How Long Have I Got To Pursue A Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury actions are governed by the Limitation Act 1980. Briefly, this means that Court proceedings must be issued within three years from the date you were injured (the accident) or the date you had knowledge that your injury was caused by the Defendant to your action.
If the claim is not issued at Court within the three-year time limit then your claim is likely to be barred and you will not be able to make a claim.
In certain personal injury cases, typically where the claimant has contracted a disease alleged to result from work conditions but there was no accident as such, you will have three years from your ‘date of knowledge’ in which to bring a claim. Your date of knowledge is defined as the date which you knew or suspected you had a significant condition and you attributed that condition to your work.
This knowledge can be actual, i.e. the date you were told by a medical expert you were suffering from this condition, or it can be constructive, i.e. the knowledge you could have obtained by making reasonable enquiries or from information readily available to you from relevant experts.
In certain circumstances the court has the discretion to extend the three-year limitation period but it is best practice to issue the claim in good time and avoid having to seek the courts discretion to override the three-year limitation period.
The ordinary three-year time limits also do not apply where the person is either:
- A protected party- a person who lacks mental capacity to make certain decisions for himself, or
- A person under the age of 18In the case of the person lacking capacity, the limitation period will not start to run for the duration of the disability. In the case of a person under the age of 18, limitation will start to run only from their 18th birthday.
Limitation law can be very complicated and calculating the correct limitation for a claim is often not straight forward, especially where the precise date of the injury is hard to determine because although the injury may have happened many years ago, the claimant has only recently realised that they have suffered an injury. This is often the case in industrial disease claims such as Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.
As a result, it is therefore essential that you seek legal advice as soon as possible following any accident or knowledge that you have suffered an injury.