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How Long Does Whiplash Last?

By Danielle Jordan. Last Updated 22nd February 2023. In this guide, we answer the question “how long does whiplash last?” We’ll also explore how the severity and duration of whiplash symptoms can impact a potential whiplash compensation claim. Every person’s experience with whiplash injuries is unique and different from everybody else’s.

It is impossible to make a general statement about how long a person’s whiplash symptoms may last or what the long term consequences are likely to be. It all depends on how the injury happened and the severity of the injury.

How Long Does Whiplash Last For?

How Long Does Whiplash Last For?

While the symptoms of a mild whiplash injury may last just a few days, the symptoms of a more severe injury could last several months or longer. In some cases, the injury may look deceptively mild in the days immediately following the accident. Sometimes, however, the symptoms may manifest themselves as much as 7 years after the date of the accident.

The time it takes for the whiplash injury to stabilise can also vary widely, from as little as a couple of weeks to as long as two years.

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What Is Whiplash And How Long Does It Last?

Before we talk about how long does whiplash take to heal, we’ll summarise what this injury is and how it may occur. Whiplash is a type of injury in the neck when the ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues are damaged by being suddenly pulled and stretched. It is similar in effect to a sprain injury that you might suffer in your wrist or your hand. It is caused when the head is suddenly thrown back and forth with considerable force.

Though car accidents are not the only potential cause of whiplash, they are the most common cause of the injury. Whiplash can occur when a driver has been jerked forward in their seat by the force of an impact or the momentum of coming to a sudden halt to avoid a collision.

How often do road traffic accidents cause whiplash?

According to statistics published by the Department for Transport, there were 115,584 road casualties reported in Great Britain throughout 2020. Among these casualties, 22,069 were reported to have serious injuries, 92,055 were categorised as slight injuries and 1,460 were fatalities.

However, how many road casualties which occur in Britain specifically lead to whiplash? Answering this question is tricky because whiplash injuries are more difficult to diagnose compared to other potential injuries which road traffic accidents (RTAs) can cause. It is often based on subjective factors and reporting from patients. There are, however, certain reports which can give us some insight into this matter.

According to a Government impact assessment on whiplash (made for the Civil Liability Act 2018), there were about 850,000 personal injury claims made in Britain in 2017/18. Around 650,000 of these claims were for road traffic accidents. Around 90% of these RTA claims were for whiplash injuries.

Symptoms of Whiplash Injuries

The symptoms of a whiplash injury may include one or more of the following:

  • Pain in the neck with or without reduced mobility
  • Pain in the upper or lower back or both
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Numbness or weakness of the arms
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Travel anxiety

How long do whiplash injuries last? And how long will these symptoms affect you? This may depend upon how severe the accident you were in was. It may also depend upon how seriously you were injured.

Understanding The Short And Long Term Symptoms And Effects Of Whiplash

If you were in a very minor collision that happened at moderate speed, you are more likely to experience short term symptoms of whiplash. This may include stiffness and pain in the neck and upper back region, which may or may not be accompanied by a headache.

However, if you were in a more serious collision at high speed, there are higher chances that you may suffer from more severe stiffness and pain in the neck and upper back. This pain may is likely to be accompanied by difficulty moving the head and neck. In such cases, the initial symptoms of the injury are typically felt only about 12 hours after the accident and the full extent of the injury only gets known after a couple of days have passed. Along with the neck and upper back pain, you may also experience severe headaches and insomnia.

Depending on the nerve injured in the accident, you may also suffer vision-related problems, which could be short or long term.

Making a claim for Whiplash Injuries

If you are suffering from whiplash injuries resulting from an accident that was due to no fault of yours, you may be entitled to claim whiplash compensation. The compensation due to you will depend on the nature and severity of the injuries and your actual expenses. Hence why our clients often ask, “how long do whiplash injuries last?”

If your whiplash injuries are very mild and the symptoms resolve themselves within a couple of weeks following self-medication, you may not be eligible to claim compensation.

Now, if your whiplash injuries are minor and heal within a period of about six months, you may be awarded personal injury compensation in the range of about £2,300 to £4,080. As we said earlier, the exact amount may vary depending on other factors, such as the severity of the injury and whether it was accompanied by other symptoms such as travel anxiety or headaches.

If your whiplash injuries are more serious, with symptoms that last more than twelve months, you may be awarded a higher personal injury compensation in the range of about £4,080 to £7,410. You can expect an award in the same range if you suffer from permanent but mild injuries.

The highest compensation is awarded to those who suffer disabling neck injuries that leave them permanently paralyzed. The compensation, in this case, is meant to cover their ongoing treatment as well as their inability to get back to work and earn a living. In such cases, the compensation may be as high as £139,210.

Claiming For Whiplash

If you suffered whiplash due to a breach of duty of care, you could potentially claim against the faulting party. Various parties owe you a duty of care, including your employer, other road users and occupiers or owners of public spaces.

