Personal Injury Claim Time Limits – Don’t Leave it Too Late

01 September 2017

By Personal Injury Solicitor Emily Henner

When pursuing a personal injury or medical negligence claim, it is important to be aware that there is a time limit within which it is necessary to register your claim with the Court.

Time Limits for Personal Injury Claims

Most types of claim are subject to a time limit. These are governed by the Limitation Act 1980 and vary depending on the nature of the claim. Other Acts of Parliament deal with limitation in respect of some of the more specialist claims.

When pursuing a personal injury claim, the relevant date is 3 years from the date of the accident or from the date of knowledge. This extends to 6 years when your claim is purely contractual and does not include injury.

For example, if you were injured in a car accident on 5th January 2017, you’d have until 5th January 2020 to bring a claim in the Courts.

Things are slightly more complicated when there is a claim for medical negligence. In clinical and medical negligence claims, the time limit is 3 years from the date of negligence, or from the date of knowledge that negligence has occurred. The date of knowledge can be difficult to establish and it is always advisable to seek legal advice as soon as you are aware that you might have a claim.

Claims involving recovery of land have a longer limitation period of 12 years.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Where the person making a personal injury claim is a ‘minor’ (a child under the age of 18) the time when they must submit their claim to the Court expires on their 21st Birthday.

In addition, exceptions may be made where an injured party is a ‘protected party’. This might mean, for instance, that he/she has a mental disability.

Consequences of Missing the Limitation Period

Where a claim is not brought within the relevant period, it is open to the Defendant to argue that the claim is ‘time barred’. Such a defence is likely to be successful and the Court is likely to strike out your claim. In these circumstances you will have lost your opportunity to claim.

However, it is possible that a Court may allow the claim to proceed, even where such a defence is raised. But it would be necessary for the claim to be particularly strong and there would need to be very good reasons for allowing it to continue.

The most likely outcome of missing the limitation period is that you would lose your ability to claim compensation.

What Should I Do?

Your claim must be registered with the Court within the limitation period. It is therefore essential to protect your legal position by instructing a Personal Injury Solicitor to investigate your claim as soon as possible. 

Most Personal Injury Solicitors tend not to accept cases which are within 6 months of the end of the three year period for personal injury. So if you do not seek legal advice in time, you may miss your chance to pursue a claim for compensation.

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