Background: Research suggests that exposure to the compensation system (including time to case closure) could adversely influence a persons' recovery following injury. However, the long-term predictors of time to claim closure following minor road traffic injuries remain unclear. We aimed to assess a wide spectrum of factors that could influence time to claim closure (socio-demographic, compensation-related, health, psychosocial and pre-injury factors) over 24 months following a non-catastrophic injury.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of 364 participants involved in a compensation scheme following a motor vehicle crash. We used a telephone-administered questionnaire to obtain information on potential explanatory variables. Information on time to claim closure was obtained from an insurance regulatory authority maintained database, and was classified as the duration between the crash date and claim settlement date, and categorized into < 12 (early), > 12-24 (medium) and > 24 months (late).
Results: Just over half of claimants (54 %) had settled their claim by 12 months, while 17 % and 30 % took > 12-24 months and > 24 months for claim closure, respectively. Whiplash at baseline was associated with claim closure time of > 12-24 months versus < 12 months: multivariable-adjusted OR 2.38 (95 % CI 1.06-5.39). Claimants who were overweight/obese versus normal/underweight at the time of injury were ~3.0-fold more likely to settle their claim at > 12-24 months than < 12 months. Consulting a lawyer was associated with a 10.4- and 21.0-fold increased likelihood of settling a claim at > 12-24 months and > 24 months, respectively. Each 1-unit increase in Orebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire scores at baseline was associated with greater odds of both medium (> 12-24 months) and delayed claim settlement date (> 24 months): multivariable-adjusted OR 1.04 (95 % CU 1.01-1.07) and 1.02 (95 % CI 1.00-1.05), respectively.
Conclusions: Around a third of claimants with a minor injury had not settled by 24 months. Health-related factors and lawyer involvement independently influenced time to claim closure.
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- minor injury
- road traffic crash
- claim closure