Legal Guides

How Long Will My Claim Take?

Personal injury claims can be quite complex at times, depending on the type of accident and the types of injuries sustained. This is why this is a difficult question to answer as there are many factors that come into play in the personal injury claims process. To understand the timeframes involved in making a claim we must look at each aspect of the claims process.

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Claim Timeframes

Timeframes include the following:

  • Legal Time Limits – Statute of Limitations (2 years less one day)
  • Gathering Details of the Accident (Timeframe Unknown)
  • Injuries Board Assessment (7 – 9 months)
  • Accept or Reject Injuries Board Assessment (28 days)

Legal Time Limits – Statute of Limitations (2 years less one day)

There are time frames in places that tell us how long a person has to make a personal injury claim following an accident. These time limits are explained in the statute of limitations.

Generally, a person has two years less one day from the date of knowledge of their injury to bring a claim forward.

What is the Date of Knowledge?

The date of knowledge refers to the date on which the injured person gained knowledge of the following facts:

  • That they had been injured
  • That the injury was significant
  • The injury was caused by negligence, nuisance or breach of duty by the party at fault for the accident
  • They know the identity of the party at fault

In many cases, the date of knowledge will be the day of the accident if the injuries are immediately noticeable. However, in some cases, an injury or illness may not manifest for some time after the accident. In these cases, the date of knowledge is the date they found out they were injured.

Note: Medical negligence claims are not reviewed by the Injuries Board, therefore the only way to stop the clock on the time limit is to issue legal proceedings. Therefore, it is important to engage a solicitor as soon as possible after the date of knowledge in medical negligence cases.

Gathering Details of the Accident (Timeframe Unknown)

If you are unsure of how to start, a personal injury solicitor is best placed to advise you. Your solicitor can assist you in gathering all the information needed in one place. The time frame on this part of the process may vary depending on how proactive you are and how quickly other parties involved (doctors for medical reports, parties at fault with CCTV footage, for example) come forth with information. Once this information is gathered your solicitor will prepare your Injuries Board application, which is the first step in the claims process. Useful information that your solicitor will require include:

  • Details of how the accident happened
  • Details of the injuries sustained and photos of the injuries where possible
  • Details of any pre-existing conditions or previous injuries
  • List of expenses incurred because of the accident, medical bills, for example
  • Details of the person(s) at fault for the accident
  • Medical reports – this can take some time to receive and depending on the claim and complexity of your injuries, the other side may request their own medical experts assess your injuries for further proof of your injuries – this may add some time to your claim.

Injuries Board Assessment (7 – 9 months)

The Form A is the name of the application that is submitted to the Injuries Board –  almost all personal injury claims, with a few exceptions, must start at this point and have their claim assessed by the Injuries Board first.

The Injuries Board are obliged, under its 2003 Act, to assess claims within 9 months of the other side’s consent to the assessment process. According to the most recent PIAB Annual Report 2017, the Injuries Board processing time was, on average, 7.3 months.

NOTE: once the Injuries Board Application is submitted the clock stops on the statute of limitations mentioned above.

Accept or Reject Injuries Board Assessment (28 days)

Once the Injuries Board returns with an assessment of your claim, you then have a choice to make. This choice may affect the amount of time it will take for your claim to settle.

Note: You have 28 days to make your decision.

There are 2 possible outcomes at this stage:

Outcome 1

If both you and the party at fault agree to the Injuries Board assessment of your claim and a suggested value of your claim then your claim will be settled there and then in order to pay will be issued for the party at fault to pay monies to you.

Outcome 2

If either you or the party at fault do not agree to the Injuries Board assessment then you move to the next stage and issue legal proceedings. This will add additional time and your case will take longer to settle.

Legal Proceedings (Timeframe Unknown)

If you move as far as legal proceedings, one thing you must realise is, most claims will settle outside of court before ever going in front of a Judge. This generally happens by way of a settlement meeting or multiple settlement meetings.

Your solicitor will be with you every step of the way you ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. If at this point both sides agree, then your case will be settled and the party at fault will issue payment to you.

However, if you do not reach an agreement at the settlement meeting stage, then your case will move to a hearing for a Judge to decide on your claim.

If this happens, it can be difficult to say how long this will take as it will depend on a couple of factors such as time of year and how busy the courts are.