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Making An Insurance Claim

30 Apr 2021

If you want to make an insurance claim, you may be concerned about the length of time that it will take to settle your claim. There are lots of different factors that come into the length of time it takes for an insurance claim to be settled.

Every personal injury case is different so the time frames mentioned in this article are only a  estimation but they are often applicable. There are lots of different factors that go into determine the amount of time it takes for an insurance claim to be settled, which will be discussed in this article.

If you would like to find out more about making a personal injury claim, speak to First Personal Injury today.

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Pre-Action Protocols

Pre-action protocols explain the conduct and expectations that the courts want both parties to have taken prior to the commencement of the legal proceedings at court level.

The maximum amount of time that is allowed for insurance companies to do a requested action is three months and 21 days. This amount of time is broken down through:

  • The claimant’s solicitor submits a letter to the defendant that discusses the details of the claim. An initial response from the defendant to this letter must be submitted within 21 days. 
  • The defendant then has three months to investigate the nature of the claim and respond. The response to this claim must include a decision on whether they admit liability. If they do not admit liability, their response must include a disclosure document which details their defence against the claim being made.

If the insurance company fails to provide a response by the time limit, an application to the court for a pre-action disclosure can be made.

Furthermore, there are other factors to take into account which can influence how quickly something is being settled. For example:

  • If the liability for the accident is clear and unequivocal.
  • The injuries related to the accident are minor and there will be no permanent impairment, such as a disability or brain damage.

More complex cases which involve arguing over liability or disputing the compensation amounts will take longer to solve. The defendant could also request further medical evidence. However, pre-action protocols at least give you a general estimation of how long it will take for an insurance company to respond to a claimant.

This can help to begin to build up a picture of how long it takes for a claim to be settled. However, there are other factors which must also be considered.

Type of Claim

The specific type of insurance claim that you are engaged in will be a very important factor in determining the amount of time it will take to solve your case. For example, road traffic accident cases, work accident cases or accident in a public place cases that are worth less than £25,000 are typically just settled through pre-action protocols. This means that your case could be settled very quickly and with little hassle.

As stated above, the defendant's insurance company will have a limited amount of days to respond to the claimant and if they wish so, to make them an offer of compensation.

However, for more expensive and more complex accident types, your case will likely take much longer. Medical negligence cases and industrial disease cases are far more complex and will often take much longer to settle. Industrial disease cases in particular can be complex because the nature of the illness and its longevity is often unknown or can be disputed by different medical experts. Therefore, there may be some contention surrounding how much compensation should be granted.

Medical Reports

Medical reports which help to determine the type and severity of the injuries that are being discussed in a specific case are an incredibly important part of any case. Medical reports are essential in determining the specific amount of compensation that a client will be given in their case.

In lots of personal injury cases, the medical examination is requested by the insurance company because they want to verify the injuries that the claimant is stating they have. This is because an insurance company would not want to pay for injuries that do not exist or injuries that are not as severe as is being claimed. The insurance company will usually ask you to see a medical examiner who is of their choosing.

Medical reports usually also take a specific amount of time to be delivered, from the time that a medical examination is initially made to when the report is issued. There can be delays that are outside of the client's control, such as a delay in a medical report copy reaching them or the need for more information. However, medical reports generally take about six to ten weeks from the initial examination to reach your solicitor.

Disagreement About Liability

If the defendant in your case denies liability, it will likely mean that the case goes on for longer and that it goes to litigation (see below). A defendant will usually not accept liability in cases where they believe that you are partly to blame for the accident occurring. This can often be seen in road traffic accidents or cycling accidents.

It is more difficult to put an estimate on the amount of time that disagreement about liability could take. However, the initial disagreement before a case goes into litigation could range from weeks to months. This is because both sides could argue for a while about the case, believing that they might be able to convince the other side through evidence, before they reach an impasse and decide to go to court.

You should not worry if there are disagreements about liability in your case, or about going to court in general. While it might add time onto your case, it can be the difference between winning some compensation or winning nothing at all. Therefore, it can still be extremely valuable to go to court in an insurance claim.

Litigation

Litigation refers to legal proceedings that are initiated between two opposing parties. In the simplest terms, if a case goes to litigation it means that a verdict is being reach inside a court of law rather than an agreement being resolved between the two parties who are involved without the guidance of a judge. If a case goes into litigation it will most likely take a lot longer to resolve than if it does not. Litigation will eventually conclude with a settled agreement between two parties.

There are many reasons as to why a case might go into litigation but the most common reason is that liability cannot be agreed upon by both parties. Another reason could be that the extent or severity of the injuries is disputed by the claimant and the insurance company. While going into litigation is not uncommon in an insurance case, many claims are settled out of court simply for ease and speed.

If you wonder whether your case is likely to go into litigation, you should consider how these factors relate to your specific circumstance:

  • The type and seriousness of your injuries or your illness.
  • The time it takes to gather medical evidence - perhaps if there is a disagreement in this area or there is a smaller amount of evidence than necessary due to a passage of time since the accident.
  • The specific circumstances of the accident - are they quite complex and contentious or simple.
  • Whether the other side is willing to accept liability - is it clear that one side is to blame in this case or is it possible that it is a case of split liability.
  • Is the identity of the defendant known - for example are you making a claim for a car accident in which a driver hit your car and then drove off.

Litigation will typically take at least a year to be settled. This is due to the often complex and contentious nature of the cases that need to be brought to the courts. Still, it is still worth going into litigation if you cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company, you may still win your case.

While litigation will last for a year minimum, it can often go on for longer than that, even numerous years, depending upon the complexity of the case and the ability of both sides to agree on a verdict.

However, this should not dishearten you from making a personal injury claim. The fact that it takes this long to settle a case simply means that both sides are trying to collect as much evidence and place their best argument forward as possible. This therefore means that your solicitor and your side of the case in general will have the best possible chance of winning because your solicitor will be able to present the best case for compensation that they possibly can.

Making Personal Injury Claims

If you have suffered a personal injury, you may be entitled to receive compensation. First Personal Injury solicitors are available to assist you and ensure that you win the compensation that you deserve.