If you’ve been involved in a motor accident then unfortunately there may be situations where more than your car is damaged, Whiplash is a common injury for moderate to serious car accidents but it can also occur with lighter impacts. Read on to see what your insurance says about whiplash injuries and what you can realistically claim for. Northern Ireland typically has a relatively higher incidence of whiplash so being informed on what to do and how to go about managing your claim is important.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is essentially an injury affecting the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of your neck. This injury is caused by your head suddenly being thrown forward and backwards quickly as a result of some sort of impact. Your head essentially makes the motion of a whip. This can be dangerous as the human body is not meant to handle such intense movements, resulting in neck pains, neck stiffness and even tingling in the arms and hands. It is important to seek treatment or physiotherapy as soon as possible post-incident. Symptoms can last for up to 3 months depending on the extent of the injury however more serious cases may last longer and require extensive treatment.
Does insurance cover whiplash?
In short yes, insurance can cover whiplash but it depends on the type of insurance and the conditions of the provider. If you are involved in an at-fault accident then your coverage will typically cover any whiplash injuries you inflict on other drivers and the associated treatment. You typically won’t be covered for whiplash to yourself if you are at fault in the accident but you should still check this with your insurer directly.
What will I need to make a whiplash claim?
In order to proceed with a whiplash claim you’ll need the basics for insurers to initiate your claim such as…
Following the accident you must contact your insurer ASAP and also visit your GP for any whiplash symptoms. Be sure to retain any medical notes and reports about your injuries to support your claim. You’ll typically have 3 years from the date of the accident to make a whiplash claim. You also do not need to have been the driver of the vehicle at the time of an accident. If you were a passenger you can also make a claim for whiplash symptoms.
What will happen after the claim is made?
The insurance provider representing the party at fault in the accident may propose an extrajudicial resolution that you have the option to either accept or decline. This essentially just means an out-of-court settlement that you are free to accept or reject.
In the event that your accident implicates an uninsured driver, the situation can become more complex, However, you may still have the opportunity to pursue compensation through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). They are able to deal with claims that involve uninsured drivers.
In Northern Ireland there are legal firms that may extend offers to assist you in either negotiating your claim or taking your case to court. Your local solicitor can be found through a simple Google search and quickly discussing your case with them will give you an idea of the service they can potentially offer you.
Typically, these firms operate under a “no-win, no-fee” arrangement, which implies that their fees will be deducted from any settlement you receive. However, it is crucial to invest time in researching any firm before committing. Always ensure you are fully informed about the associated fees and the timing of their collection.
Additionally, it is advisable to compare these expenses with the potential costs of handling your claim independently and pursuing legal action. Generally, the latter option tends to be more cost-effective, although it may demand a greater degree of effort on your part.
Can whiplash claims get rejected?
In short, yes. If you do not have sufficient medical evidence for your claim or the insurer has reason to believe your claim was staged or not genuine, then they can either ask for further information or simply reject your claim. Since new legislation in 2021, insurers have taken a tougher approach to whiplash claims following abuse of the claims system.
Why can’t I make a whiplash claim if I’m at fault?
If you have personal accident cover then you may be able to claim the costs of your whiplash symptoms through this if you are at fault. Otherwise you will not be able to make a claim.
How long do whiplash claims take?
There really is no time limit for when whiplash claims are settled. If your claim is simple and the outcome is beyond dispute, then such a claim can happen relatively quickly. If your claim is more complicated then it may take longer to settle.
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