There is no one definitive answer to the question of how long a personal injury claim takes to resolve.
While a typical compensation matter commonly takes up to 18 months to resolve, this very much depends on how complex the issues involved in your claim are.
A straightforward claim – one where the negligence of the party who caused the injury is clear-cut and irrefutable – will still likely take up to 18 months to resolve. This is because a person generally does not reach maximum medical improvement until 12 months post-accident. This is when a person’s injuries are deemed ‘stable and stationary’ and specialists will assess their injuries for medico-legal purposes i.e. for the purpose of a personal injury claim.
Other matters that may cause a claim to take longer, including when the insurance company involved questions the evidence presented to support the claim. An insurer may argue that the person making the claim contributed to the injury they sustained, and therefore are entitled to less compensation, or even try to deny the claim altogether.
It may also question the extent of the injury, and seek to put the claimant through medical tests and assessments with practitioners of its own choosing. You must remember that it is normal for the insurer to seek their own medical evidence.
If the claim is rejected altogether, the person making the personal injury claim may have to resort to legal action to seek a court’s decision on whether the injury should be compensated or not. This process can lengthen the entire claims process to two years or more. However, this only occurs in very rare circumstances.
What other issues are involved in resolving personal injury claims?
In most areas of the law, the aim of any claim is to avoid going to court. Legal action that ends up in court costs more money and takes more time.
In the vast majority of personal injury claims, the matter will be settled before litigation is required. The claim will begin with a Notice of Claim to the insurer of the party who you believe caused the injury with details of the incident, why the other party was negligent, and the extent of the loss or damage you believe you’ve sustained.
As discussed, an investigation by the insurer will usually ensue. It may ask for more evidence of the damage or loss and require more information on the assessment of the injury. After this step, a settlement conference will generally be convened for the parties to try and negotiate a settlement.
Only once this process is exhausted does litigation become the next step. And even if legal action is commenced, the parties will be encouraged to undertake dispute resolution procedures to try and reach a settlement before the need to appear in court. Only a very small number of claims ever end up before a Court.
The expert advice of specialist compensation lawyers is highly advisable throughout all of the steps described above. Again, a typical claim – even where settled before court action – is likely to take up to 18 months.
Covid-19 and other delays in personal injury claims
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic not only closed down Australian states but
had an understandable effect on how quickly personal injury claims could be resolved.
Initially, when law firms and insurers were adjusting to the new normal some delays occurred. However, the parties quickly adjusted and the need for essential meetings moved from face-to-face to remote and online-only meetings, particularly for settlement conferences, mediations and medico-legal appointments.
The need to be Covid-safe meant many medical assessments had to be conducted online, a far from an ideal situation when it comes to the importance of such reports as evidence in a personal injury claim. That being said, we have not seen a negative impact on claims in the shift to online and covid safe arrangements.
Claimants also need to be aware that it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to move very slowly to settle a claim in the hope the claimant will become frustrated with the delay and settle for less.
This is one reason cited for the current long delays in Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claims being assessed and settled in Queensland, with many people waiting more than two years for resolution of their cases.
How experienced personal injury lawyers can help
At Lifestyle Injury Lawyers, personal injury claims are our specialty. Our long experience representing clients seeking compensation for an injury caused by another party’s negligence means we can give you best and worst-case scenarios on how long your claim will take and how much compensation you might be entitled to.
While nothing in life is certain – including how compensation claims will play out – our expertise in this area allows us to give you a good picture of the strength of your claim after an initial consultation, which in turn provides a firm idea of how long the claim will take.
It’s also important to remember there are deadlines along the way for the person making the claim. Court action, for example, must be commenced within three years of the injury being sustained.
Call us Gold Coast Injury Lawyers today for an obligation-free first meeting if you believe you have a personal injury claim.