One of the most common questions personal injury solicitors are asked is “What is the typical payout for whiplash?” This is despite there often being the misconception that there is a fixed amount of compensation for whiplash injuries in Ireland.
The article below explains in detail why there is no typical payout for whiplash and how compensation for whiplash in Ireland is calculated. However, it is always in your best interests to consult a solicitor if you have sustained a whiplash injury in an accident which was not your fault.
Why You Should Consult a Solicitor
While we strive to ensure all the articles on this site are factually accurate you should never solely rely on the information supplied here. Every accident and injury case is different and, while reading one of our articles can provide you with general information, you should always get expert advice and consult a solicitor before taking any action that may have legal consequences. For example, a solicitor can help you fill out an Injuries Board application for assessment to ensure every consequence of your injury is included.
A “Typical” Payout for Whiplash Does Not Exist
Despite what you may find quoted in various sources, a typical payout for whiplash does not exist. Even the most commonly referred to source for whiplash injury compensation settlements – the Book of Quantum – states that the figures published within it are only a guide and there are many different factors that can contribute towards how much compensation for a whiplash injury you may be entitled to.
Most sources that provide suggestions as to what is the typical payout for whiplash concentrate solely on the physical injury you have sustained, and break down whiplash injury compensation settlements into five “grades” (also known as the “Quebec Task Force” scale). However, it is also possible to include in a claim for compensation for whiplash injuries in Ireland factors such as the deterioration in your quality of life and the economic cost of your injury. Even within these parameters, there can be widely varying compensation payouts for whiplash depending on factors such as your sex, your age and your previous level of health.
Why Your Sex & Age Affect Whiplash Awards
Women and children “typically” receive higher payouts of whiplash compensation because they tend to have weaker neck muscles and soft tissues surrounding the cervical spine – damage to which results in more substantial injuries than men would suffer, which may also take longer to heal.
It is also noticeable that when a mixed-sex couple are travelling together in a car, it is usually the male partner who is driving (almost 80 percent according to the NHTS survey “Driving Miss Daisy”). The significance of this is that the driver of a vehicle about to be hit in a rear-end collision usually has a split-second to brace themselves against impact and reduce the level of injury they sustain – a split second that passengers in a car would not have.
It has also been suggested in a study conducted by the UMEA University in Sweden that “female drivers and passengers have a threefold increased risk for medically impairing neck injury in rear-end impacts compared with males” due to the physical design of car seats. However, irrespective of how your injury was sustained, whiplash is a real condition which can progress into a long-term health issue if not treated in good time by a medical practitioner.
Deterioration in Your Quality of Life
What several sources of “typical” payouts for whiplash also tend to overlook is that it is possible to claim whiplash injury compensation for any verifiable deterioration in your quality of life. This element can have a significant impact on how much compensation a whiplash injury claim is settled for, depending on the difference between a plaintiff´s lifestyle before and after the crash in which they were injured.
For example, if – before your accident – you regularly enjoyed active pastimes and leisure pursuits which you are no longer able to (hopefully temporarily) while you are recovering from your injury, you are likely to receive more compensation for a whiplash injury than a 40-a-day smoker whose sole activity during the day is reaching for the television remote control.
We would advise that you maintain a diary while you are recovering from your injury, so that you can record the times you are unable to participate in a leisure pursuit or social event due to wearing a neck brace or recovering from your accident. The diary would then be used by your solicitor to help calculate how much whiplash injury compensation you might be entitled to for the deterioration in your quality of life.
Other Factors in Whiplash Compensation Payouts
Other factors that influence whiplash compensation payouts include the financial costs of your accident – how much damage was done to your car, what medical expenses have you incurred, how much time have you missed from work, etc.
One of the reasons there is no typical payout for whiplash is that two people may have suffered very similar whiplash injuries, which caused both of them to be away from work for a month, but one earns twice as much as the other. In this instance, the recovery of lost income may make a significant difference to the final compensation settlement.
There are also factors which can reduce the value of whiplash compensation payouts if you have either contributed to the cause of your accident (for example if the brake lights on your car were not working) or the extent of your injury – if you failed to seek immediate medical attention or exacerbated your injury by your own lack of care.
Compensation Claims for Passengers with Whiplash
Compensation claims for passengers with whiplash can sometimes be complicated by the fact that the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was travelling was responsible for causing the accident in which the whiplash injury was sustained. In these cases, it could be possible that a wife is claiming compensation for a whiplash injury against her husband, or a child against their parent.
It is important to remember that it is the driver´s insurance company against whom the claim for whiplash compensation is made and not the driver themselves. If the driver is not insured – or has left the scene of the accident without exchanging their insurance details – claims for whiplash compensation in Ireland are made against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
Claiming Compensation for Children with Whiplash Injuries
If your child has been injured in a rear-end car accident, he or she is not legally allowed to take legal action until they are eighteen years of age. As a delay in claiming compensation for children with whiplash injuries may complicate the resolution of the claim, a responsible adult makes the claim on the child´s behalf – provided they were not the negligent party responsible for causing the accident in which the child was injured.
Typical payouts of whiplash compensation for children follow the same guidelines as mentioned above. The only difference is, when a settlement of compensation for children with whiplash injuries is agreed, the settlement has to be approved by a judge to ensure it is in the child´s best interests. The payout of whiplash compensation is then kept by the court in an interest-bearing account until the child reaches the age of eighteen.
Insurance Company Payouts for Whiplash in Ireland
In Ireland, it is often the case that victims of rear-end accidents are approached by the negligent drivers´ insurers with offers of insurance company payouts for whiplash. These offers are usually designed to save the insurance companies money and often made before the full consequences of your injury are known or the Injuries Board has had the opportunity to conduct an assessment of your claim.
If you are approached by an insurance company, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. A solicitor can provide guidance as to what you need to do now and over the coming months to ensure you are able to claim a fair and adequate settlement when the full extent of your injury is known and its consequences are quantified. Failure to do so will potentially lead to you receiving a smaller payout for your whiplash injury than you may be entitled to.