The short answer to this is that if there is clearly someone to blame for your accident and their insurance company have admitted liability then you should be able to settle your case as soon as you recover from your injuries. However, if the insurance company do not offer you adequate compensation at an early stage you may need to submit your claim to P.I.A.B. or issue legal proceedings.
Here are 8 of the most common reasons that your case may be delayed in reaching a conclusion
1. Liability is in dispute:
Sometimes establishing liability or who is to blame for your accident is not straightforward. If there is more than one person to sue in relation to an accident and you are not sure who is to blame then you may have to sue both. This may involve having to go further along the legal process simply because neither insurance company will take responsibility at the outset. Or delay can occur if the other party you are suing denies liability and you need to gather evidence to prove your case. This can take time.
2. Your injury is ongoing and you have no prognosis:
If your injury has not been fully diagnosed by your doctor or you require further medical investigations, treatment or surgery then it would be unwise to settle your case without the full picture as to what your injuries are. It is impossible to put a value on a case where your injuries and your expenses have not been fully established. A general rule of thumb is that if your doctor can give a definite prognosis to your injury, you have followed a definite course of treatment and your injury is actually resolving then at that stage you can consider settling your case. Sometimes there can be long waiting lists to see certain doctors or consultants and this in turn will affect the length of time you will have to wait to settle your case. Very often their medical report can be crucial to you getting the compensation that you deserve.
3. The insurance company have offered you compensation which is too low and does not reflect the full value of your case:
We are very proactive in getting compensation for our clients. We do not believe that a client should have to wait years for their money once we can establish the value of their case. Sometimes the insurance companies try to undervalue a case and can offer compensation that is far below what a client should accept. In these circumstances it is always better to move your case on to the next stage in the claim process and to hold out for the compensation that you deserve.
4. Dispute as to your injuries:
If your own medical report differs greatly to the medical report of the insurance company’s doctor it may be difficult to reach agreement on what your case is worth. Usually in these circumstances we will recommend that you get another expert medical report to clarify exactly what your injuries are and that you push on to the next stage of the claim process so that your case is still being actively worked on.
5. Discovery of your own medical records:
It is now far more likely than unlikely that the defendant’s solicitor in your case will request copies of your past medical records. These are usually requested with a view to establishing if there is any aspect of your current injuries that they can blame on your past injuries or illnesses. In other words they are requested with a view to lowering the level of compensation that they will have to pay to you. Taking up copies of these records, particularly if you have had previous injuries or illnesses can take time. For this reason we now address this at our first consultation with you to try to avoid delays down the line.
6. You may need to seek discovery records from the person you are suing:
The most common example of this is when a client has a slip or fall and we need to get discovery of cleaning records or CCTV footage of the accident. If the defendant does not hand over this evidence voluntarily then it may become necessary to go to court to obtain a court order forcing them to do so. This can be a lengthy procedure, however, it is usually always a worthwhile exercise to obtain the evidence you need to prove your case. We will always address what evidence needs to be gathered at your first consultation to keep any delays to a minimum.
7. You may need to get a court order to obtain access for your engineer to inspect the scene of an accident:
If you have an accident at work or on someone else’s premises then it may be difficult to go back to the scene of the accident to take photographs or to obtain critical evidence. You may need to get the consent of your employer or the owner of a shop to allow your engineer to gain access to view the site of the accident. If that consent is not forthcoming, then you will have to go to court to get a court order forcing the defendant to allow your engineer to have access to the accident site or piece of machinery, or vehicle so that evidence can be gathered or preserved. This can delay your case, but as the responsibility is on you to prove your case it is a necessary delay if the consent is not being given upfront.
8. Court waiting list for Hearing date:
If you are further along the litigation process and legal proceedings have been issued on your case, one source of delay can be waiting to get a court date. These dates are given out by the court services in the Circuit court and there is also a procedure to be followed when obtaining a hearing date for the High Court. We have found that the waiting lists over the last few years have improved so this is not as big an issue as it used to be a few years ago.