Can I Make A Claim For A Second Whiplash Injury?
If you have been involved in an accident and have suffered a whiplash injury for the second time in your life you may be wondering whether you are still able to make a claim for compensation. Will the amount you receive in compensation be affected as you have suffered a previous whiplash injury? Will your claim be harder to settle because you have sustained a whiplash injury in the past? The purpose of this article is to answer these questions, and more, about ‘second’ whiplash injuries.
How does a whiplash injury occur?
The most common reason for somebody sustaining a whiplash injury is that they have been involved in a road traffic accident – usually a rear end shunt. The whiplash injury occurs when the head and neck are thrown forcefully back and forth, stretching the neck to its maximum range of movement and causing damage to the soft-tissue and ligaments in the neck.
How do you know if you are suffering from a whiplash injury?
The symptoms of a whiplash injury are not usually apparent until some hours, or even days, after the accident. You may feel pain and discomfort in your neck, shoulders and back as well as experiencing headaches, dizziness, giddiness and pins and needles. If you have any of these symptoms – or, indeed, any other symptoms – you should visit your GP or your local Accident & Emergency department as soon as possible to have your injuries assessed and receive the appropriate treatment.
What if this is the second whiplash injury you have sustained?
If this is the second whiplash injury you have sustained, whether or not you made a claim (and were awarded compensation) for the first injury, you can still make a claim for this second whiplash injury if the cause of the accident was somebody else’s fault. Your solicitor will arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical expert who will provide an assessment of how much of the pain you are now suffering is related to the second occurrence of whiplash and how much, if at all, your previous injury has been exacerbated.
Will the amount of compensation you receive be affected if this is your second whiplash injury?
No. The medical professional examining you will provide a detailed report stating how much this second injury has set you back, or has made your pre-existing injury worse, and the value of your claim will be assessed based on the findings of the medical expert. Your solicitor will look at previously settled cases where Claimants have suffered similar injuries to your own and have suffered a similar degree of aggravation of a pre-existing whiplash injury, and/or have taken a similar amount of time to recover. Your solicitor will also refer to a book called the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines to assess the value of your claim. There is a phrase in law that states a compensating party should ‘take their victim how you find them’. This means that even if your back or neck muscles have been left vulnerable by a previous accident – meaning that you take a longer time to recover than you would have if you did not have the weakened muscles and ligaments – you should not be penalised for this longer recovery period and you should be compensated fairly.
If you think you may be suffering from a whiplash injury it is important that you seek medical and legal advice as soon as possible to maximise your chances of pursuing a successful claim.
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