What Is A Limitation Period & How Does It Impact My Claim?

In her latest blog, Trainee Solicitor Molly Evans, discusses what limitation periods are and how they impact a Personal Injury claim…

The Limitation Act 1980 states that you normally have to make a personal injury claim within three years of the date of the accident, or the date of diagnosis for your illness. This time limit is referred to as the ‘limitation period’, and it is very important that you do not wait too long before starting your claim. If you leave it too long, there is a risk that you could be stopped from pursuing your claim altogether.

There are exceptions to this when the claimant is: –

  • A protected party, such as a somebody who lacks mental capacity or;
  • A minor who is under the age of 18. In this scenario, the limitation period begins to run from the date of their 18th birthday. So the limitation period expires on their 21st birthday.

Often, the limitation period is easy to identify as it is three years from the date of the index accident. However, sometimes the limitation period can be more complex to identify, as it hinges on the ‘date of knowledge’ instead. This is common in instances where the claimant has contracted a disease as a consequence of their working conditions.  The actual meaning of ‘date of knowledge’ can be difficult to determine, although it is basically defined as the date at which you knew or suspected that you had a significant condition that was caused by the conditions of your work. The knowledge can be actual, or constructive.

  • Actual knowledge- can be defined as the date that you were told the injury or illness was caused by the defendant’s actions, usually by a doctor. The Court may determine that you had actual knowledge on an earlier date.
  • Constructive knowledge- is the knowledge you may obtain from making your own reasonable enquiries, from information provided by appropriate experts.

The Courts do have discretion to override the limitation period, but in making this decision they must have regard to all of the circumstances of the individual case. The Court will attempt to balance the needs of all of the parties to avoid any prejudice to either the claimant or the defendant.

How We Can Help

The law around limitation can be very complex, we would recommend that you seek independent legal advice as soon as possible following any accident or knowledge that you have suffered an injury.  If you think that you might have a claim,  please contact our experienced personal injury team on freephone 0800 011 6666 or via email at legal@timms-law.com.

Molly Evans


Molly Evans

January 2023

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