Whiplash Claims – Everything You Need To Know

By Danielle Griffin. Last Updated 2nd August 2023Suffering a whiplash injury has the potential to cause significant disruption in a person’s life. Not only may they suffer injuries to their neck, shoulders or back, but they may be unable to work.

In this guide, we explore whiplash claims in detail. We examine the potential causes, discuss examples of how such an injury could be suffered, and consider your legal rights in relation to claiming compensation.

We also consider compensation payouts for whiplash and discuss No Win No Fee agreements, which may enable you to make a claim today.

Speaking of which, if you wish to take legal action and want expert help and support, get in touch.

Our specialist personal injury solicitors have handled thousands of whiplash claims over the years. They can offer you a free case check to see if you can claim, and can advise you as to what you could recover in compensation.

To speak with us you can:

  • Call on 0800 073 8801
  • Or speak with us now via our live chat service

Browse Our Guide

  1. What Is Whiplash?
  2. What to Do If You Are Involved In An Accident That Causes Whiplash
  3. The Criteria To Claim For Whiplash
  4. Circumstances When Could You Make A Whiplash Claim
  5. Examples Of Compensation Payouts For Whiplash Claims
  6. Make A Car Accident Claim No Win No Fee Basis Today
  7. Learn More About Whiplash Claims

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash refers to a strain or sprain that causes pain and suffering. In both cases, the level of pain will be determined by the injury severity.

There is a subtle difference between a strain and a sprain, and worth looking at in more detail:

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How to make a whiplash claim

  • A neck strain is where there has been damage caused to the muscles or tendons in the neck. Tendons are bands of tissue that connect the muscles to the bones.
  • A neck sprain is a torn ligament. A ligament is a tissue that connects the bones.

Both injury types can be painful, and the treatment share similarities. Regardless of which injury type you’ve endured, if a negligent third party is at fault, then you could have grounds to make a compensation claim.

When do whiplash symptoms start?

Some people endure whiplash symptoms immediately after the accident, but there are cases where symptoms take several hours or even days to develop. Whiplash can be the sole injury resulting from an impact on the head and neck, but it can also be one of many.

Car accident victims can also suffer a concussion, which should always be taken seriously. Diagnosing whiplash, its severity and its impact on the victim are done through with a thorough medical examination. Your doctor may also refer you for an x-ray and/or CT scan to check for injury in the head, neck and shoulders. All of these situations could result in whiplash claims.

What To Do If You Are Involved In An Accident That Causes Whiplash

Don’t forget, road traffic collisions do not just cause whiplash, as various injuries could be inflicted. However, if you are involved in an accident and are hurt, collecting necessary information and evidence from the scene can help you decide to go ahead with a personal injury compensation claim.

  • Take photos – if you can, take pictures of the scene as they may prove useful later.
  • Write down what happened – we think that we will remember everything about what happened and yet when we are asked about a particular detail, we find that we cannot accurately recall the answer. As soon as you can, after the accident, write down what happened. Drawing a ‘map’ of what happened can help too. This is important for all accidents and incidents.
  • Collect witness contact details – if people witnessed your accident, ask them for their contact details. It is also worth noting that it is essential to inform the police of the incident in the event of a road traffic collision.

The Criteria To Claim For Whiplash

Not everyone who suffers whiplash from a car accident would meet the eligibility criteria for claiming. In all car accident claims, you must be able to prove that someone else was at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. This is the case whether you’re claiming for multiple serious injuries or you’re making a claim for whiplash alone. 

To have the best chance of meeting the eligibility criteria for making a whiplash claim, you’d need medical evidence to prove your injuries, as well as evidence that the accident occurred and was caused by someone else’s negligence. Road users have a duty of care towards each other, which you can learn more about in the Highway Code. Should someone drive carelessly or dangerously, for example, ignoring the rules of the road and causing an accident, you could be eligible to claim for injuries sustained as a result. 

