Personal Injury Claim Lawyers

Time Limits for Personal Injury Claims

All types of personal injury claims have a limitation period, meaning there is a set time within which you can bring a claim (formally start your claim at court). Once this timeframe passes, you lose your right to claim. The general time limit for making a personal injury claim is three years from the date of the accident or date of diagnosis for an illness.

How long after an accident do I have to make a personal injury claim?

The most common claim in a personal injury case is negligence, which has a time limit of three years. This means that court proceedings must be issued within three years of you first being aware that you have suffered an injury, or from the date of diagnosis for an illness.

There are strict time limits that dictate how long you have to make a personal injury claim following an injury or illness. If those limits are missed for any reason, you could lose out on the compensation you need to deal with the consequences of your accident. It’s very important that you don’t wait too long before starting your claim.

Can I claim for an accident after three years?

The court can extend the three-year time limit, but this is rare and generally needs an extremely good reason. It’s safer to assume there will be no extension to the time limit so you should start your claim as soon as possible after your accident.

There are some cases where the severity of your injuries left you unable to make a claim for more than three years. In these circumstances, the three-year time limit doesn’t start until you’re deemed to be able to claim.

Some diseases, such as mesothelioma (caused by asbestos exposure), take decades to develop. The NHS states that it can take 20 to 30 years after being exposed to asbestos before symptoms of Asbestosis appear. The time limit for making a disease-related compensation claim is typically three years from the date of diagnosis, rather than three years from the date of exposure.

Are there any exceptions to the three-year personal injury time limit?

There are a few exceptions to the limitation period:

  • Claims on behalf of children - these can be made at any point before the child’s 18th birthday, or they can make their own claim up to three years after their 18th birthday.
  • Criminal injury claims - the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) handles cases of violent crime, and they set a time limit of two years after the incident.
  • Fatal claims - you have three years from the date of death to make a claim, or three years from the date you found out from a post-mortem conducted that an accident or illness was the cause of death.
  • Mental capacity - there are no time limits when making a claim on behalf of someone who doesn’t have the ability to handle their own case.
  • International flights - you have two years to make a claim from your arrival at your final destination. This includes accidents that occur once you have passed through passport control.
  • Domestic flights - you have to claim within two years of the flight landing.
  • Accidents on board ships - on a cruise liner or ferry, you’ll usually have two years from the date you left the ship to make a claim. On board cargo ships, it is two years from the date of your injury.

Are time limits different based on the type of accident?

No, the same rules will apply no matter what type of accident or injury caused your injury or illness. For example, if you’re wondering how long after a car accident you can claim, it’ll be three years, the same as the work injury claim time limit.

Does my claim need to finish within the time limit?

The time limit is for you to register your claim with the court. Depending on the complexity of your case, and the severity of your injuries, it may not be possible to finish your clam within three years. As long as you have registered your case with the court within the time limit, known as “issuing proceedings”, there’s no need to worry.

What happens if I don’t claim compensation within the time limit?

If you fail to make a claim for compensation within the three-year period, your claim will be ‘statute-barred’ or ‘time-barred’. This means that the three-year ‘statute of limitations’ for making a personal injury claim has expired. If a claimant is statute-barred, legal action can no longer be taken against another party. The claimant usually has no other means of claiming compensation.

Do no win no fee claims have a different time frame?

No, whether or not your case is taken on a no win no fee basis has no bearing on how long after an accident you can file a claim. The term ‘no win no fee personal injury claims’ refers purely to how your claim will be funded, and is the common way of making a personal injury claim.