This question about personal injury claims is often asked and always answered at our first meeting with new personal injury clients. The answer is that it will depend on a number of factors.
The client’s injuries
We advise clients not to settle their claims until they have recovered to their final state. Hopefully that will mean a full recovery in a few months. However, in cases of serious injuries including amputations and head injuries, it may be several years before the client’s recovery is as good as it ever will be and they are left with permanent disabilities which will affect their ability to work and care for themselves in the future. Only after obtaining one or more medical reports at that point will we be able to accurately value the claim and start settlement negotiations. Generally, the more severe the injury, the longer the claim will take to settle.
Whether liability is admitted by the opponent or not
If it is, then subject to the client reaching the final state of recovery, the conclusion of the case will not be affected. If liability is denied however, it may mean that Court proceedings are needed before the claim is resolved. Civil Proceedings usually take between 12 and 18 months from the point of issue to a final hearing. In our experience, less than 5% of claims started actually reach a final hearing as most will be resolved before then. Some cases settle very soon after the proceedings have been commenced.
How long it takes the opponent or its insurers to respond
In low value claims, the insurers of opponents will usually take between 3 weeks and 3 months to make a liability decision. Some will take even longer for reasons unknown to us. If the client has made a full recovery, their claim will settle earlier if there is a quick admission compared to one that takes 6 months.
The wishes of the client
In all cases, it should be remembered that we, as solicitors, advise our clients, but it is they who make the decisions as to when to settle or conclude their cases. It is not uncommon for a client who has been injured at work to ask us to delay the case until they find another job or until after a round of redundancies as they fear that their employers will act differently towards them when a claim is submitted. Most employers do not treat their employees differently if they bring a claim against them, but a small minority will do so – quite wrongly. It is not uncommon for clients to instruct us to settle their claims early and against our advice. They usually recover much less than they would if they took our advice, but that is their privilege and provided we have advised them correctly, we don’t mind if they choose to under-settle their claims.
We can never give an accurate estimate as to when a claim will finish as much of what happens is outside our control, such as how long before a doctor is able to examine a client and produce a medical report, how long before a Court issues proceedings (some can take up to 6 weeks after receiving the papers), the length of time before an employer produces details of lost earnings and other factors. This does not stop us giving a rough estimate, which we will regularly update as the case progresses.
We are able to accurately predict that we will always give our clients our best possible advice and if you have a question about any type of personal injury claim, please call our team on 0114 218 4000 or email us at email@example.com