What Are The Symptoms Of A Whiplash Injury? – Online Guide To Whiplash Symptoms

Symptoms of a whiplash injury

Symptoms of whiplash injury

By Joanne Jeffries. Last Updated 17th August 2021. Welcome to our guide on the symptoms of a whiplash injury. Road traffic accidents commonly cause whiplash, and if you have been involved in an accident of this nature, it can have a lasting impact on your health and well being. You may be wondering “how long do whiplash injuries last?” and “what are the symptoms of whiplash injury?”. If that is the case, then this guide could help.

Are you unsure whether you have whiplash, or are you aware that you suffered a whiplash injury or another injury to the cervical spine and wonder how long symptoms of a whiplash injury should last? Are you considering making a personal injury claim for the whiplash symptoms you suffered as a result of an incident such as a road traffic accident with a motor vehicle that was caused by someone else?

This guide provides advice and information on whiplash symptoms, what does whiplash feel like and how to make a personal injury claim for compensation. We also cover the level of compensation you could be awarded, and seeking legal representation from a No Win No Fee solicitor at Accident Claims UK.

If you have any questions, we’d be glad to answer them if you’d like to call us on 0800 073 8801.

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A Guide To Claims When You Have The Symptoms Of Whiplash

Whiplash can be a frustrating and painful injury, particularly if the symptoms last a long time. If your whiplash was caused by someone else, you might be wondering if there’s anything you could do to redress the balance, especially if you have been left out of pocket from taking time off work because of your injury.

Have you been in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you’re looking to see if your whiplash symptoms could be compensated? Or, are you unsure as to whether the whiplash symptoms in your neck are significant enough to lead to a compensation settlement? Perhaps you’re looking into whether your symptoms are typical for whiplash injuries, or you want to know how to make a whiplash claim for symptoms you’ve experienced?

This guide provides information on whiplash symptoms, the physical therapy and physical exam that may be needed when suffering with such an injury and provides advice on making personal injury claims for whiplash with the help of a personal injury solicitor from our panel.

What Is A Whiplash Injury To The Neck?

Whiplash injuries can be caused by what is known as acceleration/deceleration events, where a head jerks violently sideways, or back and forth. This jerking movement can put tremendous strain on your neck, and lead to soft tissue damage to tendons and ligaments in the surrounding area. Some whiplash claimants feel whiplash symptoms immediately, while in others symptoms of a whiplash injury develop over time; there’s no one answer to the question “how long do whiplash injuries last?”.

In short, no two cases are the same and as such anyone who suffers an injury to the neck should seek medical attention immediately so a doctor can determine the extent of the injury and establish treatment options.

A whiplash injury is usually self-limiting and often resolves without any invasive treatment. However, symptoms associated with this type of injury can develop over time,  and could include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Tenderness in the neck

No matter how severe your symptoms are, or how long you have suffered, if someone caused the accident, you could be entitled to seek compensation from the negligent third party.

If you’d like to know more about what kinds of accident could cause the symptoms of whiplash injury to arise, then read on to find out more.

What Could Cause The  Symptoms Of A Whiplash Injury?

As mentioned previously, a sudden movement of the head can result in whiplash. It may happen in one of many different ways, with one of the most common considered to be in a road traffic accident. Whiplash could occur to both drivers and passengers of vehicles travelling at speed and have to stop abruptly or suddenly.

You could suffer whiplash as a result of any of the following:

  • A sports injury– in any contact sport that includes boxing, karate, football to name but three, could potentially be a potential for whiplash.
  • Theme park accidents – the speed and nature of a ride could put stress on the neck area if a ride stops suddenly or makes a jerking movement.
  • Physical abuse – if you are struck with something heavy when assaulted, this could cause a whiplash injury.
  • Falls – if you fall, and your head makes the type of head movement mentioned above, you could obtain a whiplash injury.

Whiplash Statistics

As we previously mentioned, one of the most common causes of whiplash is road traffic accidents. For that reason, we have taken the time to include such crucial statistics that outline the number of road traffic accidents between 2019/20.

Within the Reported road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2019 created by the Department for Transport, it states that there were:

  • 25,945 serious injuries caused by road traffic accidents reported to the police.
  • In total, there were was a total of 153,158 casualties of all severities.
  • There were 1,752 reported road deaths.

As the graph below shows, the number of fatalities on the road is at the lowest level seen since 1979, and has decreased by 21% since 2009.

how long do whiplash injuries last statistics graph

The report delves further into the statistics and outlines the fatalities by road user type:

  • 736 fatalities in 2019 were in connection to car occupants.
  • 470 fatalities in 2019 were in connection to pedestrians.
  • 336 fatalities in 2019 were in connection to motorcyclists.
  • 100 fatalities in 2019 were in connection to cyclists.
  • 110 fatalities in 2019 were in connection to other factors.

