Privacy Policy & Cookies

Road Accident Claims Work Accident Claims Asbestos Exposure Claims Industrial Disease Claims Head and Brain Injury Claims Medical Negligence Claims Surgical Error Claims Travel Accident Claims Military Accident Claims Personal Injury Claims

How much?

FAQ

PI Information

Our PI Lawyers

0800 783 90190800 783 9019
0330 333 56560330 333 5656
Claim OnlineClaim Online
Text ACCIDENT to 82010 now, standard network rates applyText ACCIDENT to 82010
Network of offices throughout the UKVisit our UK offices

We'll call you back

Leave your details and we will call you back between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday

Name:

Best contact no:

Best contact time:


Home > Information and Advice > Time limits for personal injury compensation claims

Time limits for personal injury compensation claims

Personal injury advice on limitation periods

Strict time limits apply for making a personal injury claim. Known as the limitation period, the standard period for commencing proceedings to bring an accident claim for compensation is three-years. Failure to commence a court action within that three-year period means that the claim for personal injury compensation becomes time-barred, or statute barred, preventing you from claiming your rightful compensation.

For more information on various limitation periods please select one of the links below:

Clear Answers' experience of limitation periods

Although the three-year period normally starts from the date of the accident or injury, there are exceptions to this, depending on the nature of the accident or personal injury, and sometimes the circumstances of the injured person. These exceptions mean that the three-year period may start some time after the actual accident or injury.

The rules surrounding these various limitation periods and exceptions can be complex. It is vital that if you think you may be entitled to claim accident compensation you seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to prevent your personal injury compensation claim becoming time-barred before you can start proceedings.

Please contact Clear Answers on 0800 783 9019 to speak to one of our representatives about your claim for personal injury compensation, or complete our online compensation claim form and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.

Different rules may apply if your claim is pursued outside the Courts of England and Wales. Please go to our Costs and Risks section for more detailed information on these and how Clear Answers will handle your claim and funding.

We have in-depth knowledge of all the limitations which apply to all types of personal injury compensation claims and will be happy to discuss whether your claim is still within the limitation period.

[ Back to top ]

Accident compensation limitation period

The time limit which applies to the vast majority of personal injury accident claims is three years. The three-year period will normally start from the date of the accident, whether this is, for example, a road traffic accident, an accident at work or any slip, trip or fall on public or private property. This limitation period will also cover injuries caused as a result of exposure to harmful substances, or the development of an industrial disease such as vibration white finger, or asbestos-related diseases.

In disease cases, the three-year period will start from the date that you knew, or are deemed to know, that you have developed symptoms, the condition or the disease. This may be the date that the symptoms began or became apparent, or it might be the date that the condition is diagnosed or suspected by you or others, such as medical advisers. The time limit may run from the earliest of these various dates.

If you are assaulted, there is a two-year time limit, from the date of the incident, in which one should lodge a claim with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency ( C.I.C.A). If you miss this time limit, the CICA may not be willing to consider your application if it is made late. However, it would still be worth at least asking as soon as possible for the matter to be considered, albeit outside the relevant time limit.

[ Back to list ]

Contractual disputes

Where there is no personal injury and it is a contractual dispute, the limitation period may be up to six years. Different time limits apply so always seek expert legal advice as soon as you believe you may have a valid claim.

[ Back to list ]

Exceptions to the three-year limitation period

Although the three-year limitation period will apply to all types of accident compensation claims, there may be exceptions governed by the circumstances of the accident, or the injured person’s situation.

The court, in rare circumstances, might be persuaded to exercise its discretion to allow the matter to proceed outside these time limits but this is always unpredictable and rarely granted.

If you are assaulted, there is a two-year time limit, from the date of the incident, in which one should lodge a claim with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency ( C.I.C.A). If you miss this time limit, the CICA may not be willing to consider your application if it is made late. However, it would still be worth at least asking as soon as possible for the matter to be considered, albeit outside the relevant time limit.

[ Back to list ]

Date of knowledge

This is the date that the Court will say that you knew or ought to have known that you had developed injury as a result of the wrongdoing of others. This is often simple to determine if there is an obvious accident and injury on a specific date. Some conditions and diseases can be more difficult because the injury may not be readily visible, or may have a very slow or obscure rate and mode of development.

Therefore, the date of knowledge can be the date that symptoms began. Equally, it can be the date that you suspected that injury had developed or if not suspected, the date that a medical diagnosis or opinion is given to you.

