How long does a common law claim take?

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Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the duration of a common law personal injury claim. Depending on the type of case and specific complexities, typical time frames can be broadly estimated:

  • Work, Road, Public Place Accidents: Many of these cases settle within 18 to 24 months from the claim's start date.
  • Medical Negligence: These claims usually run longer. Settlement often happens within 18 to 24 months or more, as medical expert input is often more complex and takes additional time.

Important Note: Strict time limits apply to making a personal injury claim. You could lose rights if delays exceed these. Seeking prompt legal advice after an incident is always wise.

Factors That Affect Common Law Claim Timeline

Here's a breakdown of aspects that influence how quickly or slowly a common law claim might progress:

  • Proving Liability: If fault is readily accepted by the other side, resolution occurs faster than with vigorously contested or unclear scenarios.
  • Injuries Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement: Calculating future losses needs to wait until your injuries stabilise. Severe cases often take longer as the long-term impacts evolve.
  • Gathering Evidence: Assembling proof (records, expert reports, etc.) takes time, especially with complex injuries or negligence
  • Insurer's Cooperation: Negotiating settlements depends heavily on their willingness to agree on an appropriate compensation amount. 
  • Need for Court Proceedings: While most cases settle pre-court, if negotiation stalls, a full lawsuit means a much longer, more regulated timeframe dictated by court schedules.

Despite these variables, there are certain laws governing personal injury claims which aim to make the pre-court claim process as fast as possible (for instance, requiring an insurer to take certain steps to resolve your claim). 

For example, once you have lodged your claim form, the defendant must provide its liability response within 6 months. After this liability decision is received, in WorkCover claims, a compulsory conference must be held within 3 months. For all types of claims, any court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years from the date of your injury.  

The Process and Its Impact on Timing

  1. Investigation & Pre-Filing: Your lawyer gathers evidence, prepares legal paperwork, and communicates with the insurer. 
  2. Compulsory Conference: Before a claim can be filed in court, there must be a conference between the parties. Most Queensland claims settle at this so-called ‘compulsory conference’ which occurs in an office meeting setting. You will normally be present with your legal team and the legal representatives of the at-fault party's insurer (such as WorkCover Queensland or CTP insurer of an at-fault driver).
  3. Court Trial (if needed): This is the lengthiest process. It occurs only if all attempts at negotiations and conferences fail, leading to significant time commitments.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Having a skilled personal injury lawyer on your side can streamline the process. They'll:

  • Strategically assess evidence to build a strong case.
  • Navigate the legal complexities quickly.
  • Actively push the claim through various stages.
  • Negotiate firmly to protect your right to timely and fair compensation.

Smith’s Lawyers are experts in Queensland personal injury common law claims. All claims are run on a risk-free basis with no upfront costs.

Last updated:
February 28, 2024

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.

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