What happens if my employer doesn’t respond to a claim?

Updated: October 21, 2022

When making a work injury claim, a solicitor will start by notifying your employer (the 'defendant') of your injury.

In most cases, an employer’s solicitor or insurer will promptly confirm receipt. The defendant will then respond in detail to the claim in due course.

But, what happens if your employer doesn’t respond?

Pre-Action Protocol

Making a work injury claim against an employer is known as an 'employer's liability claim'.

If your personal injury solicitor estimates your claim to be worth between £1,000 and £25,000, your claim will initially follow The Pre-Action Protocol for low value personal injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability).

Claims following this protocol are administered through a 'fast-track' online portal that:

  • speeds up the claim process
  • encourages information sharing and communication
  • sets specific timescales
  • encourages early, out-of-court settlements

What if my claim is worth more than £25,000?

If your solicitor thinks that your claim may be worth more than £25,000, or if your claim is particularly complex, it will not follow the Pre-Action Protocol.

Instead your claim follow the 'multi-track' process. There is no standard procedure for multi-track claims. The first step will still usually be to write to your employer and notify them of your claim.

However, multi-track claims usually involve the courts from early on in the claim, starting with an informal meeting with judge and all other parties involved.

Multi-track claims usually take longer to settle than fast-track claims

Sending a Claims Notification Form (CNF)

Once you have instructed a solicitor, the first step your solicitor will take is sending a formal letter of claim known as a Claims Notification Form (CNF) to your employer (the 'defendant'), and their solicitor and/or their employer's liability insurance provider.

(In the UK, employers are legally required to hold employers' liability insurance.)

The CNF will:

  • confirm your name and contact details
  • confirm the type of accident and when, and where, it occurred
  • set out the basis of your claim
  • provide details of medical attention you received
  • detail any financial losses you have incurred
  • ask your employer whether they admit liability for your injury.

From this point on, claims are typically handled by an employer’s liability insurance provider and their legal representative. This is because it is usually the insurer that confirms acceptance of liability and, ultimately, pays you financial compensation.

Most of the correspondence during a claim will be between your solicitor and the employer’s insurance company.

How long does my employer have to respond to the letter of claim?

In most cases, the defendant is obliged to:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the letter of claim within 21 days of the date of posting the letter of claim.
  • Provide a full response within 3 months of the acknowledgement. (a court may extend this date in exceptional circumstances)
  • State whether liability is accepted or denied

If your employer denies liability for your injury, or alleges that there was contributory negligence, your employer must include relevant disclosure documents to accompany their full response.

See also:

Does the employer or their insurer pay injury compensation?

Can I claim for an injury if my employer was not insured?

My employer has not responded - what happens next?

Sometimes employers fail to reply to the Claims Notification Form.

An employer might, for example:

  • have misplaced the claim form
  • be hoping that the claim will go away if they ignore it
  • be playing for time whilst gathering information or documents
  • try to contact you personally to dissuade you from making a claim

If you fail to get a response to your claim within the specified time frame, for whatever reason, then your employer is likely to be in breach of the Pre-Action Protocol.

Your personal injury solicitor can take steps to force your employer to respond by applying to the court.

Find out more: What happens if my claim goes to court?

Applying for a court order

If your employer fails to respond to the CNF, your solicitor will make an application to the court for Pre-Action Disclosure (PAD).

Your solicitor will file court papers and then attend a court hearing to establish that, by not responding to your claim, the defendant has materially failed to comply with the Pre-Action Protocol.

You will not need to attend this court hearing.

If your solicitor can show that your employer failed to respond to your claim, or is not responding quickly enough, you may be granted a court order.

The court order will require your employer to:

  • Accept or deny liability, and;
  • Disclose any information and documents required to progress your claim.

As the defendant is usually required to pay the legal costs associated with the PAD application, it incentivises employers to respond promptly to injury claims.

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Are there any alternatives to making a PAD application?

If there are genuine mitigating circumstances for your employer's delayed response, the court may reject the PAD application.

If your employer has a valid reason for the delay, your solicitor may give a warning and offer an extended period in which to respond.

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?

Read more: Work accident claim guide

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