Accident at Work - How Long Does it Take to Get Compensation?

Jonathan Thursby
Associate Solicitor, Personal Injury Claims

No two accident at work cases are the same, so it’s difficult to say from the outset exactly how long your claim will take. However, the following will help you get an idea as to what steps need to be taken, and therefore how long it could take to get your compensation.

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The Accident at Work Claims Process

Once we’ve taken the details of your accident and you have instructed us to represent you, your claim will be passed to a Personal Injury Solicitor who specialises in employer’s liability claims.

The first stage in the claims process is for us to draft a formal Letter of Claim. This sets out the details of the accident, the injuries sustained and why we think the Defendant (your employer) is at fault.

After the Letter of Claim is sent, the Defendant then has 21 days to acknowledge the Letter of Claim and then a further three months to investigate the workplace accident. By the end of the three months, we would expect the Defendant to have completed their investigations and to have provided their position on liability i.e. whether they admit liability or deny liability (fault).

If the Defendant admits liability, then we’ll obtain your medical records and arrange for you to be examined by a suitable medical expert. The medical expert will review your records, examine you and write a medico-legal report.

The type of medical expert will depend upon your injury, so if, for example, you have broken bones, then an orthopaedic surgeon would be appropriate, and if you’ve suffered scarring, a plastic surgeon would be appropriate.

The medical report is an important document in your case because it will be used to value your physical or psychological injury. If you have multiple injuries, it may be appropriate for you to be examined by more than one type of medical expert.

What if the Other Party Doesn’t Accept Liability?

If liability is denied, we’ll expect the Defendant to explain why and to provide documents in support of their denial. This may include accident reports, workplace risk assessments and maintenance records. We’ll review the denial and any documents and will then advise you fully as to its merits.

Denying liability doesn’t mean that we can’t proceed with a claim, and if we’re happy that there are reasonable prospects of success, we’ll proceed and obtain medical evidence as referred to above. Once this is obtained, we’ll provide you with a copy of the medical expert’s report.

Sometimes, a medical expert is able to provide a final prognosis in the first report, but often, especially where injuries are more serious or symptoms are ongoing, treatment and further reports will be recommended.

We’ll be able to advise you more fully once the first report is obtained. It’s not unusual in cases involving serious injury for us to obtain a number of reports from multiple experts in different specialisms.

We’ll also take instructions from you with regards to any financial losses that you’ve suffered as a result of the accident. Financial losses include but are not limited to:

      • Loss of earnings
      • Travel costs
      • Treatment costs
      • The cost of care and rehabilitation

Once medical evidence is finalised and we’ve finalised details of your financial losses, we’ll then value your claim and advise you on an appropriate offer to make to the Defendant to settle your case. Sometimes we may advise you to invite an offer of settlement from the Defendant rather than make an offer to them.

If liability is denied or if a negotiated settlement can’t be reached, it may be necessary to start Court proceedings. In effect, in doing this we’re asking the Court to decide whether the Defendant is liable for your accident at work and if so, to decide how much compensation your claim is worth. Your Personal Injury Solicitor will guide and advise you further at this stage.

What Else Could Delay the Claims Process?

Many factors can affect how long it takes to get compensation for an accident at work, such as:

The Need for Medical Reports

To properly value your claim, it will be necessary to obtain at least one medical report from an appropriate expert. It’s very common for two reports to be obtained, and certainly not uncommon for there to be more than this. Generally, the more reports there are, the longer the case will take.

Liability Arguments

If the Defendant denies liability, it’s very likely that your claim will take longer and it may even be necessary to go to Court.

Need for Medical Treatment

If you require medical treatment such as surgery, or rehabilitation, it’s likely that your case will take longer because your Personal Injury Solicitor may need to know the outcome of your treatment before settling your claim.

Complexity of Losses

Aside from your injury, you may have suffered financial losses such as a loss of income. These losses will need to be investigated properly, which will take time, and it may even be necessary to obtain expert evidence (such as a forensic accountant’s report) to calculate those losses.

Need for Specialist Expert Evidence

Your accident at work case may warrant expert evidence such as engineering evidence.

How You Can Help to Speed up the Claims Process

In order to help your claim proceed as quickly as possible, there are several steps you can take, including:

        • Return all papers to your Personal Injury Solicitor as soon as possible
        • Provide your Solicitor with instructions when asked to do so
        • Attend all medical appointments that your Solicitor arranges for you. If you find that you can’t make the appointment, let your Solicitor know right away.

At Simpson Millar we offer a highly personal service that’s tailored to every case. Our friendly and approachable team of experts will listen to you, and speak to you in plain English without legal jargon, as we want you to know exactly what’s going on at every stage of your claim.

To see the amounts of compensation payouts awarded, see Examples of Accident at Work Cases.

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