Whiplash Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a whiplash injury we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a whiplash injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming whiplash compensation:

Low value whiplash claims - Updated June 2021

The regulations for making a lower-value road accident claim (sometimes called 'small claims') have changed.

From 31 May 2021, some lower-value whiplash claims should be made using the Ministry of Justice’s new Official Injury Claim Service online portal.

If you were injured in a vehicle, and the general damages for your injuries are likely to be under £5,000, the Official portal will be used to make your claim. The portal should also be used if the total value (general damages and special damages) for your claim is less than £10,000.

Claims for cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and children are not affected by the new regulations.

The new process can be daunting, and we are here to help. You can still use a solicitor to calculate the value of your compensation and to help you make a low value claim through the portal.

No Win, No Fee compensation for low value whiplash claims

Some solicitors are no longer assisting with lower-value claims, but we can still help you make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim for a lower-value road accident claim.

Read more:

Claiming compensation through the small claims process.

How to use the Official Injury Claim portal to claim compensation

How do I know if I have whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forward, backward, or sideways.

What are the symptoms?

Whiplash symptoms include neck pain and stiffness. Whiplash affects people in different ways, and the pain can be severe in some cases.

Symptoms can be delayed, sometimes manifesting days after an accident.

What should I do if I think I have whiplash?

The first thing to do is to seek immediate medical attention. Whiplash can lead to severe and long-term injury if not treated appropriately. You may also have other injuries that are not immediately apparent.

Medical attention is also a critical part of the whiplash claims process. A formal medical diagnosis will support your compensation claim.

If you are involved in a road accident, you should report the accident to the police as soon as possible. A police report will provide useful supporting evidence.

Do I have a whiplash claim?

You should be able to make a whiplash injury claim if your injury happened:

  • in the last three years, and;
  • someone else was at fault, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.
Check my claim

Claim eligibility - Common questions

What if the road accident was my fault?

If you think you were partly responsible for the road accident or for your injury, it should still be possible to make a claim.

In these cases, claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.

For example, if you were 50% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 50% less compensation.

Read more about when there is uncertainty as to who is to blame.

What if the driver was uninsured or untraceable?

If the driver responsible for the injury is either uninsured or untraceable, a claim can be pursued through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).

The MIB is an independent body that pays road accident compensation to the victims of uninsured or untraced (unidentified) drivers.

Read more

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a whiplash claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

Do I need a medical diagnosis before making a claim?

Minor cases of whiplash are often treated with painkillers. An injured person may not even feel they need to see a doctor.

For the purposes of a compensation claim, however, your solicitor will refer you to a medical expert to carry out a medical assessment, which will be carried out at a location near you.

Following the assessment, the doctor will confirm the whiplash diagnosis in a medical report. This report will offer critical evidence in support of your claim.

X-rays and scans are not usually required as soft-tissue injuries will not often be visible. It is advisable to always seek the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible after the accident as possible.

How much compensation can I claim for whiplash?

How much you can receive for a whiplash claim will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your whiplash has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a whiplash? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Average whiplash compensation payouts

The following whiplash payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fifteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.

From 31st May 2021, a new, lower whiplash tariff applies to injuries caused when riding inside a road vehicle.

New 2021 Whiplash soft tissue injury amounts

Duration Pre-31 May New amount New amount with psychological harm*
Less than 3 months £300 to £1,950 £240 £260
3 to 6 months £1,950 to £3,470 £495 £520
6 to 9 months £1,950 to £3,470 £840 £895
9 to 12 months £1,950 to £3,470 £1,320 £1,390
12 to 15 months £3,470 to £6,290 £2,040 £2,125
15 to 18 months £3,470 to £6,290 £3,005 £3,100
18 to 24 months £3,470 to £6,290 £4,215 £4,435

*Additional compensation is awarded if the whiplash injury is accompanied by minor psychological issues caused by the same accident.

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.

The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.

For example:

General damages for a serious neck injury can be £52,000

For a less severe shoulder injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £4,500.

However, if you have a serious neck injury and a less severe shoulder injury, you would typically receive £52,000 + a reduced percentage of £4,500.

Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries. Read more about multiple injury claims.

What is the average injury compensation for a whiplash claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a whiplash will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your whiplash compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

Can I get an interim payment?

Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.

What if I am not yet sure of the extent of my injury?

