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According to a recent report in the Irish Examiner, 7 out of 10 of all personal injury claims assessed by Ireland’s Personal Injuries Assessment board (PIAB) during the first half of 2018 were whiplash-related.
The figures released by the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) also determined that the average PIAB award for a whiplash case was €18,581 (4.4 times higher than those in Britain).
If you have been affected by a whiplash injury as a result of a car accident in Ireland, here is everything you need to know about your injury and how to claim for compensation.
What is whiplash and what are the symptoms?
Whiplash is an injury of the neck sustained from a forceful whipping back and forth of the neck, a common trauma which occurs in car accidents where one car slams into another from behind. The force and sudden movement of the neck back and forth causes damage to the soft tissues.
Common symptoms following a whiplash injury include:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Loss of a range of movement in the neck
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulders, arms or back
- Muscle spasms
- Extreme tiredness
In addition, some people can experience blurred vision, sleep disturbance (recalling the accident), irritability, poor concentration, poor memory and even depression.
It is common for whiplash symptoms to take as long as 24 hours to show themselves. Recovery depends on the severity of the injury and the robustness of the individual. Some whiplash injuries heal within a few weeks or months, others take longer and can be extremely debilitating.
If you have experienced a whiplash injury you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. See more about the diagnosis and treatment of whiplash injuries in Ireland here.
How do I make a whiplash injury claim?
If you have been involved in an accident and have a whiplash injury, and the accident wasn’t your fault, you may be able to claim for compensation. You have up to two years from the date of your accident to make a claim. The process of making a claim can feel daunting, but if you have been injured and it wasn’t your fault you are entitled to compensation. See advice by the PIAB on making a claim here and FAQs here.
Even if your car suffered little or no damage, you may still be able to claim for your injuries, as long as the accident was caused by the negligence of a third party.
So, what is negligence?
In legal terms, negligence is defined as ‘a failure in a duty of care’. In other words, a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in those same circumstances. Examples of negligence include:
- travelling at excessive speed
- failing to look before entering a junction
- using a mobile phone whilst driving
- driving while under the influence of alcohol
As well as seeing your GP, it is advisable to consult with a solicitor as soon after the accident as possible. Claims are subject to the statutes of Ireland’s Personal Injury Law so a professional solicitor who specialises in this type of claim will be able to help you.
How are whiplash injuries diagnosed?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to accurately diagnose a whiplash injury, even with the full range of diagnostic tests available to doctors. This is largely because soft tissue injuries don’t show up on X-rays or MRI scans. Symptoms can also vary wildly depending on the individual and the severity of accident.
How are whiplash injuries proved or disproved?
Due to the difficulty in diagnosing whiplash injuries, it can be extremely difficult to prove or disprove the extent of any trauma. There is increasing concern over the level of personal injury claims (including whiplash) that may be fraudulent. According to one Irish newspaper, the average soft tissue award on claims up to €100,000 in Ireland was €19,862 compared with €3,798 in the UK.
There is increasing pressure on government from the insurance industry to take action.
How much can I claim?
The amount of compensation you can claim for a whiplash injury (or any other personal injury) is set out by the PIAB using the Book of Quantum, which gives general guidelines on the amounts that can be awarded. For neck injuries, these are currently:
- Minor injuries up to €15,700
- Moderate injuries up to €30,200
- Moderately severe injuries up to €52,200
- Severe and permanent injuries up to €77,900
Is there anything I can do to protect myself against a whiplash injury?
The most important thing you can do to prevent a whiplash injury is to ensure you are driving a car with a properly designed seat and head restraint, understand how your seat works to protect you, and have your seat adjusted to the best position for injury prevention. Always adjust your seat and headrest, whether driving or a passenger, and that includes if you are sitting in the rear seat of the vehicle.
The post Everything you need to know about whiplash injuries in Ireland appeared first on MoneyMagpie.