How old do I have to be to make a claim for whiplash?

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and you are, for example, under the age of 18 you may be wondering how old you have to be to make a claim for whiplash compensation. This article addresses this question as well as looking at what exactly causes whiplash, what the symptoms of whiplash are and how you go about making a claim for whiplash compensation.

How old do I have to be to make a claim for whiplash?

What exactly is a whiplash injury and how is it caused?

Whiplash is the name given to damage to the soft-tissue and ligaments in the neck. A whiplash injury is caused when the head and neck are forcefully and suddenly thrown back and forth causing the muscles and ligaments in the neck to be stretched beyond their usual range of movement. A whiplash injury is usually – but not always – caused by the occurrence of a road traffic accident, usually where one car has gone into the back of another. Whiplash can affect people of any age.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

The symptoms of whiplash are not always apparent straight away but may take several hours, or even days, to appear. They can include pain and discomfort in the neck and back, headaches, dizziness, pins and needles in the arms and hands, nausea and restricted movement of the neck.

How do you go about making a claim for whiplash

When you have found a solicitor that you are happy with to pursue your whiplash claim for you (do not be fooled into believing that you have to use the solicitor suggested by your insurance company – you are free to choose), if the accident was not your fault, your solicitor will arrange for you to attend a medical examination where your injuries will be fully assessed and a report will be prepared detailing your injuries. Your solicitor will arrange any follow up treatment that you require. The medical report will be used by your solicitor to assess the value of your claim. He will do this by comparing your injuries and (predicted) recovery period with Claimants whose cases have previously settled and who suffered similar injuries to your own and took a similar amount of time to recover. Your solicitor will then disclose the medical report to the third party’s legal representative and will begin negotiating settlement of your claim.

How old do I have to be to pursue a whiplash compensation claim?

Anyone can pursue a whiplash compensation claim, if the accident was not their fault, regardless of their age. However, persons under the age of 18 will need to be represented by an adult – or a ‘Litigation Friend’ - who will act on their behalf and will liaise with the solicitor. Alternatively, if somebody has an accident whilst under the age of 18 and no action is bought on their behalf by a Litigation Friend whilst they are a child, the injured party then has until the date of their 21st birthday in which to pursue a claim and as soon as they reach the age of 18 they no longer need to be represented by a Litigation Friend.

Summary

To summarise, whiplash can affect people of any age and if you are not at fault for the accident you are entitled to make a claim for whiplash compensation either with or without the help of a Litigation Friend, depending on your age. Essentially, all potential Claimants in whiplash cases have three years in which to pursue a claim – for persons over the age of 18 at the time of the accident this three year time period starts from the date of the accident. For people (children) who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident that three year time period starts from the date of their 18th birthday.

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