How long does a work injury claim take?

Updated: March 26, 2020

The length of time it takes to receive compensation following a work accident can vary significantly. Straightforward cases can be resolved in a few months. More complex, serious or contested cases can take years to settle.

The 2 factors that most affect the time a claim will take are whether the employer accepts liability and the medical prognosis.

What are the typical settlement times for workplace injury claims?

Since the introduction of the Pre-Action Protocol legislation in 2013, all claims with an estimated value of less than £25,000 follow a fast-track procedure.

This fast-track procedure was introduced to help speed up the litigation process and reduce costs associated with lower value personal injury claims. Most workplace accident claims start on the fast-track protocol.

Disputed claims usually take longer to reach a settlement. Claims may also take longer if your injuries are serious or complex.

Ultimately, there is no formula for calculating 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 reasonable settlement in the shortest amount of time.

How long does a work injury claim take (pre-action protocol)?

Stage Time Limit
Stage 1 - Investigation
Defendant acknowledges receipt of Claim Notification Form (CNF) sent at start of claim 1 working day
Defendant responds to CNF 30 working days
Stage 2 - Negotiation
Evidence is gathered and settlement pack prepared Varies
Defendant responds to offer of settlement 15 working days
If the offer is not accepted, negotiations can be extended 20 working days
Stage 3 - Settlement hearing
If a subsequent offer is not accepted, a settlement hearing is required Varies

*Please note that the portal process does not apply if the defendant denies liability or there is a question of contributory negligence.

What can affect how long a claim can take?

Your employer admits liability

If your employer quickly accepts responsibility for your injury, your claim should reach a settlement relatively quickly.

Settling a claim too quickly can be counter-productive. The right level compensation amount can only be properly assessed once the extent of your injuries and losses are fully known. Your employer's insurer may make an early or pre-medical offer to settle. Such an approach is often a tactic to convince claimants to accept a lower amount in favour of a quick settlement. If you do receive a near immediate offer to settle, your solicitor will advise you accordingly.

Your employer denies liability

If liability is denied, your solicitor will need to prepare a detailed case to prove that your employer was responsible.

It may be necessary to gather witness statements, CCTV footage, risk assessment records and a physical inspection of the workplace - all of which take time to collate. In some cases, the accident may even 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 defence. Your employer's insurer may initially deny liability only to quickly reverse their position as the weight of evidence increases.

The vast majority of claims are settled out of court. If your case does go to court it can add months to the process.

Find out more: What if my employer denies liability?

Medical report

Attending an independent medical examination is a standard part of any injury claim.

Following the assessment, the medical profession will produce a medial report detailing:

  • the seriousness of your injury
  • the prognosis for recovery
  • an estimate of how long your recovery will take
  • how the injury will affect your life both now and in the future.

The medical report will form the basis of the compensation settlement. The full extent of your injuries may not be known at your initial medical. If this is the case, you may need to attend further medicals to fully assess the extent of your injuries. This could protract your claim but is necessary to ensure you receive the compensation you need.

What if I have multiple injuries?

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.

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 undervaluing your claim.

Have you been injured at work?

If you have been injured at work in the last 3 years, you may be able to claim financial compensation.

Find out more about making a work accident claim:

  • Do you qualify?
  • How much compensation could you get?
  • How does No Win, No Fee work?
Work accident claim guide