Whiplash Claims for Car Passengers

Introduction to Whiplash Claims for Car Passengers

Whiplash claims for car passengers are a highly common occurrence. Over half a million people will initiate the whiplash injury claim process every year – which accounts for nearly 75 percent of claims made to motor insurance companies.

Claims of compensation for whiplash are often dismissed by the media as “questionable”. However whiplash can be a serious injury – usually even more so for car passengers – and can become a severe health concern if not tended to in time by a medical professional.

If you have sustained a whiplash injury as a passenger, there is a strong likelihood you were not at fault for the accident in question. In this situation a whiplash injury solicitor should be contacted at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that you receive a fair compensation amount for your whiplash injury which takes into account the pain you have suffered and the incapacity you have endured.

Symptoms of Whiplash Injuries

In order to understand why whiplash claims for car passengers may be particularly serious, the injury itself must be understood. It is caused by the abnormal and unexpected stretching of ligaments and soft tissues at the top of the spine after the head snaps back and forward upon impact. In this situation it may happen after being involved in a car accident.

The initial symptoms may begin with neck ache and tenderness surrounding the injured area. Symptoms may also be noticeable as headaches or pins and needles in the arms and legs because of nervous system damage in the spinal cord.

In the situation that your whiplash injury has occurred due to the negligence of a third party that had a duty of responsibility towards your health and safety, you may be eligible to make a claim of compensation for whiplash.

Initiating the Whiplash Injury Claim Process

The initial steps of whiplash claims for car passengers should be closely followed in order to assist any claim for compensation which may follow.

The first step in the whiplash injury claim process is to seek medical attention without delay. This will not only prevent your injury from worsening, but will also halt a particular defence against your claim. If a notable gap exists between the date of your injury and your initial visit to a GP, the defence against your claim may suggest that your injury was not significant enough as to warrant medical attention or that it could have been sustained in an unrelated incident.

Additionally, if your injuries became worse as a result of the delay in receiving medical attention, the amount of compensation for whiplash to which you may be entitled may be decreased because of your carelessness towards your own health. As the pain caused by other injuries suffered in an accident could make initial whiplash injuries less noticeable, you are advised to seek a full medical examination at the earliest opportunity.

Once you have acquired medical treatment, the accident should be reported to the relevant authorities – provided that the driver of your vehicle has not done so already. If the police did not visit the scene of the accident, you should attend the nearest police station and note the incident in the police’s “Accident Report Book”. A copy of this entry should be kept in order to keep as evidence for your solicitor, along with other documentation which may be useful in supporting your claim.

Letter of Claim for Whiplash Injury

After whiplash claims for car passengers have been assessed by a solicitor, and it is established that there are grounds for compensation, a Letter of Claim will be sent to the insurance company of the party whose negligence resulted in your injuries.

Twenty-one days will be given for the insurance company to reply to the Letter of Claim, after which they will have ninety days in order to confirm whether or not they will accept responsibility for your injuries. If they accept responsibility, negotiations will begin between your solicitor and the insurance company in order for you to receive the maximum possible compensation amount.

If the insurance company rejects responsibility for your injuries, court proceedings will be initiated by your solicitor in order to resolve your claim in the courtroom. Appearing before the court is not necessarily certain, as insurance companies may be wary of the potential costs for which they may become liable should your claim be successful, and may wish to settle your claim out-of-court.

The Whiplash Injury Claim Process for Children

Whiplash claims for car passengers who are children follow a slightly different process. As a child is legally unable to initiate legal action – or instruct a solicitor to do so on their behalf – until he or she reaches the age of eighteen, a parent or guardian must do so on their behalf acting as a “Litigation Friend”.

This “Litigation Friend” cannot have a conflict of interest in the child’s claim – for instance, if they were the negligent driver responsible for the child’s injuries – and will be liable for any financial responsibility which may arise if the claim is unsuccessful.

Most of the processes involved in claiming compensation for a child are exactly the same as claiming for an adult. In situations where parent and child have been injured in the same accident, claims for compensation for whiplash may be pursued together.

