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How long does whiplash last?

A common question is ‘how long does whiplash last'? Whiplash recovery times can vary from person to person - everyone is different, and the injury sustained can vary depending on the accident itself,  but NHS guidance states that sufferers will usually get better within 2 to 3 months.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head jerking forwards, backwards or sideways.

When you first experience whiplash injury, whether you were driving or a passenger in a vehicle, you might find that your injuries are both painful and limiting to your range of movement.

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head jerking forwards, backwards or sideways. When you first experience whiplash injury, whether you were driving or a passenger in a vehicle, you might find that your injuries are both painful and limiting to your range of movement.

Small claims personal injury and whiplash law changes

The rules for making a small personal injury claim following a road traffic accident changed on 31st May 2021. The government introduced a tariff for whiplash claims linking compensation awards to the duration of the injury. They are designed to reduce the number and cost of exaggerated or fraudulent claims plus reduce motor insurance premiums for drivers. The changes mean:

  • The small claims general damages limit will rise for road traffic accident injuries from £1,000 to £5,000.
  • Compensation for soft tissue and whiplash injury claims is now fixed, banded by severity, and lower than before.
  • People can no longer recover their legal costs from the other side in a small claim. These will now be deducted from compensation awards up to £5,000.'
  • Some other minor road traffic accident injuries - like simple fractures - are now classed as a small claim.
  • People now have the option to make a small road traffic accident claim themselves online, without needing help from a solicitor.

The changes do not affect vulnerable road users (like pedestrians or cyclists) and do not apply to other types of personal injury claim like accidents at work, accidents in public or medical negligence cases.

Typical signs of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Tenderness of neck muscles
  • Reduced and painful neck movements
  • Increased headache and migraines

Whiplash recovery might involve taking time away from work, struggling with child care or missing out on your favourite hobbies. This is why it's important to take immediate action and seek advice on whiplash treatmentfrom a medical professional.

Your GP will be able to help advise you on the path to your recovery, while a physiotherapist will be able to recommend whiplash exercises to improve and ease your symptoms.

The specific treatment and rehabilitation required will depend on the type of whiplash you have: 

  • acute (lasting less than six months) or 
  • chronic (lasting six months or more). 

Your doctor can advise you best.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy recommends keeping your neck mobile and continuing with your day-to-day activities while in recovery from your whiplash injury

It also recommends seeking pain relief in the early stages of your whiplash recovery through painkillers, and keeping your stress levels in check, as they can play a role in your recovery.

We understand how difficult it can be to go about day to day tasks when you're suffering from whiplash. The following tips may help in easing the symptoms of whiplash:

  • Rest your neck as much as possible for a few days after the accident and avoid any sudden movements. When resting, avoid sleeping with more than one pillow to avoid any further strain of the muscles.
  • Consult your doctor about taking any over the counter painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen to help ease the pain and reduce inflammation.

Tips on recovering from whiplash provided by the London Home Visit Physiotherapy (LHVP) team.

Will I require physio for whiplash?

If pain or immobility as a result of whiplash persists for more than a couple of weeks, you can ask your doctor to refer you to a physiotherapist, or refer yourself to a physio.

Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you on things you can do to boost your whiplash recovery, such as massages, neck manipulations or gentle exercises to prevent your neck from stiffening up.

Remember that the cost of any physio sessions you require as part of your recovery will be taken into account as part of making a whiplash claim.

The NHS Live Well website advises that you can strengthen your back and neck muscles by doing yoga, pilates or any other controlled exercises that stretch your muscles and help improve your posture. 

These lifestyle changes can strengthen your back and neck, which can improve your whiplash recovery and help you avoid whiplash injuries in the future.


Amelia experienced whiplash after she was involved in a car accident while sitting in the passenger seat.

"We came to a mini roundabout and a car came into us. I didn't realise I'd injured myself at the time; it wasn't until 48 hours later when the injuries started to show."


More customer stories

If you're suffering with pain from a whiplash injury, it may not be as easy to sleep at night as usual. You might find it more comfortable to use a pillow to support your neck while laying in bed. Changing your sleeping position to your side or back may also be more comfortable for you.

How long should I be off work for whiplash?

Whiplash recovery can vary from person to person, as everyone is different. Some people might require whiplash treatment, while for others, their whiplash symptoms may subside without needing to seek medical advice.

Whiplash pain can be severe enough that you are unable to go about your daily life as normal, which can include being unable to work for days, weeks, or even months. If you are unable to work because of your whiplash symptoms, we can help you to make a whiplash claim to recoup your lost earnings.

Can whiplash make you dizzy?

Yes, dizziness is one of the whiplash symptoms you may experience following an accident. 

Can you get migraine or headache after whiplash?

Other common whiplash symptoms may include headaches or migraines. It can take a few hours following your accident for the signs of whiplash to start to appear.

Could I get tinnitus from whiplash?

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears and is a whiplash symptom which some people experience.

How long does a whiplash claim take?

If you have suffered a whiplash injury in an accident which wasn't your fault, we can help. All whiplash cases are different, so it is hard to estimate how long your claim may take to be settled.

In all personal injury claims, there are several factors which can have an impact on the length of a claim:

  • The severity of your injury
  • The type of accident you were involved in
  • Whether the other side accepts responsibility

Find out what factors can influence the length of a claim, and what you can do to help keep your claim moving along.

How long does it take to make a compensation claim?

Find out what factors can influence the length of a claim, and what you can do to help keep your claim moving along.

What is an average whiplash compensation payout?

The amount of compensation paid in whiplash injury cases can vary, so it is difficult to give an average amount. The Judicial College - part of the Ministry of Justice - publishes compensation guidelines for all personal injury claims, including those for whiplash.

The new fixed levels of compensation for soft tissue and whiplash injuries caused in road traffic accidents are shown in the table below:

Whiplash \ soft tissue injury duration (months)Revised damages - whiplash onlyRevised damages - whiplash including mild psychological injury
Not more than 3 months£240£260
More than 3 months but not more than 6£495£520
More than 6 months but not more than 9£840£895
More than 9 months but not more than 12£1,320£1,390
More than 12 months but not more than 15£2,040£2,125
More than 15 months but not more than 18£3,005£3,100
More than 18 months but not more than 24£4,215


There are additional compensation bands for more severe whiplash or neck injuries that involve serious soft tissue damage:

Injuries causing spondylosis with permanent pain£10,960 to £19,920
Severe neck injury with restricted recovery£19,920 to £30,690
Severe neck injury causing chronic, permanent symptoms£36,240 to £44,630
Severe neck injury causing chronic, permanent symptoms£6,290 to £10,960

Can I claim for whiplash if the accident was my fault?

If you are experiencing whiplash pain as a result of an accident which was entirely your fault, you are unable to make a personal injury claim.

If you were partially responsible for the accident which caused your whiplash symptoms,  you will still be able to make a claim under contributory negligence, also known as split liability. 

Split liability is when both sides in the claim agree on a share of the blame - this could be any ratio. For example, in a claim worth £10,000, say that the claimant is judged 50% responsible and another driver 50% responsible (50:50). The gross compensation payment for the claimant, before deduction of the relevant legal success fee and costs, would be £5,000.

If you're experiencing whiplash after an accident, please remember that we're here to help. You can call us on or alternatively, fill in the form below and we'll give you a call back.