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Time Limit for Personal Injury Claims

In 1980 a time limit for personal injury claims was introduced under the UK Limitation Act. Generally, potential claimants have a three-year time limit in which to make claims for personal injury compensation, but frequently there are exceptions to this. Consequently it is beneficial to contact a solicitor to establish that you are within the personal injury claims time limit.

A time limit for personal injury claims was introduced for two reasons, to ensure compensation claims are made when evidence of liability is most recent and to protect defendants from the constant fear of litigation.

When does the Time Limit for Personal Injury Claims Begin?

The time limit for making a personal injury claim begins on the day you first become aware of your injury and most frequently this will be on the day of an accident. It is important that you seek medical attention for your injuries immediately, not only from a health point of view but also to ensure the defendant cannot contest your personal injury claim on the grounds that the injury was not serious enough for you to seek medical attention immediately.

Naturally there are exceptions. An industrial disease may not make itself known for several years nor an injury sustained due to medical negligence. In this instance the ‘Date of Knowledge’ or ‘Date of Discovery’ is the date on which your injury or illness is first diagnosed and the three year personal injury claims time limit begins from this date.

Exceptions to the Personal Injury Claims Time Limit in the UK

There are several instances where the time limit for making a personal injury claim is subject to change. Generally this occurs where there is a belief the claimant is not capable of supporting the claim, when special circumstances occur or where there is a conflict with other legislation. Beneath are examples where the common time limit for personal injury claims does not apply.

The Montreal and Athens Conventions

The time limit to make a claim for injuries sustained in an airplane or at sea is covered by the Montreal Convention (1999) and the Athens Convention (1974).

The Conventions reduce the time limit for injury claims to two years and it applies to any country you are travelling to or from which has ratified them including the UK.

Conflicts with the Consumer Protection Act

When making a claim for an injury sustained due to a faulty product you purchased, the regular three-year time limit for making a personal injury claim applies; provided the product has been in market circulation for less than ten years.

However, if you sustained your injury due to a fault with the product nine years after the product was first introduced to the UK, you would only have one year left in which to make a personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Claims for Children

A child is not allowed make a personal injury claim until they reach the age of eighteen. In this case the time limit for making a personal injury claim does not commence until then. A parent or guardian can make a personal injury claim on the child’s behalf prior to the child reaching legal age.

Catastrophic Brain Injury and the Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act (1983) stipulates that a claimant must have the mental capacity to take legal action. If a victim were left in a coma following an accident, the time limit for making a claim will not begin until it is acknowledged by a medical professional that they have regained cognitive ability.

If they never regain the mental capacity to take legal action, a ‘Litigation Friend’ can make a claim on their behalf.

Extensions to the Time Limit for Injury Claims

A UK court can enact a ‘Standstill Agreement’ in special circumstances which effectively stops the clock prior to a claim being made, extending the time a claimant has. All parties must first agree on the action.

Time Limit for Personal Injury Claims — Summary

Two or three years may seem like ample time to prepare a personal injury claim, however it is advised you begin the process immediately once you are aware of your personal injury as the process can take time.

It is best practice to speak with an injury claims solicitor as soon as possible as there are a lot of exceptions to the time limit for personal injury claims, and a solicitor will be able to advise you whether you are within the time limit to make a claim for injuries sustained in an accident for which you were totally at fault.