The UK network of specialist serious injury solicitors supporting people after life-changing injury

Time limits for making a claim


How long do I have to make a claim following serious or life changing injury?

Major Trauma Group provide answers the question "how long do I have to make a claim following a serious or life changing injury?"

When a road traffic collision or accident occurs, and injury is sustained, it may be possible to bring a claim against the person responsible.  However, it is important to note that time limits apply.

These time limits are set under section 11 of the Limitation Act (1980).  Generally, someone has 3 years from the date of injury, or the date of knowledge, in which to commence Court proceedings, known as the limitation period.  However, there are exceptions to this, most commonly for minors, those injured in a violent assault, and accidents abroad.

Date of knowledge

In many circumstances the date of knowledge is the same as the date on which the injury was sustained.  However, in some instances, mostly frequently relevant in clinical negligence claims, it may not always be immediately obvious that the injury is the result of negligent medical care.  The date of knowledge is therefore defined as when a claimant first had knowledge of all of the following:

  • That the injury in question was significant (they would reasonably have considered it serious enough to justify bringing legal proceedings against the defendant);
  • That the injury was wholly or partly attributable to an act or failing on the defendant’s part;
  • Of the defendant’s identity; and
  • Of the identity of that person and any relevant additional facts, if it is alleged that someone caused the injury other than the defendant.


If a child suffers injury prior to their 18th birthday, the 3 year limitation period does not start until their 18th birthday, although claims may be commenced prior to their 18th birthday, via a litigation friend who would act on their behalf.

Accidents abroad

Another exception to the 3-year limitation period, includes accidents abroad or whilst travelling on an airplane, boat, or international train.  If you suffer serious injury in any of these circumstances, you should seek advice from a solicitor as early as possible regarding the limitation period that will apply.

Violent assaults

Injuries sustained in an unprovoked violent assault are brought via the Government funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and a 2-year time limit apples to these types of claims.

Mental capacity

For those who are assessed as lacking the mental capacity to make decisions by themselves, there is no time limit for bringing a claim and claims are generally brought by a litigation friend acting on their behalf.  However, if they regain mental capacity, the three-year time limit starts from the date mental capacity is regained.

What happens if I do not commence my claim within the prescribed time limit?

If a claim is not commenced within the limitation period, then it will be deemed time or statute barred.  In these circumstances it is not usually possible to bring a claim for compensation for your injuries at that time or at any point in the future.

However, whilst it is quite uncommon for a Court to override a limitation period, it is possible.  When deciding whether to do so, a Court will consider:

  • the length and reason for any delay
  • whether the delay will have an impact on the evidence available
  • the defendant’s behaviour since the incident occurred and how they have responded to reasonable requests for information
  • the duration of any disability suffered by the claimant
  • the steps taken by the injured party to obtain medical, legal, and other expert advice and to act on this advice.
Typically, you have three years from the date of injury or knowledge to make a claim.
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When should I seek advice?

If you have suffered serious or life changing injuries in a road traffic collision or accident which was not your fault, we would advise speaking to a specialist major trauma lawyer as early as possible following your injuries.  Instructing a lawyer to act for you at an early stage could provide you with access to early rehabilitation, support services and potentially an interim payment.

About Major Trauma Group

Major Trauma Group is a not-for-profit community interest company which is made up of a network of law firms who assist people following serious and life changing injuries.  We focus on arranging rehabilitation for the injured person and work alongside medical professionals to ensure that clients receive the best possible advice to enable them to rebuild their life following major trauma injury.

How can we help?

If you have suffered serious or life changing injuries in an accident which was not your fault, we can offer you a free, no obligation chat with a qualified legal professional, to see whether there is an opportunity to bring a claim for injuries suffered.

Contact us

Email us at, complete a contact form on our website, or call us on 0330 311 2578 and we’ll arrange for someone to call you back at a convenient time.

Struggling after injury?
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Struggling after injury?
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Who are the serious injury solicitors of Major Trauma Group, and how can they help me?

Who are the serious injury solicitors of Major Trauma Group, and how can they help me?

Serious injury? Get in touch to see if you can make a compensation claim

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