Read on to the next section of our guide for a look at some common symptoms of whiplash injury.

Common Symptoms Of A Whiplash Injury

The more common symptoms of a whiplash injury could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Headaches
  • A stiff neck
  • Neck pain
  • Spasm in the shoulders and arms
  • Pain in the shoulders and arms

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms detailed above and are wondering “how long do whiplash injuries last?”, you should seek medical advice. Not only will this make sure you get the medical attention that you need, for example a CT scan, anti inflammatory tablets or other treatments, but it will also ensure that there’s a record of your injuries to strengthen your claim in the future.

Slightly less common symptoms of whiplash could include tiredness and dizziness and sickness, which could occur.

Uncommon Symptoms Of A Whiplash Injury

If you suffered whiplash in an accident, there are some symptoms and side effects that are less common, and this includes the following:

  • Lower back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus
  • Depression bought on by ongoing, chronic pain and discomfort.

If you suffer any of these severe symptoms of whiplash injury, you must seek medical attention as a matter of urgency to make a correct diagnosis followed by effective treatment.

Diagnosis And Treatment Guidelines For Whiplash

Getting medical attention for your whiplash symptoms, and treatment options are essential because not only could it ease the pain and discomfort you are experiencing but a doctor would ensure that you are aware of what you can do and what you should not do if you suffered whiplash.

A doctor would also assess your injury and its severity. Once this has been established, you would be advised on how long it may take you to recover. So if you’re asking yourself the question “how long do whiplash injuries last?”, you should seek medical attention for the answer.

Whiplash would not require an X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan for a diagnosis to be made. The doctor would typically ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing and how you were injured, whether in a car accident or other incidents. A doctor may also examine your neck to establish if there is any swelling or tenderness. If your doctor thinks that your whiplash symptoms could be hiding another injury, for example, any damage to discs, they may send you for further tests.

Treatment advice used to be to immobilise the neck, but now, according to NICE guidelines, this is not recommended. Instead, guidance involves self-care, such as refraining from contact sports and anything that could worsen the injury. Pain relief could include taking analgesics such as ibuprofen and paracetamol and resume normal activities as soon as you can under a doctor’s recommendations. In some cases, symptoms of a whiplash injury could last for a period of time, and physiotherapy or osteopathy may be advised.

It is worth noting that certain treatments for whiplash should be avoided which includes the following:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants

Our next section will look at how to prevent symptoms of whiplash injury from occurring in the first place. Read on for more information.

Preventing Whiplash Injuries

You may be wondering if there are any ways to avoid a whiplash injury if someone else crashes into you. While you cannot prevent yourself from being involved in an accident that you did not cause, you could reduce the chance of you obtaining a whiplash injury. Research from the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that head restraints, when positioned correctly, could be beneficial in reducing the chance of a person suffering a neck injury in a crash. Your head restraint should be positioned as follows for the prevention of injury:

  • The top of the restraint should reach the same level as the top of your head.
  • It should not be over 4 inches away from the back of your head.

Other ways in which you could try to prevent whiplash could include:

  • Ensuring the car, you choose to drive has a good crash rating.
  • Ensuring you wear your seat belt
  • Ensuring you sit upright when driving
  • Ensuring you do not drive too close to the car in front
  • Ensuring, where possible that you lean back if you anticipate a crash is about to take place

Possible Complications From Whiplash Injuries

Many people may recover completely from whiplash within the space of a few months. Unfortunately, however, some symptoms of a whiplash injury could cause complications, which makes the question “how long do whiplash injuries last?” difficult one to answer.

If you experience chronic pain or headaches that last for years following the initial accident, it may cause problems that include depression or anxiety. On top of this, complications may be related to damage caused to the neck joint itself, or the discs and ligaments in the neck. However, chronic pain that you may experience if you suffered whiplash may not have a medical explanation.

To find out how much compensation you could be owed for symptoms of whiplash injury, please read on. 

Whiplash Settlement Calculator – Updated August 2021

The table below contains guideline amounts for personal injuries compensation awarded for whiplash. The amounts are provided as a guide only, as no two cases of whiplash are identical. As part of your claim for whiplash compensation, you would be expected to undergo an examination by an independent medical professional. The medical report would be used to determine the level of compensation you may be awarded.

Injury Bracket Notes
Injuries to the neck – Moderate £23,460 to £36,120 Severe symptoms that occur immediately, which could include dislocations and/or fractures. Chronic conditions may fit into this bracket too. These may include referred symptoms in other parts of the body. Injuries here could impair usual activities to some extent and may cause you to be more vulnerable to trauma in the future.
Injuries to the neck – Moderate £12,900 to £23,460 soft tissue or wrenching-type injury and disc lesion of the more severe type resulting in cervical spondylosis, serious limitation of movement, permanent or recurring pain, stiffness or discomfort, and the possible need for further surgery or increased vulnerability to further trauma.
Injuries to the neck – Moderate £7,410 to £12,900 Injuries in this bracket will include moderate soft tissue injuries where the period of recovery has been fairly protracted and where there remains an increased vulnerability to further trauma
Injuries to the neck- minor £4,080 to £7,410 Soft tissue injuries where a full recovery takes place within a period of about one to two years.
Injuries to the neck- minor £2,300 to £4,080 Soft tissue injuries where a full recovery takes place within a period of less than a year.
Injuries to the neck- minor Up to £2,300 Soft tissue injuries where a full recovery is made within three months.
Psychiatric Damage Generally- Moderately severe £17,900 to £51,460 In these cases the injured person will have significant problems associated with life, work, education and relationships but the prognosis will be more optimistic than above.
Psychiatric Damage Generally- Moderate £5,500 to £17,900 In these cases the injured person will have had the sort of problems associated with life, work, education and relationships but the prognosis will be good and there will have been marked improvement.
Psychiatric Damage Generally- Less severe £1,440 to £5,500 The level of the award will take into consideration the length of the period of disability and the extent to which daily activities and sleep were affected.

It is important to note there could be instances where your compensation payout may not be 100% of its full value. If you were in any part to blame for the accident that caused your whiplash injury, you could still claim, but your compensation may well be reduced to reflect your level of liability. Claims such as these could include split liability, 50:50 liability and knock for knock claims.

Knock For Knock Claims

In this type of case, each party’s insurers would payout for their policyholder’s loss, without determining who was at fault. Cases, where there were no witnesses and no agreement as to who could be to blame, could be handled as a knock for knock claims if the insurers agree that this could be beneficial to them as it may save them on costs.

50:50 Liability Claims

If no witnesses are available and no party admits liability, or both parties admit 50% liability each, the injured party would receive a payout that would be half of what a claim would be worth if the injured party were not to blame. The defendant’s insurer would pay the claimant, but at a reduced rate.

Split Liability Claims

If someone claiming for a whiplash injury believes a third party is completely to blame. Yet, the defending party claims that the injured party contributed to their own injuries somehow, a split liability claim could be made. For example, if the injured party agrees to take 25% responsibility for their injuries, the defendant’s insurer could payout 75% of the claim’s worth to reflect the claimant’s involvement.

If you’d like to know what a whiplash claim could include aside from the payment for the pain and suffering of symptoms of whiplash injury, then please read on for more information. 

Whiplash Settlement Amounts

The table above’s settlement amounts are for the whiplash injury sustained and does not include any financial costs associated with an injury. The amount you are offered for the injury itself is referred to as ‘general damages’.

However, you could claim special damages for your out of pocket expenses, which cover expenses and other costs directly linked to the whiplash injury you sustained. Special damages could include the following:

  • Medical costs which include prescriptions, private physiotherapy and any other treatment and expenses which the NHS does not cover
  • Travel costs including hospital parking, train, bus or taxi fares
  • Loss of earnings if you have experienced them, or are expected to experience them in the future because of your injuries

If you aren’t sure whether a cost you have incurred could be included in a claim for a whiplash injury, please call the Accident Claims UK helpline and speak to one of our expert personal injury advisers. We’ll also be able to answer the question “how long do whiplash injuries last?” amongst others.

No Win No Fee Solicitors Handling Whiplash Claims

Getting help when making claims for a whiplash injury offers many benefits. A personal injury lawyer has the necessary legal expertise to ensure the whole process goes smoothly by building a solid case that a defendant would find hard to deny.

A solicitor would liaise with the relevant parties, advise you on what could be included in your claim, and whether any offer you receive from the insurer for symptoms of whiplash injury could be considered fair or whether you could ask for more.

A No Win No Fee solicitor would commence work on your whiplash claim without asking for an upfront fee and would request you sign a Conditional Fee Agreement which sets out the amount you would only have to pay for their services when you win your whiplash claim. The amount is deducted from the compensation you receive. This is known as a ‘success fee’.

If your claim fails, you would not have to pay the ‘success fee’ because you entered into a No Win No Fee agreement with the personal injury solicitor who acted on your behalf.

Talk To Accident Claims UK

Whatever symptoms of a whiplash injury you’ve experienced, if it was caused by someone else, you could make a personal injury claim with the help of a solicitor working on a No Win No Fee basis. Whether you have questions about going ahead with a whiplash claim, or you’re not sure how much of the accident may have been your fault, we’re here to help. We have years of experience in handling claims pertaining to whiplash injuries, and we have a wealth of advice and information to offer.