If you have not yet sought medical attention, your solicitor will arrange a medical assessment for you ASAP. If you are awaiting test results, a claim can still be started. Once the extent of the injuries are known, the settlement can be calculated.

Calculate my whiplash compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a whiplash injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your whiplash claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a whiplash claim take?

The length of time needed to get compensation for whiplash can vary significantly.

For instance, a straightforward liability accepted injury claim could be completed in a couple of months. If the defendant denies liability, the process might take longer. Typically, an injury claim takes between 4 and 9 months. To read more about how long your claim could take, see: How long will my claim take?

Should I deal directly with the insurer?

Although you can deal directly with the defendant's insurance company, there are risks to this approach.

The most significant danger is that you under-settle your claim. For example, this could leave you unable to fund a full course of physio, delaying your recovery, or could cause financial difficulties if you have to take out a loan to make up the shortfall.

What are the benefits of using a solicitor for my whiplash claim?

A personal injury solicitor will:

  • Help you through every step of the claims process
  • Be familiar with insurance company tricks and negotiating tactics
  • On average, get up to 3 times more compensation when going through a solicitor (source: Financial Conduct Authority)

Read more:

The risks and benefits of dealing directly with insurance companies.

No win, no fee, no risk

No win, no fee takes all of the risk out of making a whiplash claim. If you don't win your claim, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a whiplash injury compensation claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my whiplash claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my whiplash claim?

If your whiplash claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Can I get Legal Aid?

Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your whiplash claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

Will I get advice on treatment options?

As part of the whiplash claims process, your solicitor can arrange a thorough and independent needs assessment. The assessment may offer advice on treatment, access to treatments and therapies not always available on the NHS and co-ordination with rehabilitation providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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FAQ's

What is the 2021 average payout for whiplash?

Average whiplash compensation payouts based on the new 2021 tariff are lower than whiplash payouts for injuries prior to April 2021.

Whiplash claim amounts still depend on the seriousness and duration of the injury.

For example:

  • Whiplash that fully recovers within 3 months - £240
  • Whiplash that recovers within 1 year - £1,320
  • Whiplash that recovers within 2 years - £4,215

2021 whiplash compensation payouts will be increased if you have suffered mental health issues as a result of the accident, such as post-traumatic stress.

What if I was partly to blame?

Even at the scene of an accident, it is not always obvious which driver was responsible for the crash.

In cases where responsibility for an accident or injury is shared by both sides, it should still be possible to claim whiplash compensation. These compensation claims are usually resolved with a split liability agreement.

You will likely still be awarded some compensation, but the final amount will be reduced. If the court decides that you were 25% responsible for your injuries, for example, you will receive 25% less compensation.

What if there is uncertainty as to who is to blame?

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need to visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I make a claim as a passenger?

Yes. From the point of view of making a whiplash claim, whether you were driving or were a passenger is immaterial. What matters is that you were injured, and that it was not your fault.

Can injured car or vehicle passengers get compensation?

Who pays the whiplash claim compensation?

Road traffic accident claims are usually settled by the defendant's insurance company. If the defendant does not have insurance (or is untraceable), claimants can apply to the Motor Insurers Bureau' (MIB).

Can I make a claim if the symptoms have cleared up?

Yes. You can, if you obtained medical attention at the time and this corroborates your injury. It will usually be necessary to obtain copies of any supporting medical evidence.

Can I make a claim if there was no damage to the car?

Yes. Whiplash can be sustained in a low-speed collision where there is no vehicle damage. It is also possible to sustain injuries where there is no collision at all, e.g. when a driver is forced to brake suddenly.

For example, a negligent driver's conduct may cause another road user to perform an emergency stop. A collision may be avoided, but the abrupt braking could well cause a whiplash injury, particularly if your vehicle was travelling at speed.

Can I make a claim if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?

Yes. It is still possible to make a claim if you were not wearing a seat belt.

However, it is assumed that you have contributed to the seriousness of your injuries. This is known as contributory negligence. Your compensation award will be reduced (often by around 25%). This is to reflect the amount of compensation you would have got, if you had worn a seat belt and, therefore, received less serious injuries.

Read more about claims for road accident compensation without a seatbelt.

Interim compensation payments for whiplash

An interim payment is when you receive a part-payment of your whiplash compensation before the claim has been finally settled.

These payments can be arranged if your whiplash injury means you are:

  • Unable to work, or,
  • Unable to pay for treatment (such as physiotherapy)

In order for an interim payment to be paid, your whiplash claim must meet certain criteria.

