Is there a time limit for bringing a claim following an accident?

Partner Iona Smith

Partner Iona Smith discusses time limits for claims resulting from accidents.

The Limitation Act 1980 sets time frames within which Claimants are entitled to bring claims of various types.  This means that claims must be started in the Courts before the deadline otherwise the claim cannot be pursued. The reason behind the time limit is to prevent defendants having to investigate historic claims where evidence may no longer be available and witnesses unable to recall events.

In relation to personal injury claims the ordinary deadline is three years from the date of the accident.  There are some very limited exceptions to this, including if a claimant dies before the expiry of the period, in which case the limitation period will be three years from the date of death.  

In relation to claims for personal injury arising from medical negligence, the three year clock starts ticking from the date that the claimant first become aware that they had a potential claim which can often be more than three years after the incident itself.  

There are at present only very limited exceptions where a Judge would be prepared to extend the three year time limit.  It is essential therefore that if you believe you have a claim for personal injury arising from an accident or from medical negligence, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.  For a case to be issued at Court within the three year time frame requires a lot of preliminary work including obtaining medical notes and undertaking investigations into how the accident occurred to see if negligence can be established.  

As well as completing the Court claim form, it is also essential to have a medical report outlining the injuries caused by the negligence and a schedule of out of pocket losses so that the value of the claim can be calculated at the correct level. Obtaining these documents can be a lengthy process so it is important that you seek advice from a solicitor as soon as possible after you have been injured.  

A serious injury can have devastating effects on the life of the injured person as well as their family and friends.  Often the thought of starting the legal process can be daunting and cause additional psychological strain at an already difficult time. 

At Gaby Hardwicke we can guide you through the process with care and compassion ensuring that the legal process runs as smoothly as possible.  Our Personal Injury Team can help establish whether you are likely to have a claim. Please contact Iona Smith for further details.

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