If you have suffered an injury and subsequent losses due to someone else’s negligence, you might want to make a personal injury claim. The solicitors we work with can help secure compensation for the pain, suffering and financial losses caused by your accident.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might be wondering how long does a personal injury claim take? Several factors influence how quickly you can get compensation, including the type of accident, the nature of your injuries and liability disputes. While straightforward cases may settle in just a couple of months, the most complex ones could take several years to conclude.
What is the personal injury claims process?
The personal injury claims process involves several stages and can vary depending on the specifics of each case. Here is a general overview of the process:
A free initial consultation
Personal injury solicitors offer a free initial consultation during which you will discuss the details of your claim. They will assess its merits and provide advice on the next steps. You can also ask any questions you might have regarding the process.
Appointing your solicitor
If you are eligible for compensation, you will be paired with a solicitor with expertise in your type of case. The lawyers we partner with work on a no win no fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay them anything unless your claim is successful.
Gathering evidence for the claim
After determining liability, your solicitor will help you gather all the evidence you need to secure compensation. You can assist by providing proof such as photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, witness contacts and medical records.
A medical assessment of your injuries
Your solicitor may also arrange a free medical exam with an independent specialist. They will provide a detailed report that will confirm the cause and extent of your injuries, your recovery prospects and future care needs. The other side may also request that their medical expert assesses your injuries.
Once your claim is ready, your solicitor will inform the defendant of your intentions to claim compensation. If the other party admits liability, they will enter into negotiations. The goal is to reach a fair settlement that compensates you for the pain and suffering endured, any psychological trauma, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injuries.
Settlement or court proceedings
If you reach a settlement agreement, your solicitor will review the terms with you and, if acceptable, finalise it. If you cannot settle, they may advise initiating court proceedings. The formal litigation process involves preparing legal documents, presenting evidence, and arguing your case before a judge. They will review your claim and decide if and how much compensation is owed to you.
If your case goes to trial, a verdict will be reached based on the evidence and arguments presented. Otherwise, your claim will settle through negotiations. If you are successful, you should receive the compensation awarded to you within 2 to 4 weeks.
Each of these steps will influence how long it will take for your personal injury claim to settle. The sooner you appoint your solicitor and start gathering evidence for your case, the sooner your claim will resolve, and you can get the compensation you deserve.
What affects how long does an accident claim take?
Several different factors will influence how long it will take for a personal injury claim to settle, including:
The nature of your injuries
More severe injuries take longer to assess properly and provide the necessary medical treatment.
The circumstances of your accident
How you suffered your injuries also plays a big role in how long a claim will take. A road traffic accident where the other driver admits liability, or there have been witnesses will typically settle quicker than a case of medical negligence.
The complexity of the case
If the case involves complex legal issues or multiple parties, gathering evidence, conducting investigations, and negotiating a settlement may take longer.
Whether you know the defendant’s identity
This typically applies to hit-and-run accidents or criminal injuries where the liable party is unidentified. In such situations, your solicitor may direct your claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau or the CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority), both of which have their own designated timelines for conducting investigations.
The expected recovery times
Most claims do not settle until you have fully recovered or know the full extent of any permanent damage caused to you. This ensures the compensation you receive is fair and takes into account any long-term implications of your injuries.
The availability of evidence, such as medical records, witness statements and accident reports, can also impact the speed of a claim.
If the other party is denying their responsibility for your injuries, your solicitor will need to gather additional evidence to support your claim. This process can take several weeks or even months, which may prolong the time it takes for your case to settle.
The estimated value of your claim
The amount of damages you are claiming for your injuries will also influence how long a personal injury claim takes. A claim valued at £5,000 will likely settle much quicker than one valued at over £1,000,000.
If negotiations break down or multiple offers and counteroffers are exchanged, it can prolong the process. Again, this is more likely with higher-value claims.
Whether your case goes to court
If your case needs to be resolved through court proceedings, the process can take significantly longer.
Your solicitor will work hard to build a strong case and secure the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible. To get started with a claim straight away, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back today to speak to a legal adviser.
Does the type of accident affect how long a personal injury claim takes?
Yes, the type of accident can impact how long a personal injury claim will take to settle. Some accidents may require more thorough investigations, additional expert opinions, and more complex legal processes. Others may involve multiple parties, which can also contribute to a longer claims process. For example:
Road traffic accidents, workplace accidents and public liability claims
If your claim is valued at less than £25,000 and involves a road traffic accident, an accident at work, or an accident in a public place, it will go through the pre-action protocol. That means it will initially be processed using the Ministry of Justice Claims Portal.
Under the pre-action protocol, the defendant’s insurance company has 35 days, known as the total consideration period, to review the evidence and make a settlement offer. These time limits are subject to certain conditions and may be extended.
