How long does a work injury claim take?
The process for claiming compensation following a workplace accident can take anywhere from a few months to a number of years. Regardless of whether you are making a claim for an building site accident or a slip or trip-related work accident claim, there are two main factors that influence the speed of your claim:
- Liability - whether the employer accepts responsibility for your accident
- Medical prognosis - an expert medical opinion on the extent of your injuries, which helps to determine the compensation amount.
That said, there are steps that you can follow after a accident that can have a positive impact on the speed of the overall claims process.
Has your employer admitted responsibility?
If your employer admits liability, then the claim should reach settlement relatively quickly, in some cases,in as little as six months.
If liability is denied, however, then your solicitor will need to prepare a detailed case showing that the employer was responsible. Depending on the nature of the accident, it may be necessary to gather witness statements, CCTV footage, risk assessment records and a physical inspection of the workplace. In some cases, the accident may be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Discussions regarding liability may take several months to resolve depending on the strength of the evidence and the employer's opposing evidence. In some cases, you may have to go to Court to prove your case. Raising a court action can take many months or years to complete but may be the best option for winning your case.
What is the medical prognosis?
Every Claimant will be required to undergo an independent medical examination to confirm whether the accident caused your injury. This is necessary to prove your case.
The medical report will also specify the seriousness of the injury. The doctor will give an opinion as to how long it will take you to fully recover, and how the injury will affect your life both now and in the future. The medical report will form the basis of the compensation settlement.
If you have multiple injuries, or you require ongoing treatment such as physiotherapy, you may have to see a number of experts before a conclusion can be reached on the effect of your injuries. Or you may have to visit the same expert multiple times throughout your rehabilitation. This may take several months or longer, depending on your recovery.
Your solicitor is likely to advise that you wait to settle your claim until the medical prognosis is complete. The reason for waiting is that compensation settlements are made on a "full and final" basis. You cannot go back and ask for more money if the injuries turn out to be more serious than you originally thought.
Settle too early, and you risk under-valuing your claim.
What are average settlement times for workplace injury claims?
Since 2013, there has been a special procedure for dealing with workplace injury claims where the amount of compensation sought is less than £25,000.
The streamlined procedure, which is intended to speed up the litigation process and reduce costs, will apply in straightforward cases where your injury heals quickly and the employer accepts liability. Most workplace accident claims fall into this category. Streamlined claims may be settled in as little as 4 to 8 months.
Disputed claims usually take at least 9 months to reach a settlement, or longer if recovery from the injuries is expected to take a significant amount of time.
Ultimately, there is no formula to exactly calculate how long a workplace accident compensation claim can take to settle. Every case is different. Your solicitor will be able to give you an estimate of the likely timescale at each stage of the process and help you to reach a good settlement in the shortest amount of time.