How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?
If you have suffered a personal injury, or know someone who has, you know that it deeply affects your life, and not only because you are physically in pain. Many victims are forced off work during their recovery, and in serious cases, they may never fully recover and will need constant care – which can lead to financial difficulties due to decrease in earnings and increase in spending.
These financial issues, alongside a desire for justice and the will to find peace of mind again, lead most people to want their personal injury claim to be dealt with as quickly as possible, so that any compensation they’re entitled to is awarded to them in a timely manner, and they can get back to their lives – or to as close a normal life as possible. As a result, we are frequently asked how long a personal injury claim takes to settle.
Unfortunately, there’s no concrete answer to this question because no two claims are ever alike, and the personal injury claims process can vary depending on the nature of an accident. For example, a road traffic accident will commonly result is different injuries compared to someone who has suffered from clinical negligence. As a consequence, it is difficult to predict how long a personal injury claim will take to settle. Claimants should also note that liability and medical evidence are two major issues that can extend the claiming process.
Liability can seriously affect how long a personal injury claims process takes to settle. If the person you’re claiming against admits liability, the claims process can progress in a relatively straightforward manner and can be completed fairly quickly. However, if they dispute their liability, then your lawyers will go to court to prove that they’re responsible for the accident. This will lead to arguments between each party, and unless someone admits fault, it will eventually require a judge to make a decision. During this time, lawyers from both sides can - and will - call for witness statements, medical records and even CCTV footage, all of which can be time-consuming to obtain, thus lengthening the claims process.
When making a personal injury claim, you must first prove that the accident caused the injury or injuries that you’re claiming for. This can be easily proved through a medical report from a qualified doctor, but, depending on the kind of injuries sustained, it may be necessary to obtain more than one report, or you may need to partially/fully recover from your injuries before a medical expert can provide a detailed medical report. Depending on the injuries sustained, this can extend the duration of any claim by months or even years.
In some cases, the opposing lawyers will offer to settle the claim before it goes to court, and while it may seem appealing to ‘take the money and run’ we would advise against settling any claim until you’ve either made a full recovery or have obtained a firm medical diagnosis from a qualified professional. The reason for this is that once a claim has been settled, it is on a ‘full and final' basis, meaning no further compensation can be awarded in relation to the same claim. If you settled beforehand and found out afterwards that your injuries were more serious than anticipated, you would have under-settled and could be worse off physically, mentally and financially.
Streamlined Settlements Process
In 2010, the Ministry of Justice introduced a streamlined settlement process for road traffic accident cases valued between £1,000 and £10,000. In July 2013, the process was expanded to include public liability and employers liability cases valued between £1,000 and £25,000. Not taking exceptional circumstances into account, streamlined cases are expected to be completed within 4-9 months.
While we cannot give a concrete answer on timeframes, we can give you a guideline for the following claims:
- Road traffic accidents - 4-9 months
- Accidents at work - 6-9 months
- Trips, slips and falls - 6-9 months
- Industrial disease - 12-18 months
- Clinical negligence - 18-36 months
These figures are just guidelines, and we would have to look further into your claim(s) to be able to give you more detailed timescales. If you have been injured in an accident that wasn't your fault within the last 3 years, give us a call today on 0800 1560770, fill out our online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to help.