If you have suffered a personal injury, you may be entitled to sue for compensation.
A question we are commonly asked is ‘how long after a personal injury can you sue?’. There are strict time limits dictated by the law which must be adhered to if you want to make a successful claim. Time limits for personal injury claims apply to the point that a claim form is issued at court, and not just the initial stages of consulting legal advice.
How long is the time limit and when does it start from?
There are a variety of answers to this depending on the circumstances. Generally, if you think you may have a personal injury claim, you can start action in court up to three years after the incident that caused your injury. This time limit begins from the date the accident or exposure took place, or from the date that you became aware the injury you have experienced was connected to the accident or exposure – this is known as the date of knowledge.
This applies when a person may not be immediately aware of the injury. For example, people that have contracted a disease from asbestos exposure may not be aware of this for many years. In a situation such as this, the time limit is extended. If the case resulted in a fatality, the time limit starts from the date of death or the date that the death was found to be related to the accident or exposure. An example of this would be the date of a post mortem.
An example – how long after a car accident can you sue?
If you have had a car accident which was not your fault and received a personal injury, under the Limitation Act 1980, you have three years from the date of the accident to bring a claim. If your injury did not start to symptoms until long after the car accident occurs, but doctors believe it was caused by the car accident, you will have three years from the date that you were informed of the causal link between your injury and the car crash.
What about injuries to those that are unable to manage their own legal affairs?
For injuries to children under the age of 18, the three-year time limit begins from the child’s 18th birthday. This means that a child that has experienced an injury under the age of 18 has until their 21st birthday to bring the case to court. A similar approach is in effect for those diagnosed with a mental disability under the Mental Health Act 1983. If this applies to an individual, the three-year time limit does not start until the disability ends which in practicality may mean that the time limit does not end up applying at all.
What about criminal injuries?
If you are addressing the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority due to an attack, assault or other violent crime, the deadline is generally two years from the incident.
Are there any other exceptions to the three year rule?
Depending on your specific set of circumstances, the answer to the question ‘how long after a personal injury can you sue?’ can differ. For example, if your injury took place outside of the U.K. this could affect the limit due to the other country’s laws. The best thing to do if you are in a situation where you feel you could make a personal injury claim is to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
For further information and guidance specific to your personal circumstances, contact us here at Russell Worth Solicitors.
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