How long will my personal injury compensation claim take?

The length of time required to settle long an injury claim can vary significantly.

For example, a straightforward car accident claim can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas a particularly complicated medical negligence case might take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if the defendant denies liability.

Average claim duration table

The following table shows, on average, how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

average claim duration*

Road accident claims (e.g. whiplash claims)

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

What factors affect claim duration?

There are several factors that can affect the length of time a claim takes to complete, including:

  • the type and seriousness of the injuries or illness
  • the circumstances of the accident
  • the time it takes to gather medical evidence
  • whether the other side accepts liability
  • whether the identity of the other party is known

Will the type of injury affect the claim duration?

Yes. The type of injury or illness you have sustained can be a critical factor in how long a claim takes to settle.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will arrange for you to have a local medical assessment. Depending o the type and severity of the injury, this could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

In exceptional cases, such as complex medical negligence, the medical assessment could be an ongoing process that takes years.

To ensure claimants receive maximum compensation, solicitors tend to recommend that a claim is settled only once the extent of the injuries are fully understood and recorded.

Will the accident circumstances affect the claim duration?

Yes. The circumstances of your accident will have a bearing on how long your claim will take:

Road traffic accidents, work accidents and injuries in a public place

If your claim is worth less than £25,000 and it relates to a road traffic accident, employer's liability or public liability, your claim will be processed through the Pre-Action Protocol. This means that your claim would initially be processed through the online Ministry of Justice Claims Portal.

Through the Pre-Action Protocol, the defendant's insurer has a 'total consideration period' of 35 days in which to consider the evidence and make an offer. These time limits are subject to various conditions and may be extended.

Claims settled through the Claims Portal should take around 4 to 9 months, assuming you want to accept the initial settlement offer.

Read more about:

Road traffic accident claims

Work accident claims

Public place injury claims

Medical negligence claims

Medical negligence claims are typically more complicated and involved.

It is more challenging to provide a claim length estimate without an initial claim assessment. As a very rough guide, a claim may take 6 to 12 months if liability is accepted by the treatment or care provider immediately.

If liability is disputed, it could take 12 to 18 months for more complicated claims. Very complex cases can take significantly longer.

Read more about:

Medical negligence claims

Industrial disease

Industrial disease claims can be settled relatively quickly if liability is accepted.

Some claims may, however, take significantly longer, particularly if it is difficult to identify the employer responsible for the claimant’s illness.

If a definitive medical prognosis has been made, the claim length should fall within the normal range. However, if the prognosis or extent of the illness is unknown, this can protract the claim.

Read more:

Industrial disease claims

How long does it take to receive an offer of compensation?

Compensation offers can be made by the defendant, or their insurance company, at any time.

Insurance companies will often make a ‘low-ball’ initial offer before the claimant has even instructed a personal injury solicitor. Insurance companies do this with the commercial intent of settling for less money.

Most cases taken on by solicitors are where the defendant appears to be liable. Most defendants will want to avoid the expense of court action and, once their insurance company realises the liability position, they will usually make an offer quickly.

At the other end of the spectrum are complicated cases.  For example, partial blame on both sides may lead to a 'split-liability agreement' with a dispute over how to apportion blame fairly.

How long will it take to get my compensation after I accept an offer?

Once an insurance company has admitted liability and agreed to process the claim, they tend to move quickly. Some claimants receive their compensation in a few days.

More commonly, the claimant will receive their compensation payment within 2 and 4 weeks.

If the other side denies liability, will my claim be delayed?

If the other side (the defendant) accepts liability quickly, it will usually be possible to settle the claim in a short period, without the need to go to Court.

If the other side does not accept liability or does not offer a reasonable settlement, a solicitor may need to take court action on behalf of their client. Going to court can take more time, but it may be the difference between winning and losing a claim.

What if it is not clear who is responsible for my injury?

It may not always be clear who caused or is responsible for your injury.

For example:

  • Someone else caused your accident or injury, but their identity is unknown, for example, a hit-and-run accident, or
  • You may be partly responsible for the accident or injuries, for example, an injured driver who was not wearing a seatbelt.

If you don't who caused your injury, it is still often possible to make a claim. Whether compensation is available can depend on the nature of the injuries and the type of incident that caused them.

Read more: What if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury?

What if I want to settle as quickly as possible?

As a claimant, you are entitled to settle and end your claim whenever you wish.

You can accept the first offer as soon as you receive it, or instruct your solicitor to try to negotiate for a higher amount.

A good personal injury solicitor will advise you at every stage of the claim process. The solicitor's experience will be invaluable when deciding whether to accept a settlement offer or continue negotiating for a higher amount.

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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FAQ's

What can I do to speed up a claim?

There are several things you can do to speed up the time it takes to agree on a settlement and receive your payout.  For more information

See: What can I do to speed up my personal injury claim? 

After a medical, how long does a compensation claim take?

Your solicitor will arrange for a medical examination to assess the extent of your injury. The medical will be carried out by a local, independent medical expert who will produce a report on the extent of your injuries.

This report is a critical piece of evidence in support of your claim and is used to calculate your compensation.

What is in the medical report?

The medical report assesses:

  • The nature and seriousness of your injuries
  • An estimated recovery time (the prognosis)
  • Recommendations for further investigation or specialist assessment
  • Treatment options

Compensation is calculated based on the contents of the medical report. A claim may take longer to complete if the defendant’s solicitors or insurer dispute the report, or further medical evidence is required.

See: Will I need a medical exam if claiming compensation?

Can I get an interim payment?

An interim payment describes when part of a likely compensation award is paid in advance.

Interim payments can be awarded when you are unable to work due to your injuries. Interim payments may also be possible if you need to cover urgent expenses such as treatment or car repairs.

It may be possible to negotiate an interim payment with the insurance company. If the insurance company does not agree, you can insist on an interim payment if:

  • liability has been accepted or established
  • the court is satisfied that compensation would be paid if the case went to court
  • court proceedings have been initiated, and the court believes that compensation exceeding the interim payment is likely

See: Can I get interim compensation payments?

How long does a child injury claim take to settle?

In cases involving children or vulnerable people, the agreed settlement or award must be approved by the Court.

In practice, this process is merely a formality and will not usually cause serious delays for the payment of compensation.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert