan or an X-ray.
Most different types of scans will not usually detect signs of whiplash injuries as they are not designed to pick up damage to the soft tissues which whiplash effects. However doctors may request scans in order to either detect or rule out other forms of injuries, such as bone fractures, which may be causing your symptoms instead of or as well as whiplash. Here is a page on bone fracture compensation claims which can be useful.
X-rays are primarily designed to make images of the bones, they are not ideal for detecting the signs of whiplash in the necks soft tissues. The doctors will use X rays to detect signs of dislocation or fractures in your neck which might have been caused by the accident. X-rays can also pick up signs of arthritis in the neck which may also be having an effect.
CT-Scans, which stands for Computerised Tomography, is used to create detailed 3D images of the inside of the affected body part of the patient. It is performed by taking numerous X-ray scans from multiple different angles. These can produce images which detect bone damage and other issues which traditional X-Rays could miss. Like X-rays, CT scans can pick up signs of fractures and dislocations in the neck but are poorly suited to detecting damage in soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments.
One form of scan which can identify the signs of whiplash is an MRI scan. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI scans use magnetic fields and radio waves to form an image as opposed to CT scans and X rays which use electromagnetic radiation. Newer forms of MRI scanning can pick up images of soft tissue just as easily as they can pick up bones. An MRI scan will most likely show images of the injuries to your tendons and ligaments if you have them. This would be ideal evidence for proving that you really have suffered from whiplash.
Whiplash is unlikely to have permanent effects lasting more than a few weeks unless it is very severe and/or connected to injuries in your spine. Unfortunately there is no treatment which can rectify your injuries besides waiting for them to heal by themselves, so you will have to tolerate the pain and discomfort for however long it takes for them to heal naturally. That being said there are steps that can be taken and may be prescribed by your doctor which can reduce the pain and discomfort and hasten your recovery.
- The pain caused by a whiplash injury comes from the torn or pulled ligaments, tendons and muscles in your neck. Sadly there isn’t any way to fix this overnight so you will have to wait until they heal. Taking painkillers can ease this aspect of your recovery. Any over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen will do the job. In worse cases anti-depressant medications containing muscle relaxants or painkiller injections may be prescribed to you.
- Rest: In the early stages of whiplash it is better to rest your neck, though you will need to be more mobile later on.
- Temperature: According to your own preference you could apply a heat pack or some ice to your neck for 15 minute intervals six times a day. This can help relieve the soreness and help your neck to heal. Taking hot showers can also help.
- Exercise: Your doctor may instruct you to perform a course of exercises and stretches. Keeping your neck moving regularly may be painful, but will assist your recovery better than keeping it still all the time. This will likely consist of rotating your neck, bending your neck, tilting and turning your head and rolling your shoulders.
- Physical therapy: If your recovery from whiplash proves particularly difficult then your doctor may prescribe you to undergo a course of physical therapy to help you regain your full range of motion in your neck, head and shoulders. A professional physical therapist will guide you through lessons which will encourage your muscles and other soft tissues to heal and get stronger.
- Foam collar: As mentioned already exercising your neck and shoulders is the best way to speed up your full recovery. Keeping the neck and head still might be counterproductive to this. Foam cervical collars used to be commonly prescribed as it was thought that they would help the neck to heal, it is now known that this isn’t necessarily the case. However your doctor may still prescribe you one to wear while you are healing. How and when you wear it will depend on what instructions your doctor gives you. They may require you to wear it for the first few days after the injury and then remove it, or they may ask you to wear it intermittently for a few hours every day for a few weeks.
Other treatments which your doctor is unlikely to prescribe but which you may find helpful may include:
- Chiropractic treatment: Chiropractic treatment is an alternative medicine based around massaging and manipulating the joints and spine. Chiropractic is controversial and is not widely considered to be beneficial for most forms of illnesses and injuries. It can cause problems when applied to an already injured spine, however when paired with physical therapy and exercise it may assist with your recovery.
- Acupuncture: The practice of inserting needles into the patient’s skin in order to provide pain relief. It is sometimes used as an alternative to physical therapy when dealing with arthritis. You may find it helps with the pain caused by whiplash.
- Massages: Receiving a professional massage to your neck and shoulders might provide pain relief.
You need to provide proof that you really are suffering from whiplash in order to make a claim. As mentioned earlier simply testifying that you have whiplash won’t be enough to secure compensation, you will need the official assessment of a doctor as evidence in order to receive compensation. Furthermore being examined and diagnosed by a doctor will better identify the treatment and recovery time you will require. Obviously this will help you recover faster, but it will also allow you and your solicitor to put a more definite figure on the amount of compensation you will claim by helping you to calculate how much your medical fees will amount to and how much your lost earnings from time taken off work will amount to.