As well as being able to prove your case, you would need to launch it within the relevant time limit. The limitation period for whiplash claims, like most personal injury claims, is usually three years from the accident date or date of knowledge. This is set out in the Limitation Act 1980. However, there are some exceptions to this, mainly pertaining to child whiplash injuries and claims for those who lack the mental capacity to claim for themselves.

We should also explain that the way in which some whiplash claims are handled has changed in recent years, however. Some claims would need to be made through an online portal, whereas other claims could be made in the traditional manner. We explain more about the new rules below.

Can You Claim Whiplash After 3 Years?

As stated above, there are some time limit exceptions when claiming for whiplash. These include:

  • Those who lack the mental capacity to make their own claim for whiplash. In these cases, the limitation period is suspended indefinitely. During this time, a court-appointed litigation friend can begin the claiming process on their behalf. However, if the injured party regains this mental capacity and a claim was not made for them, they will have three years from the date it was deemed they recovered this capacity to begin the process.
  • Those under the age of 18 are also unable to start their own claim. For these parties, the time limit is paused until they turn 18. Before this, a litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. However, if they turn 18 and a claim was not made for them, they will have three years from the date of their 18th birthday to start a claim.

Contact our advisors to discuss your question, ‘Can you claim for whiplash?’. They can check your claim and see if you are within the limitation period.

The Whiplash Reform Programme

The Whiplash Reform Programme has changed the way that certain low-value injury claims are made. It now means that any injury sustained by a driver or passenger over the age of 18 must be made through an online portal and the compensation amounts will be based on the tariff for the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. There might be circumstances where these amounts are applied to claims that don’t need to be made through the portal. It is worth noting, though, that the scheme only covers those within a vehicle. It does not cover pedestrians, cyclists or other road users.

The big question, of course, is how do you know if your injuries are worth £5,000 or less? The answer is – you don’t, and therein lies a problem with the new scheme. Although the reform programme promises to guide claimants in what their claim might be worth, it might not be an accurate process for untrained individuals to follow.

Call our advisors for free advice about the best way for you to make a whiplash claim.

Circumstances When Could You Claim For Whiplash

In this section, we’ll explore some different circumstances in which you could make a whiplash compensation claim. Let’s start with bus accidents.

Whiplash And Bus Accidents

Should you suffer whiplash in a bus accident, you could be eligible for compensation. As part of the claiming process, you will need to prove that a breach in the duty of care owed to you caused your whiplash. We previously stated what evidence could be used to support whiplash claims.

When claiming for whiplash suffered in a bus accident, your claim could be made against the bus company or another road user. It could also potentially be made against the local council. For example, if it was deemed that a pothole caused the bus accident.

Our advisors can advise you on how to claim for whiplash if you get in touch today.

Whiplash Claims Involving Passenger Accidents

Those claiming for whiplash in the UK aren’t always motorists. In some cases, a passenger could claim for whiplash from a car accident in which their driver or another motorist was at fault. There are several types of passengers that could make such claims. For example, people could suffer a whiplash injury as a bus occupant or taxi occupant. They could even claim if they suffered an injury when being driven by a friend or colleague. In order to make a claim, they would have to evidence that a road user breached their duty of care towards them, and that they were injured because of this breach.

Claims could be made against liable bus companies, taxi companies, private hire drivers, or even a friend or family member. 

However, these are not the only potential liable parties that could have whiplash claims made against them. If someone suffers whiplash from a car accident caused by a lorry driver, or another motorist, this could lead to a claim if negligence can be proven. 

Examples Of Payouts In Whiplash Claims

We can offer some guidance on how much compensation could be awarded for whiplash claims. However, each case is unique, and settlements for whiplash claims in the UK could vary. 

Firstly, we should mention that if your injury is calculated to be worth £5,000 or less, you’d need to claim via the government’s portal. Whiplash claims made this way are compensated for in accordance with the tariff in the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. 

