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Should I Settle My Personal Injury Claim Now or Wait
This sounds like a daft question and is one that sometimes I cannot answer. All I can do is give my client the facts and let them decide whether to settle their personal injury claim now or wait.
Let me explain. Mr A was involved in a car accident 2 months and suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and shoulder. Liability has been admitted by the negligent driver’s insurer and so the next task is to gather evidence to prove that the accident was the cause of Mr A’s injuries. In legal terms, this is known as medical causation.
To establish medical causation, I must instruct a Medico-legal expert to examine Mr A. Following the examination, the expert will prepare a report detailing the injuries which Mr A suffered and the prognosis, i.e. how long, in the expert’s opinion, it will take for Mr A to recover from his injuries.
Using this report I can assess the potential value of the claim in terms of the injuries suffered. This all sounds straightforward and now you are wondering why anyone would ask whether they should settle their claim now or wait.
Apart from in very rare circumstances, once a personal injury claim is settled, it is settled. You cannot go back for a second bite of the cherry. Remember, Mr A had the accident two months ago. The medical expert is of the opinion that Mr A will recover from his injuries one year after the accident. The choice Mr A now faces is whether he should settle the claim now on the basis that his injuries will fully resolve in a year, if not before, or wait until the end of the prognosis period.
If Mr A settles the claim before the end of the prognosis period but his injuries continue past that year or indeed become worse, he will not be able to return to the Defendant’s insurer to claim extra compensation.
So as much as my clients might like me to answer this question for them, I can’t. All I can do is give my client their options, settle the claim now in the hope that the injuries will have resolved by the end of the prognosis period… or wait.

By Ruth Hinchliffe