Be sure to keep hold of any receipts and paper work you receive for your medication and any treatment you receive, as well as receipts for the cost of transport to receive treatment. You will need them as proof of your expenses when making a compensation claim.
However proving that you have whiplash is only part of the proof you will need. You will also need to be able to prove how the accident happened and who was responsible. In the event that your whiplash was caused by a road traffic accident, make sure that you report the incident to the police as soon as possible. Take photos of the crash scene. Try to get the contact details or the license plate number of the person who crashed into you. Make sure that there are people who witnessed the accident who would be willing to provide testimony in your favour. If dashcam footage of the incident exists, try to get hold of it if you don’t have it already.
The same principle applies to any other manner in which you may have suffered whiplash. Take photos, report the incident to the relevant authorities, seek out people who will testify in your favour.
Different severities of whiplash injuries will entitle you to different amounts of compensation. In the table below you can see how whiplash and associated injuries are classified and how much each classification entitles you to.
|Severe neck Injury||Serious fractures and damage to soft tissues in the neck, resulting in permanent serious disabilities, which may include incomplete paraplegia.||£38,800-£139,210|
|Moderate Neck Injury||Serious fractures, dislocations and/or soft tissue injuries. May cause lasting chronic conditions including permanent loss of mobility. May exacerbate pre-existing conditions and/or leave victim vulnerable to further trauma.||£11,730-£36,120|
|Minor Neck Injury||Injuries which the victim recovers from within two years.||£2'090-£7,410|
|Severe Back Injury||Damage to spinal cord and vertebra resulting in incomplete paralysis and loss of bodily functions.||£33,080-£151,070|
|Moderate Back Injury||Injuries resulting in permanent pain and loss of mobility, may also include exacerbation or acceleration or pre-existing conditions.||£10,670-£36,390|
|Minor Back Injury||Injuries which the victim recovers from within five years.||£2,090-11,730|
|Severe Shoulder Injuries||Shoulder injuries involving damage to the neck and brachial plexus, resulting in significant disability.||£16,380-£45,070|
|Serious Shoulder Injuries||Dislocation in the shoulder and damage to lower part of brachial plexus resulting in permanent pain and symptoms.||£10,890-£18,020|
|Moderate Shoulder Injuries||Discomfort and limitation of movement lasting up to and above two years.||£6,730-£11,980|
|Minor Shoulder Injuries||Injuries from which the victim makes a full recovery within two years.||£2,090-£7,410|
In order to make a compensation claim you and your solicitor will need to work out how much compensation you will be asking for. There are two factors that go into calculating the amount that you will be asking for in compensation. General damages and special damages. General damages are for the physical damage caused by the injury itself. General damages can compensate you for:
- Disabilities you are left with as a result of the injury.
- Physical pain and suffering you go through as a result of the injury and treatment.
- The length and difficulty of the time it takes to recover.
- Lasting psychological and emotional harm caused by the accident, the injury and your recovery.
Special damages are for the non-physical and financial harm that you suffer as a result of your injury.
- The costs of having someone care for you or perform tasks for you that you would normally perform yourself, such as shopping. (Note that this does not include family members who would be expected to care for you.)
- The cost of hiring people to perform jobs you would normally do yourself such as gardening.
- Medical expenses, for example the costs of purchasing painkillers or therapy sessions.
- Travel expenses. Travel costs incurred by your injury, such as travelling to get to your medical appointments.
- Loss of earnings. Income you lose as a result of having to take time off work, and money that you would have earned that you now stand to lose out on as a result of being unable to work. For example if your neck is permanently impaired which prevents you from working in a trade which requires you to be fully able bodied, or if your injury causes you to miss the opportunity for a promotion.
All of our solicitor’s clients can make their claim on a no win no fee basis. That is a type of claim which allows you to avoid severe legal costs of making a claim. To do this you will sign a contract with your solicitor in which they will agree not to pursue legal fees from you if your case is unsuccessful. In order for you to pay your legal fees if the case is successful the contract will also stipulate that a portion of the compensation awarded to you will go to the solicitor. How much of the compensation this will be can vary from case to case, but it will likely be in the region of 25% which is the maximum legal amount a solicitor can receive from your case.
There are a lot of other solicitors firms which you could choose from to make your claim with. However you really should consider the fact that all of our solicitors offer no win no fee claims which can allow you to make a claim without running the risk of being left with a hefty legal bill without having received compensation. You should also be aware that our solicitors have over thirty years of legal experience in dealing with cases like yours.
We urge you to make use of our solicitors if you decide that you wish to make a no win personal injury claim. If you want to talk about starting a claim, you can reach us by calling 0800 073 8801, by filling in this contact form or by sending an e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Jack