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Published On: December 5, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Is There a Time Limit For Making A Personal Injury Claim?

If you or anyone you know has suffered a life-changing injury in an accident, whether that be on the roads, at work or in a public place, it is very important that you seek specialist legal advice as early as possible in order to fully understand your options and the complexities and nuances of the legal process in seeking compensation, for what are often catastrophic injuries and losses.

There are a number of reasons why we would recommend getting in touch with a solicitor promptly. The main reason is that they might be able to help arrange early access to urgently needed rehabilitation and treatment for you, or they might be able to find and interview witnesses to provide an account of the incident while it is still fresh in their minds.

It is also essential to bear in mind that there are strict time limits imposed by law which apply to these cases, and you may be prevented from bringing your claim at all if certain steps are not taken before that time limit expires.


What is the time limit?

For most personal injury claims, you must ensure that your claim is brought within three years of the date of the accident. This is also known as the “limitation period”, and limitation is said to expire (in most cases) on the third anniversary of the accident. There are exceptions and there can be factual arguments as to when limitation began to run, so it is important that you speak with a specialist solicitor, as early as possible so that any uncertainty about limitation can be properly investigated well ahead of any deadlines.


What steps need to be taken for my claim to be made within the time limit?

It is not enough to simply notify the other side (“The Defendant”) of your accident. In order for your claim to be brought within the limitation period, your solicitor will need to begin the formal litigation process by issuing your claim at court . Once your claim is issued, there are a number of important procedural steps which need to be taken which can be complicated and confusing to the lay person.


What happens if I miss the time limit?

The Court has discretion to extend limitation but only in rather exceptional circumstances and where there is very good reason for having missed the deadline. In the worst-case scenario, missing the deadline could mean that your claim is struck out entirely and you would not be permitted to seek compensation from the Defendant. Instructing a solicitor early on can help avoid this happening.

It is possible to agree an extension to the limitation period with the Defendant before the time limit expires. This can often happen where medical treatment is ongoing or where settlement negotiations are close to a conclusion. However, it is certainly not a given and it is only possible if both sides agree by consent so it is safer to assume that there will be no extension to the three-year deadline.


Are there any exceptions?

There are exceptions in certain circumstances, which include:-

1. Claims for children (i.e. those under the age of 18)

Claims can be made on behalf of children who have suffered injury by their parents or guardians. A claim can be made on their behalf immediately but the three-year time limit does not begin to run until their 18th birthday and it does not expire until their 21st birthday, regardless of the date that the accident happened.


2. Claims for those without mental capacity

For those who lack mental capacity, either because of life-changing injuries they have suffered or for other reasons, the three-year limitation period does not run at all unless and until they regain capacity. Being supported by a specialist and experienced solicitor when making a claim on behalf of someone without mental capacity is very important because it is essential to ascertain the injured person’s capacity early on and keep it under review.


3. Criminal injury claims (known as CICA claims)

If you have been injured as a result of a violent crime, you might be able to make an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), but you only have two years to do so from the date of the crime. This can run along a compensation claim against the Defendant but, if you are awarded a sum from CICA, you will be expected to give credit for it.


4. Fatal claims

If you wish to make a claim on behalf of a loved one who has sadly died because of an accident, you typically have three years to do so from the date they died (rather than the date of the accident itself).


5. Other

There are other exemptions which govern injuries sustained from accidents abroad as well as on ships and flights. Generally speaking, the limitation period is often shorter so it is essential that you seek legal advice as early as possible to avoid your claim being struck out.

These issues can be complex and if you have suffered a life-changing injury, it is crucial that you are supported by suitably experienced and specialised polytrauma solicitors as early on in your claim as possible so that nothing is missed.

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