Background: The evidence that compensation related factors are associated with poor recovery is substantial but these measures are generic and do not consider the complexity of scheme design. The objectives of this study were to understand people's perceptions and experiences of the claims process after sustaining a compensable injury in a motor vehicle crash (including why people seek legal representation); and to explore ways to assist people following a compensable injury and improve their experience with the claims process. Methods: A qualitative study in a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) personal injury scheme covering the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. A series of five focus groups, with a total of 32 participants who had sustained mild to moderate injuries in a motor vehicle crash, were conducted from May to June 2011 with four to eight attendees in each group. These were audio-recorded and transcribed. The methodology was based on a grounded theory approach using thematic analysis and constant comparison to generate coding categories for themes. Data saturation was reached. Analyst triangulation was used to ensure credibility of the results. Results: Five primary themes were identified: complexity of the claims process; requirement of legal representation; injury recovery expectations; importance of timely healthcare decision making; and improvements for injury recovery. Some participants struggled, finding the claims process stressful and subsequently sought legal advice; whilst others reported a straight forward recovery, helpful insurer interactions and no legal representation. Most participants were influenced by injury recovery expectations, and timely healthcare decision making. To assist with injury recovery, access to objective information about the claims process using online technology and social media was considered paramount. Conclusions: Participants had contrasting injury recovery experiences and their perceptions of the claims process differed and were influenced by injury recovery expectations, and timeliness of healthcare decision making. Improvements to the claims process are required, including: simplification or streamlining (possibly using online technology and/or social media to reduce paperwork); and providing access to objective information. There is a need to trial early interventions and new claims management policies that could improve injury recovery and satisfaction with the claims process.