Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of a whiplash injury and it results in the sufferer experiencing limited or reduced movement in the neck or shoulder area. Where these injuries are sustained, the individual will have to wear a neck brace for a certain period of time until their injury has healed and in the most serious cases, they may have to attend physiotherapy.
Whiplash can result in a range of other issues including headaches, muscle pain and several other complications which could restrict general movement. Suffers of this type of injury can experience the effects for between three and six months but depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the injury the implications can be much longer.
Making a Whiplash Injury Claim
When it comes to making a claim, your physical health before the accident is a key factor when factoring in how successful your claim will be. Perhaps you had a previous injury of your shoulder or your neck and the accident has worsened your condition, this will be taken into consideration.
For some, day to day tasks could be restricted and simple tasks such as washing, cooking and even walking can prove problematic. Work can also suffer, particularly if you are in a demanding or physical job.
In recent years there has been extensive media coverage about fraudulent whiplash claims. As a result there has been a ban on damages for whiplash injuries that are classed as being minor.
Increasing the small claims limit has been proposed to deter unnecessary or fraudulent claims. These reforms will have an impact on many personal injury claims.
For a claimant who suffers from a minor whiplash injury after April 2017, they will no longer be entitled to receive general damages. These are a set of damages that aim to provide compensation for pain and suffering that you experienced as a direct result of the incident.
Claimants can still recover specific losses which relate to medical bills, damage to property or any loss of earnings as a result of the accident. The new regulations also state rules relating to whiplash injury claims made after April 2017 that is below £5,000.
If you instruct a solicitor you will no longer be able to recoup the solicitor’s fees from the insurer of the defendant.
Solicitors are therefore going to have to recoup their costs from your compensation which will significantly reduce the amount of money you will receive. It is therefore more likely that claimants will make a claim themselves using the normal small claims process.
One of the major problems with this is that the average person does not have any experience in making a personal injury claim. As a result they will have very little idea of how much the claim is worth and what they are entitled to claim.
Consequently individuals may not receive as much compensation as they currently do. If an individual pursues action on their own and the Defendant insurer fails to settle, they will have to navigate the complex court process completing documents such as the particulars of claim, the claim form and file papers with the court without any assistance.
However, employing a legal representative to assist with your claim can be beneficial because the value of the claim will be higher and the chances of success may also increase because the solicitor will know the correct processes and procedures that must be followed.
In terms of insurers, the new regulations will also have an impact on them, although the changes will be more advantageous to them rather than the claimant. Defendant insurers will no longer have to pay out general damages for an accident that resulted in minor claims. In addition, they will not meet the costs of the claimant’s solicitor. Legal fees incurred during the claim will have to be paid by the claimant on conclusion of the case.
While these new regulations are a win-win situation for the insurer, some professionals have expressed doubt as to whether the savings in whiplash claims will be passed on to the consumer.
Whiplash Injury: The Claims Process
When it comes to making a claim it is important to understand the procedure. As one of the most common injuries that result from car accidents, many whiplash claims are not made because victims do not know where or how to start.
Scene of the Accident
Making a claim for a whiplash injury starts from the scene of the accident. If you are involved in a road traffic accident, it is important that you seek medical attention as required.
Where practical, exchange details with the other party and record their number plate. It is also very important to take the contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident.
Take photographs of damage to both vehicles and the location of the accident. These pieces of information will be crucial when building your case.
Get Medical Attention ASAP
When you have been checked over by a medical professional and as soon as you can contact your insurer to inform them of what has happened. It is then up to you whether you start a claim. To do so you must find a qualified personal injury solicitor who will outline the claims process in detail.
Submit Claim Forms
The procedure for your claim will depend on the value and when the accident took place. Your solicitor will then need to complete and submit a Claims Notification Form through the Ministry of Justices website with the relevant insurer. Completing this form will provide the insurer with all of the information that they need to launch an investigation as part of the claims process.
An insurer will have a total of 15 working days to review the claim and admit or deny liability. If the other party state that the accident was their fault, the solicitors of the claimant will obtain the necessary medical evidence.
This will be reviewed and the claimant’s solicitors will value the claim. After the valuation a Settlement Pack will be issued to the other party again using the Ministry of Justice portal. This pack will include all of the information that the insurer will need to consider the claim and decide if they are going to make an offer of settlement for the whiplash injury.
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This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.