If your claim settles through the Claims Portal and you choose to accept the initial offer, it typically takes around 4 to 9 months to finalise the process.
Medical negligence claims
Medical negligence claims are typically more complex and could take much longer to settle. Claims under £25,000 facilitated by NHS Resolution usually resolve within two years, while those worth more than £1,000,000 can take over five years to conclude.
Industrial disease claims
Industrial disease claims typically involve extensive medical evidence, expert opinions, and investigations into the work environment and exposure history. If liability is accepted, claims related to industrial diseases can be settled relatively quickly, typically between 12 to 18 months. Some cases may, however, take significantly longer. That is especially true if your employer is no longer trading or it is hard to identify which employer from your work history was responsible for your illness.
Does the type of injury impact how long it takes for a personal injury claim to settle?
The type of injury or illness developed due to someone else’s negligence can be critical for how long a personal injury claim will take. More complex and severe injuries usually need more time to assess, treat and recover before evaluating your damages.
For instance, injuries that result in long-term or permanent disabilities often involve extensive medical investigations and expert assessments to determine the full extent of the impact on your life. Your solicitor will arrange for you to have a free medical examination of your injuries. It could take a few weeks to several months to obtain a medical report which will serve as a critical piece of evidence in your claim. This process can significantly lengthen the time it takes to settle.
Furthermore, certain types of injuries, such as those caused by medical negligence or industrial diseases, may involve complex legal and medical issues. These cases require thorough investigation and gathering of evidence, including expert opinions and specialised knowledge in the specific area of law. As a result, these cases may take longer to resolve.
If you have suffered multiple injuries, your claim may also take longer. That may be the case if the secondary injury is scarring or you have experienced psychological damage due to your accident. On the other hand, a claim for a minor injury can settle within a few months. In any case, it is essential not to rush into a settlement before the extent of your injuries and future needs are fully understood.
Does a personal injury claim take longer if liability is denied?
Yes, any liability disputes will likely increase how long it takes for a personal injury claim to settle. If the defendant denies liability, they do not accept they were responsible for your accident. If this happens, your solicitor must gather additional evidence and build a stronger case to prove liability.
This situation may involve conducting further investigations, collecting witness statements and consulting with experts. The process of gathering evidence and negotiating with the other party’s legal representatives can be time-consuming and result in court proceedings if you cannot settle. In some cases, the denial of liability can significantly extend the duration of a personal injury claim.
What can I do to speed up the claims process?
There are several things you can do to improve how long an accident claim will take, including:
- Do not delay speaking to a personal injury lawyer and starting your claim. The sooner you contact a solicitor, the easier it will be to build a strong case and settle early.
- Complete the initial forms your solicitor will send to you without delay. These may include the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) and an instruction form.
- Be thorough and accurate when talking to your solicitor. Give a detailed account of what happened, provide requested documents promptly, and respond quickly to any questions or requests for information.
- Work closely with your solicitor and give them any information or documents they need to progress your claim. Respond promptly to their messages and attend any appointments or assessments as scheduled.
- Seek medical treatment as soon as possible for your injuries and follow the recommended treatment plan. That will show the extent of your injuries and provide essential documentation for your claim.
- Gather as much evidence as possible and keep all records, receipts, and documents related to your accident, injuries, and expenses. This will help make the claims process smoother and ensure that all necessary information is readily available.
If you are in a hurry, you may also choose to accept an early-stage offer from the defendant’s insurer. Many insurance companies offer an initial settlement that may be just enough to tempt you to settle to help themselves save money in the long run. It is not usually advised to take an early-stage offer, as your claim could be worth much more once you have all the facts. Once you have agreed to a settlement, you cannot ask for more compensation later.
Do I have to wait until my claim settles for my compensation?
No, you do not necessarily have to wait until your claim is settled to receive compensation for your damages. In some cases, if the defendant admits liability or this is clear, your solicitor may negotiate for interim payments during the claims process.
An interim payment refers to a partial award of the expected compensation that is made in advance. These can help you cover immediate financial needs caused by your injuries, such as medical expenses and loss of earnings.
However, the availability of interim payments may vary depending on the circumstances of your case and the cooperation of the other party. Your solicitor can advise whether they may apply to your situation. Usually, the court can order an interim payment if:
- The party you are claiming against admits their fault for your injuries
- There is a strong likelihood of success at trial
- You have a valid reason to request an interim payment, such as an urgent medical bill or financial hardship
- You are asking for a reasonable amount that is less than the total compensation you are seeking
To sum up, there is no one answer to the question of how long does a personal injury claim take? That will strictly depend on the circumstances of your case and the cooperation between the parties involved and could take anywhere between a few months to several years.
If you want to start a claim today or find out more about how long an accident claim takes to settle, call 0800 678 1410 today to speak to a legal adviser. You can also enter your details into our online claim form for a free case assessment.