Can my solicitor get me an interim payment?

Can I make a claim if I had no insurance?

Maybe. As a passenger, you can make a whiplash claim without insurance. This is because in most cases, compensation is paid out by the negligent driver's insurance company, not your own.

If you are a driver involved in an accident that was not your fault and you do not have insurance, the situation is more complicated. Driving without valid insurance is an offence. Whether you can still make a claim will depend on the facts of the case.

How long does a whiplash claim take?

How fast a whiplash claim will reach a settlement will depend on a number of factors.

Compared to other types of accident claim, whiplash claims for road accidents are usually quick to resolve. The quickest whiplash claim could pay out in a matter of weeks, with most resolving within four months.

Read more about how long a whiplash case should take

Should I claim whiplash compensation through my insurance?

When you make a personal injury claim for whiplash (or any other injury that occurs as the result of a road accident) the claim is usually handled by the negligent driver's insurance company.

In these circumstances, your car insurance coverage you have should not be affected.

What the insurance companies do not want you to know

Recent research by the Financial Conduct Authority has revealed claimants get on average three times more compensation if they:

  • Turn down an insurance company's initial offer, and,
  • Instruct a special solicitor

This information was only available publicly as a result of a Freedom of Information Act challenge.

Knock-for-knock whiplash claims

If both sides admit some degree of fault, or there is no agreement as to who caused an accident, the insurance companies of the two drivers may agree to settle the case on a knock for knock basis.

This means that compensation is paid out by each driver's own insurer, not the other side.

Knock-for-knock saves insurance companies money in legal fees, and will resolve the matter faster, but it can affect drivers own claim history and future premiums.

For this reason, the practice may be seen by some as unfair, benefiting the insurers more than it does the innocent party.

Whiplash pre-medical offers

Insurance companies may sometimes make a settlement offer known as a pre-medical offer.

For more information please see 'Should I accept a pre-medical offer?'.

How do I find the best whiplash claim company or lawyer for my case?

In theory, whiplash compensation claim payouts should not depend on the claim company or whiplash solicitor you choose. That said, some whiplash lawyers may recommend you process your claim quickly, so you can receive your whiplash compensation faster.

Other solicitors may recommend that you wait until you are fully recovered, to ensure you receive the maximum whiplash compensation for your injury.

Can I make a claim as a car passenger?

Yes. From the point of view of making a claim, whether you were driving or were a passenger is immaterial. What matters is that you were injured, and that it was not your fault.

Can injured car or vehicle passengers get compensation?

Can I make a claim if there was no damage to the car?

Yes. Injuries can be sustained in a low-speed collision where there is no vehicle damage. It is even possible to sustain injuries where there is no collision at all, e.g. when a driver is forced to brake suddenly.

For example, a negligent driver's conduct may cause another road user to perform an emergency stop. A collision may be avoided, but the abrupt braking could well cause a whiplash injury, particularly if your vehicle was travelling at speed.

Can I make a claim if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?

Yes. It is still possible to make a claim if you were not wearing a seat belt.

However, it would likely be assumed that you contributed to the seriousness of your injuries. This is known as contributory negligence. Your compensation award will be reduced (often by around 25%). This is to reflect the amount of compensation you would have got, if you had worn a seat belt and, therefore, received less serious injuries.

Read more about claims for road accident compensation without a seatbelt.

What should I do if my car insurer wants me to claim through them?

Some insurance companies have tried to deter genuine road traffic accident claimants from claiming the full compensation to which they are entitled. Insurance companies do not want you to make a claim and will try to minimise the compensation paid out if you do claim.

If you have already been contacted by an insurance company offering to deal directly with your road accident claim, remember that most insurance companies are responsible to their shareholders, not to you as the injured person.

Instructing an expert road accident solicitor gives you the peace of mind that you have an independent specialist on your side.

A solicitor has a duty of care to you, their client, and will seek to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for the harm that has been done.

If you pursue your claim through a solicitor you have the added reassurance of being represented by a professional regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Can I claim if I had no insurance?

Maybe. As a car passenger, you can make a claim without car insurance. This is because in most cases, compensation is paid out by the negligent car driver's insurance company, not your own.

If you are a driver involved in an accident that was not your fault and you do not have insurance, the situation is more complicated. Driving without valid insurance is an offence. Whether you can still make a claim will depend on the facts of the case.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher