Whiplash claiming does not need to be complicated and full of jargon. With our quick guide to common terms you will encounter during a whiplash compensation case, you can make sure you understand exactly what whiplash compensation entails.
Note that you will hardly ever need to know these terms, as your solicitor will handle the complicated aspects of whiplash compensation for you. We provide them only so that you will be better informed and more comfortable with the process.
Case handler: the legal professional dealing with your case.
Causation: in a whiplash claim causation must be proved. This is when your lawyer proves that the accident that you had, and the negligence of another road user, directly caused the whiplash injury that you are suffering from.
Claimant: if you are making a whiplash injury claim against another individual you are the claimant.
Contest: if a defendant contests a claim they dispute the whiplash claim that you are making against them, i.e. they do not agree that they are liable for the crash and your subsequent whiplash.
Damages: this is the financial compensation you receive for the losses which you have suffered as a result of the negligence of a third party’s actions, damages are split into general damages and special damages.
Defendant: the individual that you are making a whiplash claim against is the defendant.
Duty of care: duty of care is a legal obligation an individual has towards you to act in line with a certain standard. Breaching duty of care is an act of negligence. For example, a road user will have failed in their duty of care towards you as a fellow road user if they have driven badly and caused a crash that gave you a whiplash injury.
General damages: this refers to the figure of financial compensation that will be calculated depending upon the extent of the injuries that you are suffering. This will attempt to compensate you fully for the impact the injury itself has had upon your life. Working out how much you should be compensated will include a medical assessment and will take into account how your injury has affected your current and your long-term earnings.
Head restraint: the head restraint is at the top of your seat in the car and it is a safety feature that is intended to limit the movement of your head. Many people do not know but if you properly adjust this restraint it can reduce the extent of whiplash symptoms you would suffer following a collision. The top of your head restraint should be in line with the top of your head and it should be positioned as close to the back of your head as possible.
Hyperextension: whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head and neck backwards and then forwards. The backwards movement of the head occurs first, immediately following initial rear impact. The body accelerates forwards but the head is left behind. This causes hyperextension – the backwards movement of muscles and ligaments, beyond normal range.
Hyperflexion: whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head and neck backwards and then forwards. The forward movement of the head occurs after the body’s forwards movement is restricted by the seatbelt. This flings the head in the forward direction and causes hyperflexion – the forward movement of muscles and ligaments, beyond normal range.
Liability: Who was responsible for the accident that occurred? Your lawyer will have to prove the liability lies with the defendant for your whiplash claim to be successful.
Litigation: court proceedings against the defendant. These will occur if a settlement amount cannot be agreed upon outside the courtroom.
Litigation friend: it is only possible for child whiplash compensation claims to go ahead if the child has a litigation friend. This is an adult who acts on behalf of the child and makes decisions for them, and they have to have the child's best interests at heart.
Medico-legal: something that involves both medical and legal aspects. A whiplash compensation claim, or parts of it, may fall into this category. Medico-legal issues require special expertise to resolve.
Negligence: if another individual or organisation has been negligent their actions will have caused your whiplash injury due to their failure to uphold their duty of care towards you.
RTA: Road Traffic Accident
Settlement: the amount that is agreed on in court to be paid to you in compensation. You will reject or accept an offer for settlement.
Special damages: this refers to the figure of financial compensation that will be calculated depending on losses that you have suffered beyond the pain of your injuries. This may be the cost of your car, your insurance excess, your medical treatment, adaptations to your home and your travel to and from appointments. These are just examples of items which will be incorporated into a compensation figure for special damages and items which are reimbursed differ slightly on a case by case basis.
Severity: this refers to special measures of the amount of harm and personal difficulty the whiplash injury has caused you. A severe whiplash injury may carry the possibility of surgery, severe and permanent pain, or pain that is recurring. A ‘minor’ whiplash injury is still painful, but a full recovery will be made within a year of the accident.
Third party capture: insurers may try and contact you to settle the whiplash claim prior to you being able to consult with a solicitor. Always talk to a solicitor first as this figure will very often be far too low.
Tort law: law concerning ‘civil wrongs’. These ‘civil wrongs’ are actions of an individual or organisation which result in injury or harm to another person. The harmed person can make a claim for compensation. Personal injury is a type of tort, and whiplash is a type of personal injury claim. The aim of tort is to deter individuals from engaging in actions that cause harm and to provide relief for damages incurred by harm.
Valuation: How much should you be compensated for the injuries and the financial losses that you have suffered? This will involve looking at past settlements and at facts about the money you have lost. The average whiplash claim payout differs depending on how severe your whiplash injury was, but a typical compensation claim will be for an amount between £1000 and £16000.
Whiplash: whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by a rapid movement of neck and head – usually forwards and backwards but sometimes sideways. This causes damage to the soft tissues and ligaments in your neck. Whiplash results in tenderness, difficulty moving, nausea and headaches among other symptoms.