Whiplash Compensation Claims

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If you find yourself suffering from whiplash due to an unfortunate accident on the road, at work, or in a public place in Queensland, you have the right to seek compensation.

On this page, we'll explain what your rights to claim compensation are, common causes and types of whiplash injuries, how to make a whiplash injury claim, time limits for claiming, and some frequently asked questions.

Smith's Lawyers team of personal injury claim experts offers free initial advice and no-obligation appointments at home, in the hospital, in-office, or via phone. All claims have no upfront costs or risks of being left out of pocket under our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise. We operate Queensland-wide.

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Understanding Your Rights After a Whiplash Injury in Queensland

It's hard enough recovering from an injury without thinking about how you're going to pursue a claim. There are several different ways in which you might be able to claim whiplash injury compensation for whiplash in Queensland. 

These include: 

  • Car and Road Accidents: If you were driving or just in the car as a passenger,  you could claim whiplash injury compensation under the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claims scheme. This would be for people who suffered an injury due to the negligence of another road user.
  • Work Accidents: If you were injured at work, you could file for a statutory claim via WorkCover Queensland (or your employer’s private insurance if applicable), regardless of who was at fault. For instance, if you're a delivery driver who suffered whiplash while out on route. 
  • Public place accidents: If you have suffered personal injuries in a public place, you can make a common law claim against the public liability insurer of the premises.
  • It's important to understand what options are available to you, as making a whiplash injury compensation claim doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to court. Speaking to a solicitor can help you understand the process.
What Is a Whiplash Injury?

Whiplash is a non-medical term often used to describe a range of injuries to the neck and spine caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck.

It's associated with the abrupt backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head, often the result of being in a road accident.

Common Causes of Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash injuries are most commonly associated with road accidents, particularly rear-end collisions, when the sudden jolt from being hit causes the body to lurch forward before being pulled back by the seatbelt.

According to MAIC's annual CTP report 2020-21, 79 per cent of insurance claimants experienced spinal injuries (including whiplash) in the three years to 2021. They can also crop up in other day-to-day places you might not suspect. 

For instance:

  • Workplace Injuries: People may suffer from whiplash if they have fallen or experienced a heavy impact at work, particularly when doing construction or factory work where heavy equipment is used.
  • Public Place Accidents: Slips on a wet floor or tripping over a misplaced item could also cause whiplash injuries.
  • Sports Accident: From surfing and skiing to rugby and AFL, a lot of activities carry with them significant risks of your head and spine being suddenly snapped backwards, resulting in a whiplash injury.

Regardless of the cause or location of your accident, it's crucial to know your rights to make a whiplash injury compensation claim.

In Queensland, the law allows individuals harmed as a result of someone else's negligence to seek compensation, including for accidents that result in whiplash. Smith's Lawyers are experts in injury law and can help you through the process.

Common Types of Whiplash Injuries

It's fairly common for the victim of a car accident to talk about whiplash symptoms in the days following the event.

If you've been involved in a collision or some other incident that resulted in injury, you must listen to your body. If you think something is off, seek medical attention right away.

Common symptoms of whiplash include: 

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck: You may experience a sharp ache, a dull throbbing or muscle strains. This can make even the smallest movements feel painful and can be constant or come and go.
  • Reduced movements: Turning your head, tilting it back or looking over your shoulder could be significantly limited.
  • Headaches: Tension headaches, migraines, or cervicogenic headaches are common after whiplash and can be triggered by neck movement or stress.
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulders and upper back: Muscle tension and tenderness in your shoulders and upper back, often radiating from the neck, are common.
  • Dizziness and imbalance: Whiplash can affect your inner ear, leading to dizziness, vertigo, or a feeling of imbalance, making activities like walking or driving difficult.
  • Numbness or pins and needles in the arms or hands: Nerve damage due to whiplash can cause numbness or tingling sensations in your arms and hands, potentially impacting grip strength and fine motor skills.
  • Blurred vision‍: Temporary blurred vision due to eye strain or focusing problems is a possible symptom of whiplash, although typically not lasting long.

Not all symptoms may be experienced, and the intensity can vary greatly from person to person.

Some may experience only mild discomfort, while others could find it causing serious disruption to their daily routines and quality of life.

Workers Most At Risk of a Whiplash Injury

In Queensland, specific professions and industries bear a higher risk of workplace whiplash injuries due to their nature of work. 

These include: 

  • Construction Workers: They often engage in physically demanding work that involves heavy lifting and working at heights. The risk of accidents leading to whiplash injuries is considerably high in this line of work.
  • Transportation and Delivery Staff: Individuals working in these sectors are constantly on the road and at greater risk of car accidents. The extended periods of driving increase their vulnerability to traffic accidents, hence making them more susceptible to whiplash injuries.
  • Warehouse Workers: Their duties often involve lifting heavy items and working with machinery, which could lead to incidents resulting in whiplash.
  • Healthcare Professionals: The physical demands of patient care can strain their neck and back, potentially leading to whiplash and other similar injuries.
  • Office Workers: Despite seemingly safe surroundings, prolonged sitting and poor ergonomics can cause neck strain, heightening the risk for whiplash injuries.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury in any of these high-risk professions, it's advisable you seek medical treatment immediately and then legal advice as soon as possible.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Understanding the Compensation Claims Process

Before starting the whiplash injury claims process, it's critical to seek advice from a medical professional first. They can diagnose and document your injury.

The claims process can be complex, so we've broken down the general steps involved when seeking compensation for an injury caused by someone else's negligence in Queensland. 

Below is an outline of the steps involved: 

1. Seek Free Initial Legal Advice

The first step is to get in touch with a law firm that specialises in compensation claims for injuries. Such a firm will have the necessary expertise and understanding of the complexities of Queensland law and can confirm your legal options, including eligibility to make a claim.

2. Engage A Personal Injury Lawyer

After an initial phone assessment, the next stage is a no-obligation consultation to explain the process and client agreement in more detail and to gather initial key information relating to your accident and injury to help assess your case and your injury and identify the liable party. The client agreement will also be explained so you can understand the terms under which the personal injury law operates. Smith’s Lawyers runs all claims risk-free with no upfront costs.

3. Gather Evidence To Build Your Case

Once your compensation matter is opened, you will be allocated a personal injury lawyer who will start gathering the required evidence to build a strong case and to determine liability. This may include medical reports, accident reports, witness statements, CCTV or dashcam footage or documentation of any loss of earnings due to your injury. Further down the track, when your injuries have settled, your law firm may arrange for independent medical assessments such as occupational therapy assessment to assess your ability to work, long-term recovery prospects and so on.

4. File Your Claim

Your personal injury solicitor will lodge a notice of claim and negotiate on your behalf with the liable parties, typically with their insurance companies (or their legal representatives), such as the CTP insurer of the at-fault party for car and road accidents or WorkCover Qld for workplace accidents. 

5. Negotiate With The At-Fault Party's Insurer

Negotiations with the insurance company aim to reach a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Most cases are settled out of court in a compulsory conference, an office-based meeting involving yourself, your personal injury solicitor and a barrister they have engaged in leading the negotiations along with the legal representatives of the at-fault party's insurer. 

In the unlikely event that a settlement cannot be negotiated out of court, proceedings can proceed to court. In most ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case is unsuccessful in court. Smith’s Lawyers No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise protects you from this risk and means you can not be out of pocket.

6. Settlement Payment

If your claim is successful, you will receive a lump-sum tax-free compensation settlement. The amount received will depend on different factors, including the severity of your injury, any impact on your earning capacity, and any medical expenses incurred. Legal fees are charged for the work completed only if there is a successful outcome.

Seek expert advice ASAP: Remember, each case is unique, and the process can vary based on the specifics. It's suggested to seek professional legal advice and have your case reviewed by an expert team to guide you in this journey. Smith's Lawyers are experts in personal injury claims and offer a Queensland-wide service with free initial advice to get you started in your claim process.

What Evidence Do I Need To Support My Whiplash Injury Claim?

When lodging a whiplash injury claim in Queensland, it's crucial to understand the type of evidence needed to build a robust case.

Here are important pieces of evidence you will need: 

  • Medical Reports: Medical documentation from your general practitioner or specialist detailing your whiplash injury, the treatment provided, and the prognosis.
  • Witness Testimonies: If there were any witnesses to your accident, their written statements can be incredibly impactful in supporting your claim.
  • Proof of Accident: This could be in the form of photographs or video footage of the accident location, documentation of the accident by any authority or CCTV footage.
  • Details of Expense: You should collect and keep any receipts or invoices for medical treatment, medications, physiotherapy, and any other expenses related to your injury.
  • Proof of Lost Earnings: If your injury has resulted in lost income, you should provide pay slips, tax returns, and a letter from your employer confirming any time off work due to the injury.

Precise compilation of evidence can significantly streamline your claim process, reducing the chances of delay while ensuring your legal rights are protected.

Calculating Your Compensation Amount

How much compensation you're entitled to for a whiplash injury is calculated using a range of factors to reflect the specific impact on the individual's life.