Any settlement of compensation offered in a claim for a child must be approved by a court, after which the settlement sum is paid into court funds. This settlement will be kept by the court until the child turns eighteen years of age. If funds are required for medical or educational needs, they may be provided upon application to the court.

The whiplash injury claim process will be conducted in the exact same manner for passengers and drivers. This claim can be made against the driver of the car in which the passenger was travelling if the driver was the negligent party who is liable for the injuries. Like any other passenger, whiplash compensation may be higher for children as they may suffer more severe injuries as they perhaps did not have the opportunity to brace themselves for the impact of an accident.

Unsolicited Offers of Compensation for Whiplash Injury

Regardless of whether an adult or child makes whiplash claims for car passengers, there is a high possibility that the insurance company of the negligent party will make an unsolicited offer of whiplash compensation to a potential claimant.

Any potential claimant should be wary of such offers. These offers are made as insurance companies seek to pay as little compensation as possible to victims of accidents while they are at their most vulnerable. If such an offer is extended to you, it should be brought to the attention of your solicitor without delay.

In the event that an unsolicited offer of whiplash injury compensation is inadvertently accepted – and the compensation later transpired to be insufficient to pay for your medical treatment or support your family – you will be unable to return to the insurance company seeking more funds. If your financial situation is of serious concern, your solicitor will advise that you reject the offer and that interim compensation payments are organised until such time that your claim is fully resolved.

Compensation Amounts for Whiplash Injuries

The amount of compensation to which you could be eligible for your whiplash injury will rely upon the scale and seriousness of your injuries, as well as the effect they have had upon your life. The Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General – a publication which list previous compensation for whiplash settlements – will be referred to in order to determine how much compensation to which you are entitled for the pain and discomfort you have endured, compensation for “loss of amenity” which has prevented you from partaking in everyday activities and for trauma you have suffered psychologically due to your injuries.

Financial expenses which you have incurred as a direct result of your accident and injury may also be recovered in whiplash claims for car passengers. This can include the price of repair work needed for your vehicle, the cost of alternative transport while unable to drive and compensation for income lost while unable to work when recovering from your injuries.

It is crucial to remember that no two whiplash compensation claims will be identical. As women and children generally have weaker neck muscles and soft tissue surrounding the cervical spine, they are likely to receive more injury compensation than men. Loss of amenity will result in a greater amount for those who are socially active than for those who sit in front of the television; and a person on a high salary will recover more compensation for loss of income than somebody on a lower salary.

Seeking Compensation for Whiplash with “No Win, No Fee” Representation

“No Win, No Fee” is perhaps the preferred method of pursuing whiplash claims for car passengers. This is a conditional fee arrangement which allows claimants to pursue the whiplash injury claim process with the reassurance that, should their claim be unsuccessful, they will not be liable for the legal fees of their solicitor. However “No Win, No Fee” representation is not always the best option for everyone.

In the scenario where your claim is unsuccessful, you may be responsible for the legal fees of the defendant against whom you made the claim. In this case, you will be advised to examine whether you already have legal fee insurance from your credit card, through membership of a motoring organisation or car insurance policy.

If the “before the event” insurance you already hold is insufficient to protect you against possible financial liability, it may be recommended by your solicitor that “after the event” insurance policy is acquired, which can offer protection against finances for which you could be liable under a “No Win, No Fee” conditional arrangement. Regardless of the strength of your claim and whether your solicitor will agree to represent you on a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement, success in a whiplash injury claim cannot be assured.

Further Information on Whiplash Claims for Car Passengers

Whiplash claims for car passengers are amongst the most frequent types of claim made in the UK. Nonetheless, each claim for compensation for whiplash is unique and, if you have further queries regarding the amount of compensation for whiplash to which you may be entitled, the whiplash injury claim process or any other area of whiplash claims for car passengers, you are advised to discuss the particular details of your case with a personal injury solicitor at the earliest opportunity.


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