‘How Long Will My Personal Injury Claim Take?’ is usually one of the first questions a client asks during their first meeting. The answer is not a straightforward one!
There is no set timescale for a personal injury claim and no two claims are the same. The length of time it takes to conclude a claim depends on many factors.
If the claim is uncomplicated and/or low value, the Defendant (or their insurer) is expected to respond within a timeframe of between 3 weeks and 3 months. Often Defendants will take much longer than this to respond, which has a knock-on effect on the overall timescale for concluding the claim.
If the Defendant admits liability straight away the claim is likely to progress reasonably quickly. The timing is subject only to your recovery and the availability of medical evidence.
If the Defendant denies liability, detailed investigations and discussions may need to be conducted to establish liability. This could involve:
- reviewing lengthy documentation (e.g. police reports, risk assessments, accident reports, training records)
- reviewing CCTV footage
- preparing witness statements
If there are complicated disputes on liability it can take some time to assess the evidence and, if it is possible, for the parties to come to an agreement.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, Court proceedings are likely to be needed to resolve the dispute. It will often take between 12 and 18 months for a disputed claim to reach a trial or final hearing. In reality, most claims will settle at some point during the proceedings, very few actually reach a trial.
The value of your injuries will be assessed using a medical report from an independent medical expert. The report will confirm the extent of your injuries, the timeframe for your recovery (or final state of recovery) and whether you are likely to develop any problems in the future.
If your injuries are minor and you make a swift recovery, it should not be a complicated or lengthy process to obtain appropriate medical evidence and then to settle your claim.
If you sustain severe or multiple injuries, it is likely that a number of medical reports from different experts will be necessary to properly assess your claim’s value. You might also need to undergo rehabilitation treatment (such as physiotherapy or counselling) before a medical expert can give a final prognosis for your injuries. These factors will affect the time it takes to conclude your claim. Generally, the more severe the injury, the longer the claim will take to settle.
It is not advisable to settle a personal injury claim until you have either made a full recovery from your injuries or the medical expert has given a firm and final future prognosis for your recovery. If you decided to settle your claim before that, you would be at risk of under-settling. Personal injury claims are concluded on a full and final basis. There is no option to claim extra compensation if your injuries persist for longer than you expect or if they get worse as time goes on.
Other factors delaying the claim?
Ultimately it is up to you to decide when to settle you case and there may be other factors that might influence that decision. For example, a client who has suffered an injury at work might want to delay the claim whilst they secure another job.
The law imposes very strict time limits for bringing personal injury claims. If you fail to act within those time limits you are likely to be prevented from making a claim, irrespective of how strong your case is or how severe your injuries are.
The usual rule for adults is that you have three years from the date of the accident in which to bring a personal injury claim. If your claim has not been settled, or court proceedings have not been issued, by the third anniversary of the accident your claim will become statute-barred and you will not be able to pursue it.
In order to minimise the risk of being out of time to make your claim, it is advisable to seek specialist advice as soon as possible. Contact our team of expert personal injury lawyers, based at our head office in Leicester, to speak to someone today. Your first meeting with us, whether at home, the hospital or at our offices, will always be completely free.