If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering if you are entitled to make a compensation claim for a whiplash injury. On this page, you will find some general guidance relating to whiplash injuries and Irish law.
Instigating a Whiplash Injury Compensation Claim
In the Irish system currently, the typical award for general damages for whiplash injuries tends to be in the region of €10,000 to €20,000 if fully recovered within 12 to 18 months. Obviously the cost of any physiotherapy, acupuncture, GP visits required to treat the injury in the meantime will form part of the claim for special damages separately from the claim for general damages.
The evidence required to support a typical claim for whiplash injury would be a report from a GP, in which they will document the nature of the symptoms, treatment, progress and prognosis etc. If the injury is ongoing or problematic, MRI scans and x-rays may be required and it may be necessary to consult with orthopaedic experts. Obviously, the primary concern is to treat the medical condition in accordance with the best medical advice, the evidence required to support the claim will just be recording and demonstrating this in order to enable the claim to be assessed accurately.
Generally speaking there does not tend to be any surgical intervention in whiplash. Headaches can be a big problem, and it may be necessary to be seen by a neurologist if these persist.
Book of Quantum
You may find Section 2, Page 27 of the Personal Injury Assessment Board’s Book of Quantum, useful as a guide to Whiplash definitions and compensation amounts. In particular, you may find the following information regarding compensation claim amounts of interest.
Minor Injuries – substantially recovered or a full recovery expected
Claims of up to up to €19,400.
These injuries are minor soft tissue, whiplash injuries. Whilst the duration of symptoms will be of importance, there are also other factors that need to be considered when calculating the assessment. Such factors would include the nature of the neck injury, the intensity of the pain and extent of the symptoms, the presence of additional symptoms in the back or shoulder areas, the impact of the injuries on the person’s ability to work and/or the extent of the treatment.
Claims of €20,400 to €30,200.
These injuries would be moderate soft tissue injuries where the period of recovery has been protracted and where there remains an increased vulnerability to further trauma. Also within this bracket would be injuries which may have accelerated or exacerbated a pre-existing condition over a period of time, usually no more than five years.
Moderately Severe Injuries
Claims of €34,400 to €52,200.
These injuries involve the soft tissue or wrenching type injury of the more severe type resulting in serious limitation of movement, recurring pain, stiffness and discomfort and the possible need for surgery or increased vulnerability to further trauma. This would also include injuries which may have accelerated and/or exacerbated a pre-existing condition over a prolonged period of time, usually more than five years resulting in ongoing pain and stiffness.
Severe and Permanent Injuries
Claims of €44,600 to €77,900.
The most severe category. These injuries will have also affected the structure of the neck and the discs, resulting in serious limitation of movement and the requirement for surgery. Little or no movement regained on a permanent basis resulting in ongoing pain and stiffness with the necessity to wear a collar for long periods in the day.
Average payouts for whiplash injuries are around the €20,000 mark, according to a recent report by The Irish Times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Will a whiplash claim affect my insurance?
If you have suffered a personal injury involving whiplash caused by the negligence of someone else, then investigating and bringing a claim against that third party should not have any effect on your insurance. Your insurance should only be affected if there is a claim against you, i.e. if you were at fault and someone else makes a claim against you.
Q. Can I claim whiplash compensation if the accident was my fault?
If an accident that caused you a whiplash injury was entirely your fault then and you cannot bring a claim against anyone else. Your own insurance will not cover you for personal injury caused by you. However, if someone else was partially responsible for the accident and you contributed to the cause of the accident in some way, you may still be able to bring a claim against that third party, with the value of your claim reduced by the amount of your contributory negligence.
Q. How do I claim whiplash compensation?
Ideally, your preparation for any claim should commence at the scene of the accident where you should obtain the insurance details of the driver of the other vehicle or the vehicle registration details if the driver left without providing you with insurance details. You must then notify the other driver and their insurers (or the MIBI if uninsured) within one month of the date of the accident. You will then need to lodge your claim for compensation with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment within two years of the date of the accident.
Q. Can I claim whiplash compensation without a solicitor?
It is possible to make a claim for a whiplash injury without consulting a solicitor, by making the claim to the driver’s insurers or the Personal Injuries Assessment Board directly yourself. However, not seeking the advice of a qualified personal injury solicitor could result in a fair and just settlement not being reached. The insurance company is under no obligation to make you aware of the true value of your claim and will not do so. Consulting a specialist solicitor ensures that you have a clear idea of what you can claim for, how to overcome denials of liability, what evidence may be needed and what would equal a fair settlement for all of your injuries and losses.
Q. Is there a time limit to making a whiplash claim?
Under the Statute of Limitations the time limit for claims for compensation for personal injury, including whiplash injury, is 2 years from the date of the accident. However, it is very important that you also notify the person you claim is responsible for your injury in writing within one month of the accident.
Q. How long does a whiplash compensation claim take?
This varies considerably depending on a number of factors, including whether liability for the accident is admitted or contested and how long your injuries take to settle. As a general guide, once your claim is admitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board it takes an average of seven months from the date the party that you are making the claim against (Respondent) agrees to the PIAB process. However, if the other party does not agree to the PIAB process or you are not happy with the amount awarded by the PIAB, the process can take considerably longer.
Q. Can I claim whiplash compensation for my child?
If your child has sustained a whiplash injury in an accident that was not their fault, you or their other parent can make a claim on their behalf. It is advisable to seek advice from a reputable personal injury solicitor to determine the maximum amount of compensation you can claim for your child and the correct procedure for doing so.
Q. How do I make a whiplash claim against an uninsured driver?
The procedure for instigating a claim for whiplash injuries against an uninsured driver is slightly different. Claims against uninsured drivers must be notified to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), the body who administers claims against uninsured drivers, within one month of the date of the accident. It’s therefore important to seek the advice of a specialist whiplash claims solicitor, as soon as you have determined this situation.
About McCarthy + Co
With more than 30 years of experience in dealing with personal injury claims *, McCarthy + Co. has expertise in a wide variety of fields including workplace and road traffic accidents. We are a family-run business, who pride ourselves on offering honest, impartial and helpful advice.
Our offices are based in Dublin and Cork but we have worked with clients throughout Ireland in locations ranging from Galway to Waterford. You can count on us for legal advice, guidance and assistance on any form of personal injury *.
Get in contact with our experienced solicitors today to start a whiplash injury claim * or to gather more information regarding your desire to do so. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.