In general, you must start your personal injury claim within three years of the date of your accident. This time limit is imposed by the Limitation Act 1980. The reason for the three year limit is that as time passes, people’s memories fade. Also, any documentation relating to the incident may have been lost or destroyed. This makes it more difficult to determine the facts of the case if it ends up having to go to court.
It is important to note the three-year limit refers to taking legal action rather than simply taking advice on whether you have a valid claim. If you are thinking of making a claim it is advisable to start earlier rather than later, as you will need to do some preparation before starting legal action. There are a few exceptions to the three year limit for past injury compensation claims:
- Claims where the injured person is under 18 years old
- Claims where the injured person suffers from mental incapacity
- Medical negligence claims
- Claims for industrial diseases
Past injury compensation claims for young people and those who suffer from mental incapacity
The three-year time limit applies to people who are under 18 years old on the date of their accident, but it does not start running until their 18th birthday.
For people with mental incapacity, the three year time period may never start to run, and they may be able to make a claim at any point in the future. If, however, they regain mental capacity, the three-year time period starts to run and they may lose their right to make a claim if they do not act in time.
Medical negligence claims
The three-year time limit applies to medical negligence, but rather than running from the date of the accident, it runs from the date the claimant learns about his condition, when he has the knowledge and medical facts required to bring legal action.
Some medical negligence cases result in injury that is not immediately apparent, so this can include the date that the claimant became aware of their injury. It can also be the date that the claimant became aware that their injury had been caused by medical negligence rather than something else.
Claims for industrial diseases
The three-year time limit applies to claims for industrial diseases, but like medical negligence claims, it only starts to run once the claimant knows what is required to bring legal action. This means the date that the claimant was diagnosed with the disease and became aware that the cause of the disease was someone else’s negligence.
How do you make past injury compensation claims?
It is important to take action as soon as possible. First take the unique 30-second test on the Accident Advice Helpline (AAH) website to find out if you have a valid claim. Accident Advice Helpline has hundreds of solicitors across the UK specialising in past injury compensation claims and will be able to help you on a no win, no fee* basis. Give our team a call on their freephone numbers 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile.