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Is There A Whiplash Claim When There’s Not A Mark On The Claimant’s Car?

Driver and passenger bracing for a collision
25th September 2013

The normal challenges which can beset genuine whiplash compensation claimants have been overshadowed in recent years by much insurance industry and media generated hype about criminal gangs distorting claim figures. However, in response to rising concern, a six month Transport Consultation Committee process concluded with the publication of their July 2013 Report which remarked that “There is no generally accepted objective test for a whiplash injury.” 

The symptoms of whiplash injury are not necessarily clearly defined by understood clinical criteria and vehicle occupants may not even realise they have been injured. More than 8 in ten of those involved in a vehicle collision, “displayed no symptoms of their injury within three months of the car accident” taking place, according to previous research by the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT).

No contact at all between vehicles

It is commonly and mistakenly assumed that whiplash injury can only be the result of a high speed crash severe enough to cause the types of injuries associated with whiplash claims. If a vehicle does not show any signs of damage, it is deemed highly unlikely that any serious injury, let alone whiplash, could have occurred. But not only do whiplash claims originate from actual car collisions which have taken place on roads where the speed limit was under 20 mph, in many cases there is no contact at all between vehicles and no vehicle damage because of preventative action taken. 

In reality, the human neck is fragile enough to sustain serious injury from the most minor of interruptive forces. Previous studies of small control groups subject to low-speed rear-end vehicle collisions found that even when a degree of pre-impact expectancy is factored in, nearly 3 in 10 of participants at 2 mph and early 4 in 10 at 5 mph experienced whiplash associated disorder (WAD) symptoms.

Impact at low speed

Damaging front, back or sideways movement is not necessarily caused by an excessive front / rear end collision or side impact. Even at low speeds, the force received from a back end or side impact collision can still be violent enough to cause the head of a driver or passenger to be involuntarily jerked forwards, backwards or sideways in their seat. Sudden braking or swerving are other instances of where a slight but unexpected movement can have an adverse effect. 

Consequently, not only will whiplash symptoms not be immediately apparent, there will be no tell tale conclusive evidence on the vehicle body itself.