A lady sits on a chair in a waiting room looking pensive illustrating the importance of the limitation period in time limits for compensation claims

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What are the time limits for bringing a claim following an accident?

Going past the limitation period for bringing a claim following an accident can mean that you can no longer claim compensation for injuries. What is the limitation period for bringing a personal injury claim? What changes that limitation period and can it be extended?

If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault, then it is important to be aware that there is a time limit which must be followed in order to make a claim for compensation with the Court.

The time limit for making a claim is commonly known as “the Limitation Period.” The best way to think about the Limitation Period is to imagine a clock that starts running from the date of the accident.

The Limitation Period applies to all types of claims, such as road traffic accidents, accidents at work, and public liability, to name a few.

For the majority of claims, this period will be 3 years from the date of the accident.

When the Limitation Period for bringing a claim is not 3 years

It is important to note that there are occasions where the Limitation Period is not 3 years.

If the accident happened to a child, then the clock doesn’t start until they reach their 18th birthday. This effectively means they will have to make a claim by their 21st birthday.

There is no time limit to make a claim if the person who suffered the accident does not have “mental capacity“ to make a claim, perhaps, for example, if they have suffered a serious brain injury. However, if at any time, they regain their capacity, then the clock will start and they will have 3 years to make a claim from the moment they regained capacity.

If a person was a victim to a crime, then they can make an application to the CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority ) for compensation. The Limitation Period for making an application is 2 years from the date of the incident.

If you are a passenger on a boat or a plane, then you have 2 years to make a claim.

Examples when the time limit is not 3 years

If you had an accident at work on the 2nd January 2021, then you would have until 1st January 2024 to make the claim with the court. This means you have issue proceedings at the Court by that date.

If you were victim of a crime on 4th March 2021, then you would until 3rd March 2023 to make an application to the CICA.

Extending the limitation period

 Your solicitors and the Defendant’s solicitors [normally the solicitors instructed by the other party’s insurers] can jointly agree to extend the Limitation Period, providing there is sufficient reason to do so.

The Court has the discretion to extend the Limitation Period.  In order to do so, the Court will need to consider the following: –

  • The length and the reasons for the delay;
  • Whether the evidence will be affected by the extension;
  • The conduct of the defendant since the accident and whether they were helpful with requests for information;
  • The duration of any disability suffered by the injured party;
  • Whether the injured party acted swiftly and reasonably once they knew that the defendant’s negligence may give rise to a compensation claim;
  • The steps taken by the injured party to obtain medical, legal or other expert advice and the nature of any such advice they may have received.

It is not easy to persuade the Court to extend the limitation period, so don’t put yourself in a position where you have to ask, but occasionally it can’t be helped

What if a claim is not made within the limitation period?

If a claim is not lodged with the Court within the Limitation Period, then this will mean the claim is” statute barred.” This will unfortunately mean that you will no longer be able to pursue a claim for compensation, unless the court allows you to extend it, as described in previous paragraph.

Other Reasons to Act Quickly After an Accident

There are other important reasons why you should act quickly if you have been involved in an accident. These include: –

  • Suffering an accident can be a very daunting experience. Speaking with a solicitor may give you peace of mind for the litigation process;
  • Solicitors can speak with the Defendant’s solicitors to try and obtain funding for private treatment and early medical rehabilitation;
  • Your solicitor might well be able to obtain an early “interim payment “for you, so you can manage financially pending resolution of the case
  • Your memory and the memory of witnesses may fade or distort over time. It is best to speak with a solicitor whilst the memory of the accident is still fresh;
  • There is the risk that witnesses may change their contact details;
  • It is best to request information and reports early on to avoid any delays in obtaining the information; and
  • Some organisations may only hold certain information for a set period of time before erasing it. It is best to request this information early on. 

Have you been involved in an accident?

If you have been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, then it is important that you speak to a solicitor as soon as you can, to discuss your claim and the next steps.

Can Major Trauma Group help?

Major Trauma Group is a network of specialist serious injury law firms, experienced in dealing with claims following major trauma.  We can provide assistance to clients throughout England and Wales and we are supported by a medical clinician who can advise on rehabilitation, independent financial advisers and case managers who are all highly experienced in this field.

If you would like a free no-obligation chat with one of our members, please email hello@majortraumagroup.co.uk or call us on 0330 311 2578

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