If you had sought medical treatment following your accident and were advised that your injury was minor, only to find some time later that the injury had in fact been more serious all along, then the three-year period would start from the original start of the symptoms or the date that the injury was linked to your accident, referred to as the date of knowledge.

Injuries to children under eighteen

If you were injured through the negligence of another person whilst you were still a minor, or under eighteen years of age, the three-year limitation period would not start until your 18th birthday. This means that you must commence court proceedings before your 21st birthday to prevent your claim becoming time-barred.

Mental Health Act 1983

If you were under a prior mental disability, and were being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983 at the time of your accident or injury, the three-year period would not commence until the date at which you were discharged as a patient, or the disability ceased. You would still need to commence court proceedings within three years of your date of discharge or the date that your disability ended, whichever is the earlier, to prevent it becoming time-barred.

In the event that, as a result of an accident, the injuries were such that the injured person was rendered immediately mentally incapable, the three-year period would start when the mental disability ceased.

If you believe the injured person may be suffering a mental disability as a result of the injury, it is important that you seek expert legal advice as this can be a very complex and problematic area.

Clear Answers have in-depth knowledge of this complex area of limitation and will be happy to answer all your questions regarding time limits for making a personal injury compensation claim in these circumstances. Please ring us on 0800 783 9019 to speak to one of our representatives, or fill in one of our on-line compensation claim forms and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.

Court's discretion

In very exceptional circumstances, the Court may override the standard three-year limitation period in accident and injury cases, which is entirely at their discretion.

[ Back to list ]

Limitation periods for fatal accident victims

In cases resulting in a fatality, the family of the victim are able to bring a claim for accident or disease compensation on behalf of the deceased. Sometimes the victim may already have begun to make a claim for personal injury before they succumb to their injuries. As long as the three-year period has not expired during the lifetime of the victim, the family may continue the claim for compensation after the death of the victim, on their behalf. In these circumstances, the limitation period would begin at the date of death.

[ Back to list ]

Limitation periods for victims suffering serious injury

The usual limitation period would apply for victims who suffer serious injuries. If the victim is unable physically to deal with the claim themselves, because of the extent of their injury, the family may bring a claim on their behalf and the three-year limitation period would apply from the date of the accident, or the date at which their injuries were known to be the result of the accident.

[ Back to list ]

Limitation periods for asbestos-related diseases

Asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis or asbestos-related lung cancer, may not develop until many years after you were negligently exposed to asbestos.

The limitation period for bringing a personal injury claim for an asbestos-related disease is still three years. However, in the case of an asbestos-related disease, the limitation period begins not at the time when you were exposed to asbestos, but at the time at which your symptoms began or the disease is diagnosed and is linked to your exposure to asbestos. The diagnosis is typically confirmed by a qualified doctor, for example, a chest consultant. However. it may even be suspected or suggested by a general practitioner or yourself and the Court will look at all circumstances to determine the start of the limitation period.

[ Back to list ]

Limitation periods for deceased victims of asbestos-related diseases

Because of the devastating speed with which asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma can claim the life of its victim once the disease has been diagnosed, there are situations where a claim has been started by the victim, but they sadly die before the claim can be completed. Tragically, in some cases, the victim may die before they are able to commence a claim for personal injury compensation.

In these situations, the three-year time limit will start from the date of the death so that the family may make a claim for asbestos-related compensation on behalf of the deceased. However, this is only possible where the three-year period has not already expired during the lifetime of the victim.

Frequently, the person exposed to asbestos may die without a diagnosis and the cause of death from an asbestos-related disease is only confirmed by a post-mortem examination. In these circumstances, the family of the deceased would be able to commence a claim for asbestos-related compensation on behalf of the deceased. The limitation period would start possibly at the date of death or at the date at which the cause of death is confirmed by post-mortem.

Because of the extended period over which the asbestos-related disease may develop, it is possible to make personal injury claims relating to incidents or periods of exposure dating back decades.

Clear Answers' solicitors have won landmark cases in the highest courts for asbestos-related diseases and have a proven track record of fighting for victims’ rightful compensation.

Please contact us to discuss your asbestos-related compensation claim on 0800 783 9019 to speak to one of our representatives, or complete our online compensation claim form and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.

[ Back to list ]

Limitation periods for industrial diseases and exposure to harmful substances

In addition to asbestos-related diseases, there are many other industrial diseases that can develop through exposure to harmful substances or through the use of equipment or tools. These diseases include, for example, vibration white finger, hearing loss, dermatitis or asthma caused by exposure to harmful substances, liquids and chemicals such as latex, trichloroethylene, oils, detergents, dusts, chemicals and liquids and many other substances.

