The two parts of a whiplash claim

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident (such as a road accident) that results in you sustaining a whiplash injury, you are likely to be considering making a claim for compensation. If the accident was not your fault then you are perfectly entitled to do this as it seems only fair that you be compensated for your injuries. But what exactly will be included in your claim? After all, it is not just the physical pain your are experiencing but you are likely to also have sustained some sort of financial loss, such as lost earnings, and may also have had your hobbies and interests disrupted due to your injuries.

A whiplash claim is split into two parts – general damages and special damages. Your general damages claim is your claim for the actual pain and suffering you have incurred, i.e. any compensation you receive for your general damages claim will be to compensate you for your actual injuries. The amount of your general damages claim is usually assessed by obtaining a medical report detailing your injuries and then, when a final prognosis has been received (or when you have fully recovered), your injuries and recovery period will be compared to that of previous cases which have been settled where the Claimant has suffered similar injuries to your own and has taken a similar amount of time to recover. Your solicitor will also refer to guidelines called the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines to assess the value of your claim. Negotiations will then take place between your solicitor and the legal representative for the other party to try and agree on how much general damages should be paid to you. Usually this can be agreed between the parties, however, if this is not the case then court proceedings will be issued and the amount of general damages you receive will be decided by a Judge.

The other part of a whiplash claim is called the special damages claim. This includes any out of pocket expenses you have incurred as a direct result of the accident. This could include things such as loss of earnings, loss of overtime, prescription charges, wasted gym membership fees, travelling expenses (i.e. to hospital appointments) and parking fees. The special damages claim is usually easier to quantify as most of the items you are claiming for can be supported by documentary evidence such as payslips and receipts.

Often when people think of payments for whiplash injury compensation they think only of the amount that may be payable for the actual injuries sustained but it is clear that the out of pocket expenses you incur as a direct result of the accident, although not immediately apparent, could add up to quite a significant amount and must be included as part of your claim.

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