If you have suffered a personal injury and are considering making a claim for compensation, there are likely to be time restrictions applicable that you need to be aware of. As a rule of thumb, you have three years from the date of injury to bring court proceedings or sue the individual or organisation responsible for your personal injury. This three year time frame is known as the ‘limitation period’. If you miss this deadline, your claim will become ‘time-barred’ or ‘statute-barred’. It is very difficult to bring a claim for personal injury once the three years have elapsed.
However, as with every rule, there are exceptions. For example, if you did not immediately know about the injury, then the three years will not start until you became aware that the injury was related to the original accident or exposure. This is called the ‘date of knowledge’. This rule is particularly relevant to asbestos claims, where there may be many years between exposure and development of the condition complained of – for example mesothelioma.
Claims involving injuries to children have a slightly different time period again. In these cases, the limitation period does not start until the child’s 18th birthday. Until this date children are treated as being under a ‘legal disability’.
The same logic applies to patients being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983, who are deemed to be suffering under a ‘disability of unsound mind’. As with children, this categorisation deems the patient unable to manage and administer property and personal affairs. Once the patient ceases to be under the disability, the limitation period starts to run.
If an individual dies during the course of the three years, the clock is reset to the date of death, or the date that the death was linked to the injury or condition. If a claim was ongoing at the date of death, the limitation period restarts from the date of death.
For criminal injuries compensation claims, individuals have two years from the incident to make a claim against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund. However, they also have the option of bringing a claim against the perpetrator of the violence that caused the injury, in which case the limitation period is six years from the date of the incident, or if involving a child, six years from the child’s 18th birthday.
In addition to the time limits outlined briefly above, there are further different time limits for other special situations, such as plane crashes or sexual abuse compensation claims.
If you have suffered a personal injury and are worried that you may have run out of time to bring a claim, or simply want more information about the time limits involved in making a claim, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist personal injury lawyers. Our team can tell you quickly what the time limits are for your particular circumstances and discuss with you your options regarding making a claim.