Depending on who breached your duty of care, the process for claiming for whiplash may differ. For example, if you are claiming for whiplash after a car accident, you will need to swap insurance details with the other party, inform your insurer about the accident as soon as possible and potentially collect evidence such as dashcam footage and pictures of your car.

If you were claiming against your employer for a whiplash injury, you would need to record your accident/injury in the workplace accident book and inform your employer of what has occurred.

Regardless of who is liable, you will need to send a formal Letter of Claim to the faulting party, informing them that you intend to claim against them. This letter may also include other relevant details such as the amount of compensation you are seeking. This is when the claims process officially begins.

In order to find out if you have a valid claim, you can speak to our advisors for a free consultation by using the contact details in this guide. They can discuss in detail the whiplash claims process and what to do after sustaining whiplash injuries.

How Long Do Symptoms Of Whiplash Last?

If you suffer a neck injury in a car accident, you may like to know how long do symptoms of whiplash last. This can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Much like with severity, recovery time affects the compensation you could receive.

For example, injuries with a poor prognosis that are expected to cause permanent disability typically have a higher value. Whereas minor injuries with a better prognosis and shorter expected recovery period typically have a lower value.

Additionally, if you suffered more than one injury, such as whiplash and a psychiatric injury, both will be considered when your claim is valued. If your whiplash recovery time is expected to be of a shorter duration but your psychological suffering is expected to take longer to heal, the different recovery times will also be considered.

This also applies if you are claiming for more than one physical injury in the same claim. For example, you may suffer whiplash with a short expected recovery time, a broken leg injury that causes permanent mobility problems as well as a psychiatric injury in the same accident.

When your injuries are assigned value, how long does it take for your whiplash to heal will be considered along with the expected recovery times of any other injuries you suffered. We look at how pain and suffering is valued further in this guide.

If you have any questions about how the duration of your symptoms could affect your award, please call our advisors.

Should you seek treatment early for whiplash injuries or not?

How long do whiplash injuries last? This may depend upon the treatment which you can access for your injuries. Regardless of the compensation, your health should be your first and main priority after a road accident. If you experience any symptoms that indicate you may have whiplash, you should consult with a doctor as quickly as possible. If you do have whiplash, then a doctor can help provide a complete and thorough diagnosis and treatment plan. When you first notice symptoms associated with whiplash, you could consider applying an ice pack to the injured area to help reduce the pain. It could also help prevent the injury from getting worse and reduce your recovery time.

Delayed manifestation of symptoms is common in whiplash injury. Some individuals are symptomatic immediately after the accident but begin to develop one or more symptoms within a few hours or even a few or several days after the incident. Once the symptoms manifest, they may last anywhere from a few days to a few months or even years.

How Long Should I Be Off Work For Whiplash?

When it comes to recovering from whiplash, the NHS advises that it may take around two to three months to heal. However, the length of time you will need to be off work will be dependent on your specific case and is something you can ask your doctor about.

Whiplash injuries to your neck may increase the risk of cervical spondylosis. As this condition can cause and tear to your muscles and bones, you may require further time off work. However, should you be at risk of cervical spondylosis, a car accident settlement may include compensation for the pain and suffering this causes.

Should you need to take extended time off work and lose out on earnings as a result, you may be entitled to claim this loss back as part of special damages.

Get in touch for free legal advice if you have suffered whiplash and seek to make a personal injury claim.

Whiplash Injury Claims Compensation Calculator

When calculating how much compensation for a neck injury, such as whiplash, how long do whiplash injuries last will be factored into the compensation estimate. Those injuries that are more serious, which are longer-lasting or leave claimants with permanent disabilities, may be awarded higher settlements.

In the compensation table below, we look at what different cases of whiplash could be awarded. Settlements for injury claims are unique to your individual case and injuries. This means we can not estimate your settlement until we have spoken to you.

In this table, the majority of the figures are taken from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).

The first two entries in the table are fixed amounts from the tariff set out in the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. However, the other entries are from the JCG and should be used as a guide only.

Edit
Type Of Injury Severity Description Amount
Whiplash One or multiple whiplash injuries Lasting between 15-18 months. £3,005
Whiplash One or multiple whiplash injuries with one or multiple minor psychological injuries Lasting between 15-18 months. £3,100
Neck Injury Severe (i) Associated with incomplete paraplegia that may result in spastic quadriparesis that is permanent. In the region of £148,330
Neck Injury Severe (ii) Serious injuries to the cervical spinal discs which result in a significant disability. £65,740 to £130,930
Neck Injury Severe (iii) Chronic neck injuries caused by fractures , severe soft tissue injuries, dislocations or a ruptured tendons. £45,470 to £55,990
Neck Injury Moderate (i) Dislocations and fractures in the neck which could necessitate spinal fusion treatments. £24,990 to £38,490
Neck Injury Moderate (ii) Wrenching-type or soft tissue injuries which could cause cervical spondylosis with limited neck movement. £13,740 to £24,990
Neck Injury Moderate (iii) A neck injury which accelerates a pre-existing condition by less than 5 years. £7,890 to £13,740
Neck Injury Minor (i) Where a full recovery takes place in 1 – 2 years. £4,350 to £7,890
Neck Injury Minor (ii) Where a full recovery takes place with 1 to 2 years. £4,350 to £7,890

For an estimate of what your personal injury claim could be worth, please contact our team.

Whiplash Tariff Amounts

If you suffered injuries in a road traffic accident, your claim might be made in a different way. This is due to the Whiplash Reform Programme. It applies to injuries valued at £5,000 or less suffered by passengers or drivers 18 or older.

Whiplash injuries will be assigned value in accordance with the tariff found in Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. However, you may suffer bruised ribs or another minor injury that are not found in the tariff. These will be assigned value in the traditional way. Additionally, if these other injuries take the total value of your claim over £5,000, you will claim in the traditional way.

Call our advisors if you need any help understanding the Whiplash Reform Programme. In addition, they can value your claim for free. This is important because once your claim is settled, it cannot be reopened.

Whiplash Claims Solicitors – No Win No Fee Claims For Whiplash

It may be beneficial to use legal assistance for whiplash injuries claims. If you get whiplash claims solicitors to represent you, they could potentially offer you a No Win No Fee agreement as a way to fund their work.

In this arrangement, you do not pay upfront fees for the solicitors’ work. You will only pay for the solicitors’ work when compensation is awarded in a successful claim. This payment will also be legally capped.

Contact Legal Expert today for more information on No Win No Fee agreements and claims for whiplash.

Contact Us

If whiplash injuries have impacted you after a road traffic accident or a sports injury, you may be able to make a personal injury claim. Please find out more about how we could help you by contacting our specialist team. You can do so in the following ways.

Contact us today to discuss your claim for chronic whiplash.

Helpful Links

Below you can find some helpful links to related road traffic accident claims and helpful external resources on whiplash injuries.

The NHS Guide To Whiplash – A guide from the NHS.

Whiplash Neck Sprains – A guide from Oxford Universities Hospitals.

Motor Insurers’ Bureau – Making road traffic accident claims when the driver is untraced.

Other personal injury claim guides

Whiplash Injuries FAQs – How long do whiplash injuries last?

Below we answer some of the frequently asked questions about whiplash injury claims.

Why is it called whiplash?

This neck injury is called whiplash due to the violent and sharp snap back and forward to the neck. The range of motion hyperextends and hyperflexes the neck muscles as the neck bounds backwards and forwards.

What are some top tips on proving whiplash claims?

Gathering evidence is one of the most effective ways to prove that your whiplash injuries were caused by negligence. This means you need to be able to back up your claim by proving that your injuries were caused by another road user breaching their duty of care.

Visual evidence such as CCTV footage and photographs are good examples of evidence that could help your claim, as well as medical records that contain vital information regarding your injuries. Witnesses may also be willing to corroborate your story by submitting a written statement to a solicitor. You can gather their contact details to be used at a later stage.

How long does whiplash last?

Many people ask us how long whiplash can last. However, each case is likely to differ. Therefore, the length of time your symptoms persist will also vary as a result. For example, you may have sustained injuries that result in long-term whiplash symptoms.

However, you should seek medical advice from your doctor to find out more about the recovery time.

If your injury is valued at £5,000 or under, you will need to claim through the Whiplash Reform Programme (WRP). However, you may be undervaluing your injury, so get in touch today for a more accurate estimation.

How fast do you have to be travelling for whiplash injuries to happen?

Whiplash injuries do not just happen at high speeds. In fact, many whiplash injuries can happen in low-speed collisions at just 6-12 mph. They could even be triggered by impacts as slow as 5mph.

How long do whiplash claims take?

In general, the more minor an injury is, the quicker the claims process will be. If you recover within a few weeks to months, your claim could be resolved in 6 months. However, more complex injuries could take a year or longer to resolve. But when people ask, “how long do whiplash injuries last?” consider the length of the claims process as well. Speak to us if you have any questions about how to claim.

How important is medical evidence?

Medical evidence is important when making a personal injury claim. It helps to show how you have been injured and how serious these injuries are. It can also help to show your future prognosis and to show if you’re taking the likes of anti-inflammatory medicine. All of this helps solicitors make better-informed decisions it looking at how much compensation you may be owed.

Could you get a whiplash injury in a bus or taxi accident?

You may suffer a whiplash injury in road traffic accidents involving any vehicle you are travelling in.

How many years could a whiplash injury claim take?

Whiplash injury claims could take 6 months to complete, or in complicated and complex cases, they could take 2 years or more to complete.

How much time do you have to make a claim?

In general, you have 3 years in which to make a personal injury claim for whiplash.

What Does The NHS Say About Whiplash?

The NHS define whiplash as a neck injury that is caused by the sudden movement of the neck. It also states that the whiplash recovery time frame is generally 2 to 3 months. However, if have suffered from whiplash, this duration may differ depending on various factors.

If your symptoms have not improved after a few weeks, your GP may refer you to a pain specialist or physiotherapist to help.

We hope our guide on how long do whiplash injuries last has helped you learn more about whiplash and compensation claims.

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    Meet The Team

    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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