What to do when your injury claim is slow? When you consider claiming compensation for injury suffered in an accident you probably wonder how long the whole process will take. Perhaps you have already begun the process of claiming compensation and it is taking longer than you thought or you are trying manage your future budget and want to know when you can expect to receive your compensation. Some people think that the legal process takes forever and are put off from claiming, whilst others believe they should earn a “quick buck” and are dissapppointed when this doesn’t happen.
So how long should a personal injury claim take?
Sorry, but the answer is.. “It depends”. In a straight forward case we would expect to resolve the matter fully within 6 months. However it can be quicker or slower. Many factors affect the amount of time it takes to settle a personal injury claim. Here we discuss the 5 most common…
1. Liability is in dispute.
If the person or company you blame for the accident denies it was their fault, resolution of your claim will be delayed. Settlement cannot occcur until they change their position or a court decides they are to blame. Your solicitor will have to gather and prepare the evidence to support your claim and assess the evidence presented by the Defendant. They will have to present your claim to a judge at trial and seek a decision in your favour. This all takes time. The more complicated the dispute the longer the delay. A simple RTA where both drivers blame each other will be much quicker to resolve than an industrial accident with many witnesses.
Is liability admitted in your case? If so, this is not an issue. If not, ask your solicitor have they prepared your evidence? Have you seen the Defendant’s evidence? Are court proceedings underway?
2. Your injuries are complicated.
To settle your personal injury claim the injuries that you sustained need to be indentified. They either need to be resolved, have a timescale in which they will resolve or be permanent. This is established by obtaining a medical report from a doctor. The doctor must be qualified to comment upon your injuries. This report will be used to decide how much compensation you recieve.
Delays can occur when your injuries are more serious. The doctor may not be able to provide a timescale for recovery. Perhaps it is too soon after your accident. You may have to undergo further treatment and await the outcome. Maybe you need diagnostics such as an MRI scan or ultrasound. The doctor may not feel qualified to comment upon a specific injury and recommend that a further report be obtained from a specialist eg a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.
Have you been examined by a doctor? What does the report say? Are all your injuries documented and have a specific receovery period? Do you need more treatment or a further report?
3. Injury claim is slow? – Perhaps the Defendant or insurance company is being obstructive.
A difficult Defendant can dramatically slow down your personal injury claim. Problems may arise immediately. The correct Defendant may be hard to identify. For example, a road traffic accident where the other driver flees the scene or a fall in a public place where the owner of the land is not apparent. These issues can be resolved but may involve government agencies who can be incredibly slow and cannot be hurried.
Once identifed and presented with a claim some Defendants believe that being obstructive is the best way to defeat it. They may deliberately ignore correspondence, refuse to provide insurance details or even lie about their involvement. The court process can be used to enforce compliance with the process but this causes delay (see number 4).
An increasingly common problem is obstructive insurance companies and their agents. Whilst fraudulent claims are unacceptable and should be properly investigated, some insurance companies seem to approach all claims (even the most obviously genuine) as though they are fraudulent. They adopt an obstructive and delaying tactic in hope of bullying claimants into abandoning their claims.
Check whether your solicitor has identified the correct Defendant and/or their insurance company? Are they engaged with the process and replying to communications? The legal process imposes time limits upon Defendants to respond to claims? Is your solicitor monitoring these deadlines and enforcing them through the legal system?
4. The legal system is slow.
The court system is a civil service and like many other areas of our infrastructure it has suffered from many years of underfunding, cuts and technological change. Many of our local courts have been closed, staff numbers cut and most of the processes have been centralised. This has led to a system that is creaking under the weight of users, lacks transparency and is struggling to deal with claims within timescales that the public find acceptable. You can read more about the courts failure to meet targets here.
There is little that can be done to speed up the court process other than by ensuring that your solicitor undertakes all the appropriate legal steps as soon as the process permits and enforces any lack of compliance by the Defendant.
5. Your Solicitor is slow.
If your injury claim is slow, it must be said that sometimes this is caused by your solicitor. Perhaps they are too busy. They may not be an expert in personal injury claims and are out of their depth in relation to the seriousness of the injuries, the specialist legal process or even both. It is human nature to deal with more straightforward matters before dealing with a difficult case.
The solution to this problem is to use a fully qualified solicitor . One that fully understands the legal process, who is experienced and knowledgable in using it to ensure that claims proceed swiftly. Instructing a solicitor that specialises in personal injury claims will also ensure that your medical condition is identified quickly and they will be able to obtain a suitable report from an appropriate medical expert.
Our specialist personal injury solicitors are experts at pursuing personal injury claims. You can read about them here. They are fully qualified and very experienced with settling claims as quickly as possible, yet ensuring their client’s receive maximum compensation.
If your injury claim is slow, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist solicitors for free advice on how to speed it up without any obligation to use our services.