How long will my personal injury compensation claim take?

The time needed to settle an injury claim can vary significantly. A straightforward car accident claim, for example, can settle in a matter of weeks. A complicated medical negligence case might take years.

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

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Average personal injury 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

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 will affect how long my claim takes?

Several factors can affect the length of time a claim takes to complete, including:

  • the type of injury
  • how you were injured
  • the time needed to gather evidence
  • whether the defendant accepts liability
  • whether the identity of the other party is known

Will the type and severity of my injury affect my claim?

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

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will arrange for you to have a local medical assessment. This report is a critical piece of evidence in support of your claim and is used to calculate your compensation. Depending on the type and severity of your injury, the medical report could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to obtain.

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

Ideally, a claim should only be settled once the full extent of any pain suffering and amenity is known. Your future medical needs, loss of past and future earnings, and any other support you will need should be fully costed.

To ensure claimants receive maximum compensation, solicitors tend to advise that a claim is settled only once the full extent of the injuries is known.

What if I have multiple injuries?

It depends on how the injuries have combined to affect your life. If you fractured a rib and broke your arm in an accident, for example, the claim is unlikely to take any longer.

If the secondary injury is scarring, a claim could take longer as more time will be needed to assess the lasting effects of the injury.

If you experienced a psychological injury as a result of a physical injury, the claim is likely to be more complicated and could, therefore, take longer.

Read more:

Claiming compensation for multiple injuries

Will the circumstances of my accident 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

Child injury claims

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.

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 before the claimant instructs a solicitor. Insurance companies do this with a view to paying out 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, a settlement offer will 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.

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.

Can I get an interim payment?

An interim payment is 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?

Will my claim take longer if the defendant denies liability?

If the other side (the defendant) accepts liability quickly, your claim may also settle quickly - 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.

Read more:

How often do injury claims go to court and what if they do?

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

It may not be clear who is responsible for your injury if, for example:

  • Someone else caused your accident, but their identity is unknown, e.g. a hit-and-run accident.
  • You may be partly responsible for the extent of your injuries if, for example, another driver ran into you but you were not wearing a seatbelt.

If it is not clear who is responsible your injury, it is often still possible to make a claim.

Read more:

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

What if I want to settle as quickly as possible?

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

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

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

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?

How we can help you

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

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
  • 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday

Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor