Motor Vehicle Accidents
How to claim for whiplash after a car accident
In a car accident, a person can experience sudden, extreme and vigorous movements they did not expect and that their bodies could not control. So it’s easy to understand why one of the most common injuries in car accidents is whiplash.
Have you (or someone you care for) been affected by whiplash due to a motor vehicle accident? This guide can help you decide if you are eligible to make a whiplash injury compensation claim.
What is a whiplash injury?
Whiplash, commonly the result of a rear-end car collision, is an injury to the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues of the neck caused by abrupt and forceful movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways – such as by the sudden stopping or impact in a car accident. Pain and discomfort can extend from the neck, head and shoulders through to the back, arms and hands. Passengers are usually more likely to be affected than drivers.
Most whiplash sufferers will recover quickly and be able to resume work within a few days or weeks. For others, recovery may take much longer, and their initial injuries may lead to further lasting complications.
What is the whiplash claim process?
To be eligible for compensation, your claim will need to show that the accident – and the injuries, pain and loss you’ve suffered since – happened through no fault of your own and that someone else’s negligence caused you harm.
If you’re in NSW, the claim process will require you to:
- Firstly, obtain a certificate of capacity/fitness from your doctor/GP
- You’ll then need to lodge an Application for personal injury benefits form with the State Insurance Regulatory Authority if you wish to claim for weekly and medical benefits from the CTP insurer of the driver at fault. This needs to be submitted within 28 days of the accident. Note that any lump sum payments you might be entitled to will need to be applied for separately.
The claims process can be frustrating and complex. But collecting evidence to support your claim/s will be crucial in establishing the impact of your injuries and confirming who was responsible.
What evidence do you need for a whiplash claim?
To ensure your claim is as strong as possible, ensure you gather and create the following information:
- Take photographs of the scene and write notes about what happened, either yourself or via a friend or family member.
- Include information such as what the weather was like, how the accident occurred, and the names and details of any witnesses
- Obtain the police records and make sufficient copies
- See a doctor for immediate medical treatment and assessment, and keep documentation recording every stage of both your diagnosis and your various treatments
- Keep records of all your medical and injury-related expenses
- Create a log that details any income loss due to an inability to work due to your injuries.
Typical whiplash settlement amounts?
This all depends on the specifics of each claim, as well as the state or territory in which the matter is heard. In NSW, the average amount of compensation for injuries considered minor, paid by the CTP insurer as weekly personal injury benefits for a maximum of 6 months, currently ranges from $10,000 up to $20,000. This reflects that most people recover from their injuries and return to work sooner than 6 months.
As a general principle, a compensation payout represents a monetary value of the injuries sustained and their impact on a claimant’s quality of life. Factors that could affect the size of the payout include:
- The severity of the injuries
- Which driver was at fault
- The claimant’s age and pre-accident lifestyle
- The amount of time the claimant cannot work
- Lost earnings
- Lost earning capacity in the future
- Cost of treatment, rehabilitation and ongoing support.
If an initial whiplash injury has worsened over time, a claimant may be entitled to an additional compensation payout over and above whiplash personal injury benefits.
When you speak to a compensation expert at LHD, they will be able to assess your unique situation. If you have grounds to make a compensation claim, they will be able to give you an estimate of how much compensation you will be entitled to.
How long after an accident can I make a whiplash injury claim?
As mentioned above, if you wish to claim for weekly and medical benefits from the CTP insurer of the driver at fault, your claim in most states needs to be submitted within 28 days of the accident. In NSW, for example, these weekly payments are limited to no more than 26 weeks.
To also claim for additional benefits and lump-sum payouts, most states accept claims up to 12 months after the accident and sometimes longer (up to 3 years in Vic and Qld). This is because it is understood that whiplash injuries and their severity may not be immediately revealed and may increase over time.
With whiplash injury claims, it’s important to speak to an expert law firm as soon as possible. The injury compensation experts at LHD are ready to guide you through the process, answer all your questions and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
How long does it take to get a whiplash payout?
The at-fault driver’s CTP insurer will advise the claimant within four weeks if they’re accepting or denying their injury claim and will then confirm what weekly compensation they will provide for the maximum 6-month period. Compensation payments should then commence within 14 days.
Claims for lump sum compensation payouts, on the other hand, due to their additional complexity, can take 6-18 months.
Make a whiplash compensation claim today
LHD Lawyers help everyday Australians receive the benefits they are entitled to. If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and would like to seek compensation for whiplash injuries, contact us today.
Our expert team will be able to help you win the compensation and entitlements you deserve to help get your life back on track. We are so sure of our abilities to win your case that we stand firmly by our No Win No Fee Policy: if we don’t win, you don’t pay. Call 1800 455 725 for a no-obligation consultation about your case.