Whiplash is a common injury after a road traffic accident with injuries ranging in severity. No matter how long the symptoms remain, suffering from whiplash can affect your ability to move, drive, and get back to work after an accident.
We aim to make claiming compensation for whiplash as straightforward as possible, but how long the claim takes will depend on your circumstances.
What Affects How Long A Whiplash Claim Takes?
Every compensation claim is different, so it's not possible to say exactly how long a claim will take before you begin.
The length of the claims process mostly depends on two things:
- The severity of your injuries
- Whether or not your opponent admits blame
If you have suffered a relatively minor whiplash injury and the other party admits responsibility for the accident early on, then your claim could be settled in just a few months. However, if your injuries are more serious, the process will take longer regardless of whether the other party admitted fault, as more medical evidence will be needed (to ensure your compensation reflects your longer term needs).
It's also important to wait until the full impact of your injuries can be understood before completing a claim. You could receive more compensation if your recovery process has taken a year or more, compared to if your injuries had healed in just one or two months, for example.
In the event that your opponent refuses to accept responsibility for your injuries, the investigation into your accident will take longer, as we will have to prove that they were responsible, and the claim may have to go to court. It’s rare that whiplash cases go to court however, but if your claim does we’ll be here to support you throughout the process.
If a criminal offence was committed in the course of the accident, police charges could be brought against the person responsible. This may not necessarily extend the length of a claim, but, in cases where the charge is disputed, you may have to wait for the criminal case to be settled before your compensation claim is resolved. Find out more about car accidents involving a criminal offence.
The length of a claim could also be affected if you were involved in a hit and run accident, and the police or insurance companies were unable to locate the driver. Learn more about hit and run claims.
How Long Do I Have To Claim?
You usually have three years from the date of a road traffic accident to make a compensation claim for your injuries. If you were under 18 at the time of the accident, you have until the date of your 21st birthday.
We would advise contacting a lawyer as soon as you can after an accident, to make sure all the evidence needed for your claim can be gathered, and witnesses can be interviewed while events are still fresh in their minds.
If the accident happened while you were abroad, the time limit could be shorter. It's essential to contact a solicitor as soon as possible in these cases, to make sure you don't miss your opportunity to claim compensation.
Whiplash - Frequently Asked Questions
How much compensation can I claim for whiplash?
The amount of compensation you can claim for whiplash depends on:
- The severity of your injury and how long it takes you to recover.
- Your injury’s impact on your work (loss of earnings) and day to day life.
- Any medical treatment and support you require.
As so many factors are involved, compensation amounts vary from case to case.
Find out more about how much compensation you could claim for whiplash.
What's the whiplash claims process?
A typical whiplash claim goes through the following four stages:
- Investigation. We’ll investigate every aspect of your accident to establish who was responsible for your injuries.
Medical examination and rehabilitation. We'll arrange for you to be medically examined and the expert will prepare a medical report and consider any rehabilitation support you'll need, and we can help you access it.
Compensation. After assessing your injuries as well as any financial losses you've incurred, we'll then present the claim to those responsible, and negotiate with them to get you the best possible award.
Conclusion. Your claim is resolved, and you receive compensation. The claim may need to be settled in court, but this is very rare, with most settling before a case reaches this stage.
Find out more about the whiplash claims process.
Do I need a medical examination as part of my claim?
An examination by a medical expert will support your claim, as they provide a report that outlines:
- The injuries you’ve suffered
- Your future medical and care needs
- What further medical evidence needs to be obtained
- Recommendations for treatment, such as physiotherapy
- How the injury has affected your day to day life, your ability to work, or how it has interrupted your domestic, leisure and sporting activities
As the amount of compensation you receive is largely determined by these factors, the medical report is essential for presenting your case to your opponent's insurers.
If you have any further questions about making a compensation claim for a whiplash injury, you can contact us by email, or by phone on 0800 056 4110 for a free consultation.
The above information relates to the law in England and Wales.
*To make a No Win No Fee claim, you need to enter into an agreement that's linked to a suitable insurance policy. We'll explain this in more detail before we start your claim.
All Scottish cases will be handled by the Scottish law firm with which we’re associated, Irwin Mitchell Scotland LLP. The law relating to funding is different in Scotland and you’ll receive separate advice about what that means as well as a separate funding agreement.