Whiplash Symptoms – Guide To Signs Of Whiplash

Everything You Need To Know About Whiplash Symptoms

By Ruth Lambert. Last Updated 26th February 2021. Welcome to our guide to whiplash symptoms. According to personal injury law in the UK, anyone who suffers whiplash injury in a road accident that was due to no fault of theirs may be entitled to file a claim for whiplash injury compensation. This compensation is meant to cover all expenses associated with the injury including the cost of short and long term treatment, loss of income due to not being able to go to work, cost of structural changes needed to facilitate independence and cost of home care if necessary.

Whiplash Symptoms

Whiplash Symptoms

If you were recently involved in any kind of road accident and you are experiencing the symptoms of a whiplash injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Before you can do that you need to know what is whiplash injury, what causes it and what are the symptoms.

This guide will tell you what you need to know, and in particular, it will answer the following questions:

  • What does whiplash feel like?
  • How is whiplash treated?
  • How long does it take to recover from whiplash?
  • What happens if you leave whiplash untreated?

If at any point you have any questions or would like to learn more about whiplash symptoms, our personal injury claims team is on hand to take your call. Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, you can reach them by:

What is whiplash injury and what causes it?

Injury to the soft tissues in the neck is known as a whiplash injury. The tendons and ligaments in the neck have a fixed range within which they can move normally without any strain. When these tendons and ligaments get forcefully and suddenly extended beyond their normal limit, they get injured. This is known as a whiplash injury.

In a car accident, with the impact, the driver’s head tends to get thrown forward and then backward with great force, resulting in injury to the soft tissue of the neck or whiplash injury. While whiplash injuries tend to be more severe when the driver was travelling at great speed, they can also occur in low-speed collisions depending on the direction of the impact and the position of the driver’s head and neck when the impact happened.

In its mildest form, a whiplash injury can result in pain and minor restriction in movement. However, in its more severe form, the symptoms can result in excruciating pain and severe movement limitations that can last several months. In some cases, whiplash injury symptoms can be permanent.

The time that it takes for the symptoms to manifest can also vary widely. In some cases the symptoms are evident right away, making a diagnosis easy. However, it is not uncommon for whiplash symptoms to manifest two or more days after the accident. In order to claim compensation for your whiplash injury, it is important to be able to prove the association between the symptoms and the accident. Many people fail to do this and unfortunately, they also forfeit any compensation that they may have been entitled to.

The symptoms of whiplash range from minor to very severe and from common to very rare. The wide range of symptoms and their severity can make an accurate self-diagnosis very difficult. Moreover, in attempting to self-diagnose it is easy to overlook a rare symptom and make a wrong diagnosis.

After any car accident, whether minor or major, it is crucial to make an appointment with your GP and get an accurate diagnosis. A qualified medical professional will use a variety of diagnostic methods to arrive at a correct conclusion. This is important, both for medical as well as legal purposes. Getting an accurate diagnosis will help you get the right treatment for your injuries. It will also make it easier for you to win your compensation claim in court.

Common and uncommon whiplash symptoms

If you’re wondering what does whiplash feel like, this section will give you an insight into the more common symptoms of a whiplash injury, such as:

  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Sore neck muscles
  • Limited motion of the neck and head
  • Sore muscles in the upper back area – shoulders, upper arms and upper back
  • Headaches

If you have a whiplash injury, in addition to some of the common symptoms above, you may also experience some of the following:

  • Tingling sensation or pain in the arms and hands
  • Lower back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feeling irritable

It is important to remember that most of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, which means that the presence of any of the above symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have a whiplash injury. Getting medical advice from a qualified professional is important in order to get an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for whiplash injury

If you’re wondering how is whiplash treated, this section will tell you what you need to know.

Painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets are usually sufficient to treat milder whiplash symptoms.  Gentle neck exercises are usually also recommended in order to ensure that the area stays flexible does not get stiffer.

The treatment can be a little more complicated in more serious cases. In addition to pain meds, ongoing physiotherapy is often required to manage the main and increase flexibility.

Can whiplash be prevented?

