Whiplash Injury Claims

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How Much Compensation For My
Whiplash Injury?

An article exploring how the amount of whiplash compensation awards are decided.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury following a car accident that was not your fault, how much compensation can you expect to receive? This article looks at the different elements of a claim for whiplash compensation so that you can assess whether to make a claim or not.

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Compensation for whiplash in the UK is supposed to do one thing and one thing only; that is to try and put you back to the position you were in before the accident. Now of course, when it comes to a physical injury, this may be impossible to do. Some whiplash injuries can cause permanent symptoms so any financial compensation will not seem adequate, but that is still the purpose of your whiplash compensation.

When you make a claim, it is split into two parts; correctly called General Damages and Special Damages. Damages is simply another word for compensation, and the General part relates to the compensation that is not easily priced or assessed; ie your physical injuries and the impact of those on your day to day life. Specials Damages relate to the items that you can attribute a specific cost or expense to, such as physiotherapy treatment. Let’s look at each one in turn.

General Damages

These are designed to compensate you for your pain and suffering. With a whiplash injury you can have a sore, stiff neck, limited range of movement, headaches, shoulder pain and giddiness. Whiplash pain can last for a few days, weeks, months or can even be permanent. Obviously the more severe your pain is and the longer it lasts means a larger amount of General Damages compensation.

Every case is assessed on the full details of the injury and the impact on your life. Your whiplash solicitor will obtain a full witness statement from you and any members of your family that have seen the impact of the injury on your day to day life.

He will also obtain a medical report from a General Practitioner or an Orthopaedic Surgeon who will examine your range of movement and make a note of any pain and restrictions of movement. He will suggest any treatment and provide you with a prognosis, an outline of how long your pain and suffering will last.

Once your solicitor has all of this information he will be able to assess the amount of your General Damages, usually giving you with a range in which he would expect you to recover compensation. He will use previously decided cases and the main tool which is a book called The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines For The Assessment of Damages.

They split the awards into categories depending on how long the pain and suffering lasted, and how severe it was. This is broken down as follows:

  • £750 to £2500 for a full recovery within 1 year
  • £2400 to £4250 if you make a full recovery withing 2 years
  • £4250 to £7750 for slow recovery of more than minor whiplash symptoms with pain for a number of years
  • £7750 to £13750 for permanent symptoms

Your award for your General Damages will be assessed using the above guide and your witness and medical evidence.

Special Damages

These are easier to assess because they will be based on real expenses incurred by you. Your whiplash solicitor will ask you to provide him with receipts, wage slips and any other documentation that you have that will prove your losses and expenses.

Your claim for Special Damages can include the following:

  • Lost Earnings. If you had time off work due to your whiplash injury you will be able to claim back your lost earnings. You will need your wage slips so that your solicitor can work out your losses.
  • Car Repairs. If your car was damaged in the accident you will be able to claim back the cost of any repairs and if the accident was not your fault your no claims bonus will not be harmed. Garage invoices will prove the cost of any repairs.
  • Car Storage. If your car was stored by the garage before the repairs took place (they may have been waiting approval to repair the car before they proceeded) then you can claim for these storage charges too.
  • Car Hire. If you needed to travel whilst your car was off the road you will be able to recover the cost of any car hire.
  • Treatment. You may have received physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment privately. If you did you can reclaim these costs as part of your whiplash compensation claim.
  • Travel expenses. This will be for additional travel expenses incurred as a result of the accident, such as travelling to treatment or for other appointments related to your claim for compensation.
  • Damaged Items. During the accident other items in your vehicle might have been damaged. This is most likely if you are a motorcyclist but in cars people often break sunglasses or other glasses during the collision.
  • Medication. If you needed to take medication as a result of the accident, you can recover the cost of this, along with any other medical items such as a neck brace.
  • Any other expenses. If you incurred any other expense at all as a result of the accident then you can recover the cost of this expense too.

Your claim for Special Damages is far easier to assess than the claim for General Damages because, as you can see, it relates to real incurred expenses.

Summary Of Your Compensation For Whiplash

A claim for compensation for whiplash can vary greatly from person to person based on the above factors. One person might suffer a severe whiplash injury with no or little additional expenses (Special Damages) whilst another with minor injuries might suffer large expenses for car hire and car repairs. Therefore, they might receive the same overall amount of compensation for two seemingly very different injuries. The difference is in the detail. At least now you will be able to work out why someone else might receive more whiplash compensation than you.

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