The statute of limitations: UK personal injury claims time limits
Do you want to make a claim after an accident or injury that wasn’t your fault, but aren’t sure how long you have to make it? Here’s everything you need to know about the personal injury claims time limit in the UK.
What is the statute of limitations in the UK for personal injuries?
Sometimes, when you’re eligible to make a compensation claim, you may not be ready to pursue it straight away. Of course, this may lead you to worry about exactly how long you have to make your personal injury claim.
Fortunately, UK law has safeguards in place to ensure that there is a reasonable timeframe in place within which you can make your claim.
This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. UK law incorporated its use as part of the Limitation Act established in 1980. It serves two purposes:
- To ensure all evidence gathered for personal injury cases is as recent as possible.
- To protect defendants against persistent fear of litigation.
The personal injury claims time limit in the UK is set at a three-year maximum, however, there are exceptions to the rule. If you’re unsure whether your personal injury claim falls under the normal personal injury claim time limit in the UK, it’s best to speak to a personal injury lawyer at the first possible opportunity. We work with expert panels of solicitors and lawyers, so we can help you find the right solicitor for you.
When does the limitation on personal injury claims take effect?
Typically, your personal injury claims time limit will begin from the moment you first become aware of your injuries or illness. In most instances, this will be the date on which your injury was suffered.
However, as the symptoms of many medical conditions, such as industrial diseases, can take months or even years to manifest themselves, the potential start date for your personal injury claim time limit can vary.
It’s important to note that you should seek medical attention as soon as you discover your injury or illness. Not only will this ensure timely treatment for serious cases, but it will also ensure that your claim for compensation is unimpeded by accusations that you contributed to your own condition by failing to have it treated in time.
Exceptions to the UK limitation on personal injury claims
As mentioned, there are a few exceptions when it comes to particular cases of personal injury. These adjustments to the UK personal injury claims time limit often occur due to a claim conflicting with other legislation, or instances in which a claimant is unable to support their claim for one reason or another.
If your injury or illness falls into one of the following categories, your personal injury limitation may potentially differ from the standard three years.
The Athens and Montreal Conventions
The Athens and the Montreal Conventions (1974) are a specific set of rules that dictate the personal injury claims time limit someone injured at sea or on board an aeroplane has to make their claim.
These conventions apply to those who are residents of the UK and in other countries in which they have been ratified. They actually reduce the personal injury claim time limit of a claimant to two years rather than three. Therefore, if you were injured in one of these settings, you should look to pursue your claim as soon as possible.
It is important to note that this does not apply to any injury or illness suffered aboard. In these cases, you’ll need to speak to a solicitor for advice on how to pursue your claim.
Personal injury claims time limits that conflict with the Consumer Protection Act
In the cases where personal injury claims conflict with the Consumer Protection Act, injuries caused by a product you purchased may be claimed within three years from the injury date, provided that the product has been available in the UK for less than ten years.
The longer a product has been in circulation without recall, the lower the personal injury claim time limit in the UK. For example, if you were to sustain an injury because of a product nine years after it was released onto the market, you would only have one year in which to claim public liability compensation.
Personal injury claims time limits for personal injury claims involving children
Individuals under the age of eighteen are not legally allowed to pursue a compensation claim or instruct a solicitor when pursuing a personal injury claim. Thus, the personal injury claim time limit in the UK of three years cannot be applied.
However, a parent or guardian may initiate a claim on behalf of a child before they reach adulthood, in which case, you will still have three years to make the claim.
Alternatively, an under-aged individual can wait until they are old enough to pursue a claim on their own. In this scenario, the limitation on personal injury claims would begin from the moment they turned eighteen.
What is the statute of limitations in the UK under the Mental Health Act or after suffering catastrophic brain injury?
Under the UK Mental Health Act (1983), a claimant must possess the cognitive ability in order to be able to pursue a claim for compensation.
If an accident victim is left comatose by an accident, has reduced cognitive ability, or has suffered irreparable trauma to the brain, the time limit imposed by the UK Statute of Limitations for personal injuries is paused until the person regains the mental capacity to be able to pursue a claim.
However, if a person is unable to regain their cognitive ability due to a serious injury, a claim can be made on their behalf by a Litigation Friend under the standard three-year limit.
Are there extensions for the standard personal injury claims time limits?
In certain special circumstances, an individual pursuing a personal injury claim may be granted an extension on their personal injury time limit in the UK. However, these extensions to the UK Statute of Limitations for personal injuries may only be granted by a court.
There is also what’s known as the concept of a “Standstill Agreement”, which effectively stops the clock on claims for a set period of time. But the use of this measure must be agreed upon by all parties beforehand in order for it to be implemented.
Using the statute of limitations in the UK
Considering the implications the UK Statute of Limitations for personal injuries may have on your claim for compensation, you should always seek to pursue your claim as soon as possible.
Although two or three years may seem like ample time in which to pursue personal injury claims, preparing a compensation claim can sometimes be a long and complex process, so starting your claim as soon as possible will give you the best possible chance of success.
As mentioned above, several instances exist in which the time limit for claims in the UK can be reduced or extended. For this reason, it’s imperative that you speak with a personal injury claims solicitor about the time limit on compensation claims in the UK and the impact it may have on your claim.
If you’re looking to get started on making your personal injury claim, you can get in touch with our experts today at a time of your choosing. Here at The Compensation Experts, our team works with qualified solicitors with years of experience handling personal injury claims.