What is whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissue, normally around the neck, shoulders and upper back. It is caused by the sudden movement of the head moving forwards, backwards or sideways and is a very common injury suffered in a road traffic accident. Common symptoms from a whiplash injury include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, shoulder pain, dizziness and fatigue and sometimes people will suffer jaw pain, arm weakness, back pain and ringing in the ears.
How long does whiplash last?
As a specialist in road traffic accident claims I am often asked about whiplash, most of my clients want to know how long can whiplash last and how much they are likely to receive for a whiplash claim. Most people recover fully and relatively quickly. The majority of people suffering with whiplash injuries recover within two years of the accident and studies show that only around 18% of patients continue to have symptoms beyond that two-year period.
Certain individuals are more prone to suffering with longer and more severe whiplash injuries. Young, relatively fit people with no pre-existing problems will tend to recover more quickly. People who are older, who have perhaps had problems in their neck or back previously and/or who had their head rotated at the time of the accident tend to suffer for longer.
The value of a whiplash claim can vary quite dramatically. The amount an injured person will be awarded is linked to the severity of the original injury, the recovery period and the severity of any ongoing residual symptoms. Other factors should also be considered such as whether the injured person sustained any other injuries, whether the injured person needed time off work, or whether any physiotherapy treatment was required.
As part of your claim you will be sent to see one, or potentially more, doctors who will examine you and prepare reports detailing the injuries that you have sustained, the severity of those injuries and how long the injuries are likely to take to recover. If you suffer relatively minor injuries you might see a GP, a broken bone would lead to an appointment with an orthopaedic expert and anxieties or post-traumatic stress disorder would lead us to instruct a psychologist or psychiatrist. You may suffer rarer or more complicated injuries and have to see different and more specialist doctors also.
The question is whiplash claim is therefore a difficult one to answer. A very minor whiplash injury recovering within, say four weeks, could be worth in the region of £1,000. If the injury were to last for around three months we would be hoping to recover compensation for you in the region of £2000. If somebody suffered a worse injury and required a course of treatment but still made a full recovery, say within a year of the accident, their injury might be worth up to £3,800.
Broadly, the longer the injury lasts and the more severe the symptoms are the higher the level of compensation the injured person would receive. An injured person who suffered a severe whiplash injury with a radiation of pain into their head and shoulders which impacted their ability to work and enjoy a normal life, required them to take regular medication and necessitated treatment and lasted for around two years could be worth up to around £7000. There are a number of factors that need to be taken into account and each case must be carefully considered on its own merits.