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Please note: This advice is for our serious injury clients. For more information around your claims journey, please visit our help and advice centre.

This is one of the most frequently asked questions of those handling personal injury claims.

There is a common misunderstanding about personal injury claims that compensation payments will be made shortly after an accident. When in fact,  depending on the complexity of the claim, it can take make years to bring a claim to a conclusion. Whilst Minster Law will try to bring a claim to a conclusion as quickly as possible, it is important that any cases are investigated fully to ensure a client gets the compensation they are entitled to.

Personal injury claims must follow the legal process, which means there are certain time limits set out within the civil procedure rules and certain evidence needs to be in place before offers  can take place.

Timeframes and actions in a claim

  1. A claim begins when a letter of claim is sent to the defendant. The defendant (more usually their insurer) has twenty-one days to acknowledge the letter of claim and three months thereafter to indicate their position in respect of liability.
  2. If liability is established, then we must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused you to sustain injuries and that any ongoing symptoms were also caused by the accident.

    To prove causation, you will need medical evidence from a medical expert who will be instructed by your solicitor.

    Before this can be done, a full set of your medical records will need to be obtained, because the medical expert will need to see whether you have any pre-existing conditions that may affect their opinion.

    Whilst a GP surgery and hospital should provide copies of your records within one month of request, this can often take longer because of administrative delays, or if you are about to receive or are receiving treatment.

    In addition, it will be how soon the expert can provide an appointment. It is important that the right expert is instructed on your claim, and this may mean a longer waiting time for appointments.

    It may be the case that the experts recommend further investigations such as x-rays, CT or MRI scans before they can provide an opinion. These can take time to arrange on behalf of clients.

    All medical evidence must be complete so that your solicitor can value your claim. Any valuation will depend on what symptoms are attributable to the accident, how long you have suffered with those symptoms for, or how long you are likely to suffer from your symptoms.

  3. In addition to medical evidence, your solicitor will require details of any financial losses that you have suffered. Evidence in support of those losses will need to be obtained. This will include contacting your employer for details of time off work and lost earnings. Anybody who has provided you with care and assistance will need to be contacted so evidence of that care can be obtained from them.
  4. Negotiating a settlement of your claim can only begin once all the evidence in support of your injuries and financial losses are obtained.

    Minster Law’s preference is to reach an agreement with the defendant’s insurers to avoid the need for court, but if it’s not possible to do so then issuing court proceedings may be the only way forward. Most claims do not go to trial and settle beforehand.

  5. Once proceedings are issued and served; the defendant must respond by serving a document called a Defence. Assuming the defendant indicates the claim will be defended, they will have 28 days from receipt of the court papers to send out the Defence, although they can then request a 28-day extension.
  6. When the defence has been filed, the court will ask the solicitors acting for each party to file a Directions Questionnaire and suggested directions dealing with any further medical evidence required by you or the defendants, and the disclosure of evidence in support of the parties’ cases. This will need to be done within 28 days.
  7. Once the Directions Questionnaire has been filed, the court is likely to list your claim for an initial hearing known as a Costs and Case Management Conference (CCMC), where the court will set out the timetable for the parties to take certain steps. There are significant delays with the court and it can take several months for the CCMC to take place.

The timetable set by the court will deal with the following:

  • Disclosure of documents
  • Exchange of witness statements
  • Exchange of expert evidence and joint meetings of experts
  • Set a trial window for a trail to take place

It is difficult therefore to estimate how long a case will take because there are so many stages, and each case and client must be treated individually, with respect and attention before a successful claim can be brought. Minster Law works hard to ensure all claims it deals with are settled in the minimum amount of time, dependent obviously, on the nature of the claim and the injuries involved.

You can take a look at our serious injury claims journey and frequently asked questions for more information.