How long will my personal injury compensation claim take?
How long it takes to settle an injury claim can vary a lot. Simple car accident claims might be completed in weeks, while complex medical negligence cases can take years to resolve. Claims can take longer if there's confusion over who's at fault, or if the other party denies liability.
We outline the typical timelines for the different types of claims, and examine the factors that can influence how quickly you get your compensation.
Typical personal injury claim duration table*
The following table gives you an idea of how long different the types of personal injury claims take might take to so settle:
|Claim type||Typical duration|
|Road accident claims||2 to 6 months**|
|Work accident claims||6 to 9 months|
|Medical negligence claims||1 to 3 years|
|Industrial disease claims||12 to 18 months|
|Public place or occupiers’ liability claims||1 to 3 years|
|Product liability claims||6 to 18 months|
|MIB claims (uninsured drivers)||3 to 4 months***|
|CICA claims (criminal assault)||12 to 18 months***|
**RTA and other claims processed through the Claims Portal can settle faster.
***Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.
Factors that affect how long a claim takes
The time it takes to settle a claim will depend on various factors, including:
If your claim is for less than £25,000 and involves a car accident, work-related issue, or public accident, it will initially be processed through a system known as the Pre-Action Protocol. This means your case starts in an online portal managed by the Ministry of Justice.
In this system, the insurance company of the party you're claiming against has 35 days to review the evidence and propose a settlement. The 35-day window may be extended under certain conditions.
Claims settled through the Claims Portal should take around 2 to 6 months, assuming you want to accept the initial settlement offer.
The time needed to settle the following types of claim can also vary significantly:
Medical negligence claims
Medical negligence claims are typically more complicated and will depend on how the defendant responds. Historically, the NHS has had a policy to fight the majority of claims, seemingly as a deterrent. (this should not deter you from making a no win, no fee claim).
Medical negligence cases may take under a year if liability is accepted by the treatment or care provider.
If liability is disputed, it could take between 1 and 2 years, and perhaps as many as three years for extremely serios and complex claims.
If the party employer responsible for an industrial disease quickly admits liability, a claim can settle in a shorter timeframe. However, if it's challenging to pinpoint which employer is liable for your illness (perhaps due to prolonged exposure over years working for multiple employers), the claim may take longer. Additionally, if the full scope or long-term impact of your illness is still unknown, it could further extend the duration of the claim.
Child injury claims
In cases involving children or vulnerable people, the agreed settlement or award must be approved by the Courts. In practice, this process is a formality and will not usually cause serious delays before the payment of compensation.
If the other party, known as the defendant, admits liability quickly, your claim could settle faster. However, if the defendant doesn't admit liability or doesn't agree to a fair settlement, your solicitor might ultimately have to take the case to court which could extend the timeline. It's worth noting that most claims are settled without going to court.
Type of injury
The kind of injury or illness you've experienced can significantly affect how long your claim takes to resolve.
Early on, your solicitor will arrange a local medical assessment for you. This medical report will be crucial in supporting your claim and calculating your compensation. The time it takes to get this report can vary, from a few weeks to several months, depending on how severe or complicated your injury is. In particularly complex cases, you might need ongoing medical assessments over years.
It's usually best to settle a claim only after understanding the full impact of your injury. This includes your future medical needs and lost earnings, both past and future. Although it is ultimately up to you, solicitors often recommend waiting to settle until you know the full extent of your injuries, to make sure you get the highest possible compensation.
Multiple injury claims
If you've suffered multiple injuries, your claim may take longer, depending on how your injuries interact to impact your life.
For instance, if you've fractured a rib and broken an arm, your claim might not take much longer to process. However, if you have facial scarring in addition to other injuries, extra time might be needed for a thorough assessment of both the lasting cosmetic impact, and any psychological effects.
If the person who caused your accident cannot be identified, such as in a hit-and-run, or if you share some responsibility for your injuries, like not wearing a seatbelt, determining who is at fault may be complicated. Despite this, making a claim is often still possible.
If the defendant is uninsured, a claim would probably take longer to settle. A lack of insurance adds complexity as you may, in the case of a road accident for example, need to seek compensation from the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) or directly from the defendant, which can involve delays.
How long will it take to get 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’ pre-medical offer, sometimes even before a solicitor has been appointed.
Most defendants will want to avoid expensive court action and once their insurance company realises the liability position, a settlement offer will usually be made quickly.
In more complicated cases there may, for example, be fault on both sides. In this case, delays can occur as the apportionment of blame is disputed and a 'split-liability agreement' is reached.
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.
What if I want to settle as quickly as possible?
You have the right to settle your claim at any stage, whether you accept the first offer or opt for further negotiations. A skilled personal injury solicitor will guide you through each step, offering valuable advice on whether to accept a settlement or aim for a higher amount.
An interim payment is an advance on your likely final compensation. These payments can help if you can't work or have urgent expenses like medical treatment or car repairs. While you can negotiate for these with the insurance company, you can also insist on them under certain conditions if:
- liability is established
- the court agrees you'd win your case
- court proceedings have already started and a larger compensation sum is anticipated.
The claims process will vary depending on how your injury happened. Click the icons below to learn more:
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Questions about the injury claims process?
Get all the answers in our comprehensive FAQ section:
- How will a personal injury claim affect my benefits?
- Will I have to pay tax on my injury compensation award?
- Can I make a personal injury claim for someone else?
- Can I claim injury compensation if there were no witnesses?
- Can I make an injury claim if I don't know who's to blame?
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.