How long do I have to make a personal injury claim?
If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, any subsequent claim for compensation must be made within certain time limits. These time limits are defined by the Limitation Act 1980 and apply to all types of personal injury claims, including accidents at work, road accidents, cases of medical negligence and industrial illnesses.
The general rule for most accident claims is that they must be made within three years from the date of the accident. If this three year period comes to an end before you initiate legal proceedings, you would, under most circumstances, no longer be eligible to make a claim. These cases are then referred to as being time-barred or statute barred.
The date of knowledge
In some cases, an injury or illness caused by a negligent act or omission might not become apparent until a later date. For example, a person negligently exposed to asbestos at work might develop mesothelioma many years after this exposure occurred. In these circumstances, there is still a three-year time limit, but this countdown does not start until the date that the claimant is first medically diagnosed with the illness. This is known as the ‘date of knowledge‘.
Cases of medical negligence are another area where the date of knowledge may come into play. The date of knowledge in cases of medical negligence is usually the date when it is confirmed that the actions or inactions of a medical practitioner caused your injury or illness.
As a general rule, if you have suffered from an injury or illness and you believe that somebody else was at fault, speak to an experienced solicitor as soon as possible after the accident. They will be able to provide you with the advice you need and ensure that you don’t miss out on claiming compensation that is rightfully yours.
Time limits for accidents involving children
If you are under the age of 18 years old at the time of your accident or illness, the rules regarding time limits for making a compensation claim are slightly different. There is still the standard three-year time limit, but this does not begin until the date you turn 18. So if you are injured in a bicycle accident when you are 14 years old for example, the time limit for making a personal injury claim would start on your 18th birthday, and end on your 21st birthday.
If you are the parent or guardian of a child that has been injured in an accident, you can initiate a claim on their behalf before they turn 18. Any compensation awarded to the child in these circumstances would be held in trust by the court until he or she reaches legal maturity on their 18th birthday.
Time limiting for claiming criminal injury compensation
If you are injured due to an assault or other criminal act, you may be eligible to make a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). With these cases, the time limit for making a claim is two years from the date that the criminal act took place.