Of course you may also suffer as a result of exposure to harmful substances outside the workplace. Whatever the circumstances of your injury or exposure, you may be able to make a claim. Exposures to chemicals and toxic substances can take place in the environment. Fumes may be invisible and odourless so there may be delay and difficulty in appreciating what has happened.

The limitation period for bringing a personal injury claim for an industrial disease or having been exposed to hazardous substances is still three years from the date that you knew or ought to have known that you have developed injury as a result of a harmful exposure. Some diseases do not become apparent immediately, such as asbestos related diseases which can develop 20 – 40 years after the original exposure.

Some conditions such as asthma may be mistaken immediately for just chestiness or flu. Therefore, the 3-year limitation period may begin at the time at which your symptoms began or the disease is diagnosed and / or  is linked to your working environment or the source of your exposure.

The diagnosis is typically confirmed by a qualified doctor, although it may even be suspected or suggested by a general practitioner or yourself. The Court will look at all circumstances to determine the start of the limitation period. The Court expects an injured person to make reasonable enquiries when symptoms become apparent to determine the nature and cause of the disease. This can lead to arguments that the 3-year period begins to run when a reasonable enquiry would have informed the victim that a disease had developed.

It is important therefore to seek medical help as soon as possible and to consult a specialist solicitor as soon as there is any suspicion whatsoever that you may have developed an industrial disease.

The Court can, in very rare circumstances, exercise discretion to allow the claim to proceed after the 3-year period has expired. So even if you think this has happened, it is wise to immediately seek legal help from a specialist solicitor who can give you guidance on this.

[ Back to list ]

Limitation periods for medical negligence claims

A claim for medical negligence compensation is governed by the standard accident compensation limitation period of three-years. However, the exceptions listed above, such as injuries affecting children under 18 and people being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983 still apply, as would the possibility that the Court might apply discretion in exceptional circumstances.

Please contact us to discuss your medical negligence compensation claim on 0800 783 9019 to speak to one of our representatives, or complete our online compensation claim form and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.

[ Back to list ]

Special arrangements for claims against the MOD

Members of the Armed Forces are in much the same position as civilians in terms of time limits for making claims for compensation arising in negligence. The same basic rule applies, which is that someone wanting to claim compensation has three years from the date of an accident to claim. If the claim isn’t resolved by the third anniversary then court proceedings have to be started by that date, otherwise it is highly likely that the claim will be out of time.

There are some special rules that apply to disease cases, such as asbestos-related diseases, and extra care is needed to pin point the date from which time begins to run and your Solicitor will discuss that with you in detail. Similarly, in clinical negligence cases the three years can sometimes run from a later date after the incident depending on when the injured person acquired the requisite knowledge about their situation. Again your Solicitor will discuss how that impacts upon your particular circumstances.

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

All of that should not be confused with the MoD’s Statutory scheme run by the Veterans Agency which is confusingly called the “Armed Forces Compensation Scheme”. The MoD were asked not to use the word “compensation” in the title as it was feared it would be confusing for injured personnel trying to work out what best to do, but they could not be persuaded and we are stuck with the confusion.

In any event, under the statutory scheme [AFCS], the basic rule is that injured personnel have seven years from the date that they sustain an injury to file a claim under the AFCS with the Veterans Agency. The scheme applies regardless of whether the injury was sustained in a conflict or not.

It is a tariff based scheme and a claim under the AFCS does not prevent someone making a claim for compensation at civil law just like civilians do. Often a civil law claim can produce much higher awards of damages than would be due under AFCS but a successful claimant at civil law would have to give credit for any award made under the AFCS. It isn’t a case of one or the other. An injured person can do both.

Your Solicitor will guide you as to your best course of action and as to the various time limits which apply in your case.

Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) Scheme

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer injury during a violent crime whilst serving abroad, you may be able to claim compensation. Please go to our page on Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) Scheme for more information.

[ Back to list ]

Accident compensation claims

If you or a member of your family has suffered a personal injury through no fault of your own, please contact Clear Answers' solicitors on 0800 783 9019 and speak to one of our representatives. Alternatively, you may wish to fill out an online compensation claim form, and one of our representatives will contact you as soon as possible to discuss whether you have a valid accident compensation claim.

Different rules may apply if your claim is pursued outside the Courts of England and Wales. Please go to our Costs and Risks section for more detailed information on these and how Clear Answers will handle your claim and funding.

Visit our information and advice section for more about making a compensation claim for personal injury, or our gathering information and evidence section for guidance on what evidence may be required to make an accident compensation claim.

[ Back to top ]

print this page