When you call us, we will go through all of the relevant details of your claim. We may ask a number of questions to ascertain some details in order for us to assess your case accurately. If we think one of our solicitors could help you move forward with a claim for whiplash compensation.

If we do not feel that a case would result in compensation, we will not waste your time, as we offer honest advice and guidance to claimants, and there is no obligation to use our services even if we think that you could have a valid claim.

You can contact us via phone, on 0800 073 8801, via our quick live chat feature, or by emailing office@accidentclaims.co.uk. You are sure to find us knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. We have helped many claimants with whiplash injuries, and we would be happy to offer assistance in filing a whiplash compensation claim.

Essential Links

Whiplash In An Ambulance? -Our guide on emergency services vehicle accidents could be useful here.

Did You Fall In A Public Place?– If a slip or fall caused you to suffer whiplash, and it happened in a public place, this guide could help.

Were Your Whiplash Symptoms Misdiagnosed? – If so, and this caused you harm, you could consider claiming negligence.

Uninsured Driver Claims – Was the driver that caused your whiplash uninsured. The MIB could payout on claims like this.

Whiplash Reforms– Government information on reforms to whiplash claims can be found here.

Whiplash NHS advice – Useful guidance on this type of injury from the NHS.

Pedestrian accident claims – take a look at our guide on pedestrian compensation claims.

Cycling accident claim – if you or a loved one has been involved in a cyclist-related accident, then why not take a look at our guide to learn more.

Bus accident compensation claims – why not take a look at our guide for bus accident claims to learn more.

Whiplash Injury Claim FAQ

How do you know you have whiplash?

If you have been involved in an accident, naturally, you may question whether or not you have experienced whiplash. The signs and symptoms of whiplash injury often develop within several days of the accident, and you could experience the following:

  • Headaches.
  • A loss of range of motion in the neck.
  • Heads, most commonly starting at the base of the skull.
  • Pain and tenderness in the arms, upper back and shoulders.

At what speed does whiplash occur?

Many people could be of the assumption that you must be driving at a notable speed to endure whiplash, but that isn’t the case. If you are involved in a car accident at any speed, it can cause a whiplash injury.

How long does whiplash take to heal?

“How long do whiplash injuries last?” is a common question we hear. The recovery time for a whiplash injury can often vary. Some whiplash associated disorders can result in chronic whiplash, which affects the injured person in the long term.

How much could I receive in a whiplash claim?

This varies on a number of factors. The value of the general damages head of your claim will take into consideration how severe your injuries are and how they’ve impacted on your quality of life.

What will my whiplash claim cover?

As well as general damages, your claim will also include special damages, which will compensate you for any financial losses you’ve incurred. This might include loss of earnings, travel expenses and the cost of medications and prescriptions.

Can I make a claim for a whiplash injury at work?

Yes. If you’ve suffered an injury while at work that wasn’t your fault, whether it was an accident on the road or a slip trip or fall that resulted in whiplash injuries, then you may be able to make a claim for your injuries.

Should you take time off work to whiplash?

Some people might still be able to work while suffering from a whiplash injury. But if you feel like you’re not able to work because of your injuries, or if your doctor advises that you should take some time off work, then you should follow their advice.

What happens if you leave whiplash untreated?

Untreated whiplash can result in ongoing symptoms such as stiffness, loss of motion and ongoing pain in the neck.

What are the whiplash claim reforms?

In May 2021, the Whiplash Claims Reform Programme came into force. This was based on the results of a consultation that the government entered into. It was aimed at reducing the number of false claims as well as streamlining the claims process for low value soft tissue injuries obtained in road traffic accidents. As part of the reforms, claimants with a ‘low value’ injury, up to £5,000, would be required to claim via a portal created by the government. There is now also a ban on settling these low value soft tissue injury claims without proof of injuries. In addition to this, there is also no way for legal costs to be covered by the defendant in such cases. The government has put in place a tariff for these claims, which is based on how long you’ve suffered with your injury.

Would you be able to help me with a low value whiplash claim?

Are you unsure as to whether your claim would need to be dealt with under the above reform programme? Would you like legal assistance with making your claim through the portal? Either way, we’re here to answer your questions and help you with your claim. Sometimes, claimants may assume their injury is only a low value one, only to discover that the impact is more serious than they initially thought. Whether your claim would need to be made through the portal or directly against the insurer of the liable party in such cases, we could help you.

Once again, thank you for reading our guide on whiplash claims. We hope to have answered any questions you had regarding symptoms of a whiplash injury, as well as “how long do whiplash injuries last?”.