Whiplash, or hyperextension of the neck, is one of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents. It’s usually due to being driven into from behind.
You can claim compensation if you are in an accident that causes whiplash – as long as you can provide evidence of your injuries, and the cause of the crash.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury that involves the muscles in the neck becoming overextended. It’s usually caused by a sudden impact, such as someone driving into the back of your car. The effects of whiplash include neck pain, headaches, and dizziness and can take up to 12 hours to come on.
Many people only suffer with whiplash for a few days, while 90% recover fully within three months. However, some people suffer from pain and related problems for years afterwards.
Can I claim compensation for whiplash injuries?
Yes, if you get whiplash after being in an accident that wasn’t your fault – either as a driver or a passenger – you can make a whiplash claim on the at-fault driver’s insurance. You can do this directly, or via a ‘no win, no fee’ legal firm that takes a cut of the money if you’re successful.
Either way, you’ll need to prove the accident wasn’t your fault, and provide a medical report showing the extent of your injuries.
What are the rules on whiplash claims?
Due to the nature of the injuries, whiplash claims are one of the easiest types of claim to fake. That’s bad news for all drivers, as it pushes the cost of car insurance up for everyone. The government is therefore introducing new rules designed to prevent fraudulent whiplash claims.
These include setting a fixed level of compensation for minor whiplash claims, and prohibiting insurers from paying out unless claims are supported by medical proof. There is also a proposal to increase the small claims limit for road accidents from £1,000 to £5,000 – which would mean you can only get ‘no win, no fee’ legal counsel for claims worth at least £5,000.
How should I claim for whiplash on my insurance?
To make a whiplash claim, you’ll need to provide the insurance company with evidence of both the accident and the injuries you sustained. You can do this by:
- Exchanging insurance details with the other driver
- Taking photographs at the scene of the accident where possible
- Seeing a doctor who can examine you and write an injury report
How much can I claim for whiplash?
The amount you can claim in whiplash compensation depends on the extent of your injuries, and how they affect your way of life. Most claims are for between £1,500 and £3,000. But while pay-outs for minor symptoms rarely exceed a few thousand pounds, compensation for permanent damage can be up to £100,000.
How does a whiplash claim affect my car insurance premiums?
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), whiplash claims add an average of £90 to car insurance premiums.* Making a claim of any kind will often mean paying more for your car insurance in the future – even if it’s related to an accident that was not your fault, you are likely to see your premiums rise.
However, if your whiplash claim is recorded as a non-fault claim on your file, it should not affect your no-claims bonus.
*Data collected by the Association of British Insurers, accurate as of July 2020
Can a whiplash claim be refused?
Yes, a whiplash claim can be refused if you fail to provide sufficient proof of your injuries or that the accident was not your fault. Your claim may also be refused if the insurer believes the accident was staged or you’ve exaggerated how badly you were hurt.
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