We may all of heard of the term ‘whiplash’, which over the years has been portrayed with some controversy as an easy way to make a claim some extra money, but ofcourse, to those who have been seriously affected, it's been a very painful healing process.
The reason for ‘whiplash’ being controversial and banded about as an easy way to claim cash, is that it’s not that easy to diagnose the specific problem due to it being classed as a ‘soft tissue injury’. It occurs when the soft tissue in the neck becomes stretched and damaged.
How is Whiplash caused?
Firstly, let's look at what the definition of whiplash together.
Whiplash Definition: A serious injury caused by a severe jerk, or jolt to the head and neck, usually from a car accident’.
An example of how whiplash occurs, is when a driver's vehicle is parked at a set of lights and is suddenly hit up the rear by the vehicle travelling behind. The driver travelling into the back of the vehicle in front could been easily distracted for that split moment and didn't see the upcoming stationery vehicle in front. This sudden impact jolts the vehicle in front forwards, meaning the stationery driver's head is jerked backwards damaging the tissue inside the neck - Ouch, pretty painful!, as I'm sure you'll agree.
Ok, so let's look at the kind of symptoms the driver in front would expect from such an unfortunate collision
- Neck pain and tenderness
- Stiff neck
- Difficulty moving head
- Muscle twinges and spasms
- Radiating pain to shoulders and arms
- So, the interesting questions remain for the insurance companies
- How do we know an individual truly has a bad case of whiplash?
- How much compensation should we pay out in the event of a claim?
The thing is having a broken arm, or a dislocated pelvis is pretty easy to identify with the claimant by proving the damage with hospital x-rays, however, whiplash cannot just be seen by a simple x-ray. This in turn leads to multiple claimants putting down 'whiplash' simply for financial gain. Of course, this then has a knock on effect for the claimants who have a sincere claim for an agonising whiplash injury, because of the corrupted claims of others.
Changes in the 2018 Law
In March 2018, new law was brought with the aim to clamp down on all false whiplash claims. The aim was to reduce the whiplash personal injury claims and in turn create an average of a £35 reduction cost to everyone's annual insurance cover. A fixed amount was also introduced to be paid out on a successful claim which saves on the mounting legal fees during the claim process. Medical proof is also now mandatory in the event of a claim.
Justice Secretary David Gauke comments:
“The number of whiplash claims has been far too high for too long, and is symptomatic of a wider compensation culture.
We are putting this right through this important legislation, ensuring whiplash claims are no longer an easy payday and that money can be put back in the pockets of millions of law-abiding motorists".
How does Whiplash compensation work?
Whiplash compensation is paid depending on how serious the injury is deemed to be and how long it lasts preventing the claimant to carry on with normal everyday routine.
It’s really important when making a claim, to provide as much evidence as you can such as accident details (photos, witness statements, police reports), hospital follow up (doctors notes), time off work etc. and any related financial loss that has occurred due to the suffering of the injury.
It’s quite common for the insurance company representing the person at fault to offer an outer court settlement. The option is then either take it, or risk fighting on all the way to court.
You could take your claim to a legal specialist who specializes in ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’ commonly known as Personal Injury Lawyers. They will evaluate your case and may work on a no-win, no-fee basis. However, check to see you're happy with how much you pay them if you win, as these can be up to 30% of the claim paid out.
Some law firms even offer a ‘whiplash calculator'.
How much could you get?
Whiplash claims are normally in the region of £1000 to £3000, but will mainly depend on the seriousness, longevity of the injury and the financial loss accumulated.
We would love to hear your stories, or any views on whiplash claims? Please post your comments here…