Understanding Whiplash: Pursuing compensation for injury claims.

Written by Michaela Christie

Introduction – causes and symptoms

Whiplash refers to various neck and spinal injuries primarily caused by road traffic accidents but can also occur due to slipping, tripping, or any abrupt jolting of the neck or upper spine. The severity of whiplash ranges from mild stiffness and discomfort to severe symptoms like headaches, disrupted sleep, and even permanent disabilities. Recovery typically occurs within 2-8 weeks for minor cases but can take several months for more serious injuries. Compensation claims are higher for those with severe symptoms or emotional distress such as anxiety or depression, which may indicate chronic whiplash. Assessing damages for such cases can be contentious.

Presenting the evidence

As with any claim for personal injury, there is generally an expectation to provide sufficient evidence. For a person to be able to prove that they have suffered a whiplash injury, they will be required to attend a medical appointment whereby an independent medical expert will ascertain the symptoms which they have suffered due to the accident. Similarly, the affected party may also visit the hospital or their GP.

Obtaining the medical records of a pursuer may also serve as supportive of their case where an injury can be corroborated. However, whiplash injuries can often take a few hours or up to a few days to become noticeable, therefore clients do not always seek immediate treatment from a GP or hospital. As such, it is common for many people to have opted to treat themselves post-accident with over-the-counter pain relief to alleviate their discomfort. Nonetheless, adequate medical evidence is regarded as a necessity in verifying the severity of the injury sustained.

Securing whiplash compensation
Negotiating a settlement figure with a defender outside of court can become quite challenging. As such, certain key factors must be taken into consideration. In addition to injury, where a loss of earnings, car and repairs costs have been incurred, it is unreasonable to provide a statement of valuation of claim to a defender without prior thorough investigation. Similarly, once the appropriate level of initial evidence has been ingathered, only then can a solicitor or claims handler advise a client on the expected outcome of compensation which they can expect to receive for their injuries.

Given every claim is different, there is no one size fits all valuation available due simply to the nature of the injuries which the pursuer may have sustained. For example, a client might have suffered an exacerbation of a serious injury previously obtained in a past and unrelated accident. Accordingly, due to the present accident an underlying asymptomatic injury may have subsequently become symptomatic. This in turn, has then caused a negative consequential impact on the daily life of the pursuer. Circumstances such as these will often alter the value of a claim. Moreover, disclosing the appropriate requested evidence subsequently enables the defenders to put forward their offer to the pursuer with the intention of settling the matter efficiently.

In negotiating a settlement for whiplash compensation, several factors are crucial. The severity of the injury and its impact on the claimant’s life are significant considerations. When a claim reaches court, the central question is whether, how would you have been but for the other person’s negligence. What would you not have had to pay for? If you have lost income what would you have been paid? Finally, how would you have been physically and mentally had the accident not happened? Successful settlements often occur when all necessary evidence is gathered and disclosed, prompting offers from the other party. Determining the compensation amount requires thorough examination of medical evidence.

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