These may include: 

  • Nature and severity of the injury:  Consideration is given to the severity and longevity of your whiplash injury. This includes pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent impairment, likely future medical needs, and so on.
  • Loss of income:  If your injury has impacted your ability to work, either temporarily or permanently, you may be compensated for this loss of income. This is often quite substantial.
  • Medical and related expenses:  All necessary and reasonable medical expenses related to your injury can be claimed. This includes not only past expenses but also future expected costs.
  • Care and assistance:  If you require help around the house due to your injury, you may be eligible for assistance expenses. This can include professional home care and assistance from family members.

Keep in mind that two people with the same whiplash injury may receive different compensation amounts because their personal circumstances differ. Let's take the example of two individuals: a 25-year-old professional cyclist and a 65-year-old retiree. Both have sustained a similar whiplash injury from a car accident.

The younger individual's compensation could potentially be much higher because the impact on their ability to earn a living is substantial, while the retiree may have different factors affecting their claim, such as their need for more prolonged medical care. So, while they both suffer from the same type of injury, their specific circumstances lead to different compensation amounts. 

Each case is unique, and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible from a law firm like Smith's Lawyers, who are experts in injury law and provide a No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise.

Time Limits To Make A Claim For Whiplash

Rules around how long you have to claim compensation are made at a state level in Queensland. 

The general rule is that a claim must be submitted within three years of the date when the injury occurred. 

However, the state also has some rules for specific circumstances. 

For work-related injuries in Queensland:

  • You have six months to lodge your claim with WorkCover. The six-month period begins whenever the incident takes place, either when you are injured or after a doctor has made their assessment. 
  • You have three years to commence legal proceedings for a common law claim. If your employer or a third party caused or contributed to your injury, this can be run alongside a standard WorkCover claim.

For motor vehicle-related injuries in Queensland:

  • You have 9 months from the date of the accident or when injuries first became apparent to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim Form (known as a 'NOAC') with the Compulsory Third Party Insurer (CTP Insurer). A “reasonable excuse for delay” can be provided outside the 9 months but must be within 3 years of the accident, or you will be barred from making a claim. 
  • Or, you have 1 month from when you first consult with a lawyer about the possibility of making a claim to lodge the form. When running a claim with Smith’s Lawyers, your appointed solicitor will help you complete and submit this form.  Note: This time limit is the earlier of the two (1 month vs 9 months), so if you have spoken to a lawyer about your potential claim, you must lodge the NOAC within 1 month.
  • Where the motor vehicle at fault cannot be identified (such as in a hit and run), or the vehicle was unregistered, you have 3 months from the date of the accident to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim form with the Nominal Defendant. For these claims, if you have missed the 3-month period, a reasonable excuse can be provided, but it must be provided within the standard 9-month limit; otherwise, you will be barred from making a claim.
  • After the Notice of Claim Form is lodged, you have 3 years from the date of the accident/injury to start legal proceedings.

These limits can fluctuate based on specific circumstances, such as exceptional delays in discovering the injury or if the injured party was under 18 at the time of the accident. For those under 18, the time limit begins when they reach adulthood.

At Smith's Lawyers, we offer free and no-obligation case reviews to aid you in understanding your legal rights after an injury. Operating on a No Win, No Fee, No Catch® basis, we aim to provide risk-free legal assistance and advocate for your right to proper compensation.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I know if I have whiplash serious enough to make a claim?

While neck pain and stiffness are common after minor accidents, if your symptoms are severe, persistent or worsen over time (beyond a few weeks), you may have a valid claim. Seek medical advice to document your injury and discuss your situation with a lawyer.

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What happens if the other party denies liability?

If the other party denies liability, your solicitor will advocate for your rights and negotiate with the other party's insurer. If a settlement can't be reached, they can represent you in court.

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I have already lodged a claim, but I'm unhappy with the process. Can I switch lawyers?

Yes, you can switch compensation lawyers at any stage of your claim. It's essential to feel comfortable and confident with your legal representation. At Smith’s Lawyers, we offer Queensland-wide service and no upfront costs, aiming to streamline the process and ease any related stress.

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What documentation will I need to start my claim?

This may vary on a case-by-case basis. However, generally, you would need your medical reports, incident report, any CCTV footage (if available), witness statements and insurance details. As part of our service, Smith’s Lawyers can guide you through the necessary documents required.

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Are there any upfront costs or risks?

No; our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise at Smith’s Lawyers means there are no upfront costs, and you can never be left out of pocket as a result of the claim. Typically with ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could still be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case goes to court and is unsuccessful. In the unlikely event that your case goes to court and you are unsuccessful, we'll cover the costs - so you won't pay a cent to us or anyone else.

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Get expert advice today

Take our 2-minute free claim check

Fill in the form below to find out if you have a claim.

Last updated:
March 11, 2024

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.