How long will your claim take? A common misconception about delay

For a start, contact a solicitor and get legal advice as soon as possible after an accident.

Beyond that, it is a common perception, if you have been injured in an accident, that personal injury claims take years.

The tales are of insurers dragging things out as much as possible.

This then makes you vulnerable to a “soft” offer because you get to the stage where you just want it all to be over.

There is no standard timescale

When we are asked: “How long will my claim take?”, we would generally confirm that it is unlikely that your accident claim will be finished within weeks.

A timescale of months is more realistic.

No two claims are ever the same, so an accurate estimate at the outset is not possible. However, it is too simplistic to suggest that the delaying factors are all under the control of the other party or their insurance company.

Ballpark timescales should be possible to assess

One of our jobs in handling your claim is constantly to monitor progress and decide on the next step required in order to keep things moving as quickly as possible. It should always be possible for us to give you at least a ballpark idea of how much longer your claim is likely to take.

What influences how long it will take?

Some of the questions that are relevant to how quickly your claim can proceed are:

  • Is liability for the accident admitted?
  • How serious are your injuries?
  • How long will it take to obtain medical evidence from a suitable expert?
  • How complex is the case generally?

A possibly-speedy conclusion …

If you have largely recovered from your injuries by the time you consult us and the legal basis for your claim is reasonably simple, your compensation could be in your hands within six months.

The speed of progress of some parts of the claim cannot be speeded up …

Personal injury claims arising from accidents in Scotland generally follow procedure set out in the Voluntary Pre-Action Protocol. This is an agreement between solicitors and insurers about specific information to be disclosed by each side in different types of claim.

Adherence to the protocol means there are certain prescribed periods of time relative to a claim which it is not generally possible to short-circuit. Insurers are allowed in excess of three months to give their response on liability to your solicitor’s intimation of claim letter.

Where there is an admission of liability, it is often possible to negotiate settlement of the claim. If liability is denied, on the other hand, the only way to continue with the claim will be for you to raise court action.

The usual need for medical evidence

In all cases, irrespective of whether liability is denied or admitted, it is usually essential to get medical evidence for your claim by obtaining a report from a suitable specialist – such as an orthopaedic surgeon in the case of a broken arm or leg.

We need this evidence so we can value not only the injury part of the claim (known as “solatium”, in Scotland) but the other elements of the claim too (for example, wage loss).

For it to make sense to get an expert report to assist in the valuation of your claim, you generally need to have made enough of a recovery from your injuries that the expert can give an opinion on your probable prognosis – including your future capacity for work – with a reasonable amount of confidence.

Where an expert’s opinion about the future is overly speculative, it increases the risk that a settlement of the claim at that time is too soon. Essentially, the risk is that the claim will be settled at an under value.

Once a claim is settled, it is very unusual for there to be any chance of you being allowed to go back later and ask for further compensation. Accordingly, it is important to get the timing right as far as possible.

It may mean the prudent course is to be patient and wait a bit longer.

Complications in cases take many forms – some examples

Where you have suffered multiple injuries – and these may be psychological as well as physical injuries – that will often make the claim more complex and liable to take longer to conclude.

There can sometimes be problems arising from the status of the opponent in the claim. Limited companies can be dissolved or struck off the Register of Companies for many reasons. If the opposing party in your claim is a company that has undergone such a process since your accident, it is not possible to proceed with your personal injury claim without first restoring the company to the register. This would generally require a preliminary court action for restoration, followed by the personal injury action itself.

Contact us for help

If you need advice in connection with a possible personal injury claim, get in touch with us for an initial chat.

This is free of charge and without obligation.

You can contact either Marie Morrison or Peter Brash via 01343 544077.

Both of them are highly-experienced solicitors. Peter is accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Specialist in Personal Injury Law. Both Marie and Peter are accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) as Senior Litigators. The Elgin office of Grigor & Young holds corporate accreditation from APIL, one of very few solicitors’ offices in Scotland which hold such accreditation.

You can also contact us by completing a Free Online Enquiry.

We will do our best to give you an idea as to how long any claim is likely to take – as well as the likelihood of it succeeding.