Whiplash symptoms cannot be prevented entirely. As with any other injury, when a certain set of factors come together, it results in an injury. These things cannot be avoided completely but there are things that can be done to reduce the likelihood.

Safer roads, cars that are better designed and more careful drivers are three top factors that can reduce whiplash injuries drastically. That is a long time coming, however. In the meantime, the best that you can do to stay safe is to drive carefully and position your headrest properly so that it provides maximum head and neck support in case of an accident.

How much can you claim for?

The Judicial College Guidelines is a regularly updated publication that solicitors may use to value claims. It provides guidelines on the range of compensation applicable to the different types of whiplash injury and the severity of the injury.

Minor neck injuries may attract an award of up to £7,410.

Moderate neck injuries may attract an award of up to £36,120.

Severe neck injuries may attract an award of up to £122,860.

The exact amount you will be awarded will depend on the type of symptoms you are experiencing and the severity of the symptoms. Your medical expenses, cost of travel to and from the hospital and loss of earnings will all be taken into consideration along with your mental and emotional anguish when calculating the total recompense. As a guide to the amount of compensation you will receive, you can visit our whiplash claims calculator page.

How to claim for your whiplash injuries

Whiplash compensation claims are filed under Personal Injury Law. The claims process used to be pretty straightforward. Anyone who suffered whiplash symptoms after being involved in a car crash that was not their fault could file a claim for compensation.

Whiplash symptoms from car crash

Whiplash symptoms from a car crash

However, the recent increase in Cash-for-Crash scams has made it a little more difficult to get the award due to you. To win the claim, you have to prove that the accident was genuine and not staged solely to win compensation. You also have to prove that the whiplash injury was caused due to the accident. Moreover, you must make sure that you file your claim in court within three years of the date of the accident.

The best way to ensure that you have a strong case and that you file the claim before the time limit is to hire a reputed personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers are fully conversant with this area of the law and can put together a strong case that will increase your chances of getting the maximum award that is due to you. What’s more, if you have a strong case, most personal injury lawyers will agree to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis.

A No Win No Fee means the lawyer will put together the case and file it in court without charging you any upfront fees. They take a fee only if they win the case for you. Usually, this fee is a negligible percentage of the total sum that the court awards you by way of compensation. Under these conditions, it makes far more sense to hire a personal injury lawyer to file the claim on your behalf while you focus on healing from your injuries.

Extra Reading on Whiplash Symptoms and Claims

Whiplash: NHS guidance on symptoms of whiplash and what to do if you have them. 

Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2019 Annual Report: 51% of respondents who had a road traffic accident between 2017-19, claimed to have experienced whiplash as a consequence. Read more on RTA statistics. 

Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (Whiplash) Claims Process: The Government’s making changes to whiplash claims. Read about it or speak to our advisors for free legal advice.  

Can I Claim Compensation if I Was Hit by an Uninsured Driver?: Was your whiplash injury caused by an uninsured driver? Read our guide, if so.

A Guide to Whiplash Symptoms Delayed

Whiplash Symptoms FAQ

How is whiplash treated?

The NHS recommends treatment through ice packs, gentle exercise, painkillers, and potentially physiotherapy or osteopathy. Speak with your doctor to identify what treatment you need.   

How much compensation do you get for whiplash?

The compensation you get for whiplash depends on how much you physically suffered, whether your mental health was also affected and how the injury impacted your finances. 

Can a whiplash claim be refused?

A whiplash claim could be refused if the injuries weren’t caused by another party’s negligence. Our advisors can clarify for you if you’d like free legal advice. 

How long does it take to heal from whiplash?

According to the NHS, whiplash can heal after a few days if you have minor whiplash symptoms. 

What is whiplash symptoms?

Whiplash symptoms are the physical effects you may experience following the likes of a road traffic accident. The types of symptoms you may initially endure include pain, tenderness, swelling and perhaps bruising.

What does whiplash feel like?

For those who have never experienced whiplash, it can feel like a muscle strain to the neck. Like with other muscle strains or tears, you may notice pain when moving, stiffness, general tenderness to the touch and in more serious cases there could be bruising.


Thank you for reading our guide to whiplash symptoms.

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