However, not all whiplash claims come in under this value. There are a range of neck injuries you could suffer in a road traffic accident. Therefore, how much you can get for whiplash depends on the severity of the injury, and its impact on your life if it values at more than £5,000. In such cases, solicitors could argue for settlements not only for pain and suffering. They could also help you claim for costs and losses sustained due to a whiplash injury. 

Below, we have provided a table with guideline payout amounts for whiplash claims made the traditional way. The figures are taken from a document called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is used to help value claims made in England and Wales.

Please remember, however that this is purely guidance. If you call our team, we could provide case-specific advice and support. 

Compensation Table

SeverityPayment LevelNotes
Back injuries - Severe (i) £91,090 to £160,980The most severe injuries resulting in damage to nerves and the cord of the spine.
Back injuries - Severe (ii) £74,160 to £88,430Injuries that carry special features that take them out of lower brackets. For example, an injury that impedes sexual function or results in loss of sensation.
Back injuries -Moderate (ii) £12,510 to £27,760More common injuries like muscle or ligament damage causing back pain
Neck Injuries- Severe (i) In the region of £148,330
The upper end of the scale will mean that the neck injury also affects the upper spine, resulting in paralysis for the higher payment. Severe neck injury may also mean headaches, severe soft tissue damage leading to a chronic, long-term condition.
Neck Injuries- Severe (ii) £65,740 to £130,930Serious disc fractures or damage to cervical spine discs that results in considerably severe disability.
Neck Injuries- Severe (iii) £45,470 to £55,990Fractures, dislocations, serious damage to soft tissue.
Neck Injuries- Moderate (i) £24,990 to £38,490
Fractures, dislocations and the like that cause immediate symptoms that might mean a fusion of the spine is required.
Neck Injuries- Moderate (ii) £13,740 to
Soft tissue injuries or wrenching type injuries.
Whiplash Tariff£4,345This tariff is for claimants suffering from both the symptoms of whiplash and a minor psychological injury for 18-24 months.
Whiplash Tariff£4,215This tariff is for claimants suffering from the symptoms of whiplash for 18-24 months.

For information on whiplash claims in the UK, call our team.

What Else Can You Include In A Whiplash Payout?

Various factors will affect a compensation payout. This is why we cannot provide the average claim for whiplash in the UK.

Firstly, successful whiplash claims will include compensation for pain and suffering. This is known as general damages. This is discussed further in the next section.

Some whiplash claims may also include special damages. Special damages are paid to help recover any expenses caused due to having a whiplash injury. However, you must have evidence of your losses to include special damages as part of your whiplash claim. In car accident claims for whiplash, special damages proof could include your receipts, invoices, or payslips.

Examples of what you could claim for under special damages:

  • Loss of earnings.
  • Repairs and replacements of property that was damaged.
  • Medical expenses, including therapy, prescription costs or cosmetic surgery.
  • Carer costs.
  • Home and vehicle adaptions.
  • Travel expenses, such as taxis to medical appointments.

Call our advisors for free advice about what could be included in your claim for whiplash.

Make A Car Accident Claim No Win No Fee Basis Today

If you suffered whiplash in a car accident, you may be eligible to claim compensation for whiplash. You could do so with the support of a No Win No Fee solicitor who could offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

Should you hire a No Win No Fee solicitor for your whiplash from a car accident claim, you usually won’t be charged upfront for your solicitor’s services. If your claim is successful, a success fee will be taken from your whiplash payout. Should your whiplash claim be unsuccessful, you typically won’t be expected to pay for your solicitor’s services.

Free legal advice about claiming for whiplash in the UK is available from our advisors. They can also assess the validity of your whiplash from a car accident claim. If it seems like your claim is eligible, you could be passed on to our solicitors.

To get in touch:

Learn More About Whiplash Claims 

Further reading:

If you have further questions about a whiplash claim please get in touch.