When does the clock start ticking?
Recently our Personal Injury team has seen an increase in the number of serious injury claims coming into the department where the injured party has delayed seeking legal action. This means in some cases the injured party has left it too late where the claim becomes ‘statute-barred’.
In law, the general rule for making a personal injury claim is up to 3 years from the date of the injury or date of knowledge. Unfortunately, we received an enquiry where the client at the age of 13 sustained a brain injury after being run over by a car. In this instance, the client contacted us after their 21st birthday, which meant that we were unable to assist them with their claim as it was no longer legally enforceable and as a result, they lost out on a potential claim worth more than £500,000.
In the case of child injuries, the clock does not start ticking until they reach the age of 18 but the proceedings must be filed before their 21st birthday, and in the above case mentioned the client had left it until it was too late.
In this article, Navdip Gill, Partner and head of the Personal Injury department highlights the rules and time limits associated with making a personal injury claim, and what you should do to avoid this costly mistake.
What are the rules when making a personal injury claim?
The general rule is that most claimants have up to 3 years from the date of the injury or date of knowledge to make a claim; this is known as the limitation date. Once the limitation date has passed, your claim becomes ‘statute-barred’, however, there are some exceptions to this rule:
- Any International flights directly through an airline under international law have a 2-year time limit to a make claim. In relation to the USA time limits may vary depending on the state the accident took place.
- Injury on a boat/ferry – You have up to 2 years to make a claim from the date of the accident.
- Criminal injuries compensation Authority (CICA) – You have up to 2 years from the date of the assault or criminal incident.
- Injury or illness in the armed forces – Military personnel injured in the line of duty can make an armed forces injury claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). In this situation personnel have 7 years from the date of the injury to file a claim through AFCS, however, they can choose to make a claim under civil law, which can result in more compensation, but the standard 3-year limit would apply.
- Child injury claims – the clock starts to run on the 18th Birthday and expires on their 21st
Child Injury Claims
Navdip has been acting on behalf of an 11-year-old child who was knocked over by a reversing vehicle while they were cycling without a helmet. As a result of the accident the child sustained a series of complex head injuries, which included fatigue, memory loss, and inability to process information that was having a huge impact on their psychological and academic development. Luckily for this child the parents acted quickly to appoint our solicitor who was able to secure the extra support they needed, and plans were put in place to grant them extra time for their school examinations. These included teachers adapting how they gave instructions to the child which needed to be short and concise, using cues and reminders alongside homework lists and plans to help organise his workload.
Liability was also accepted by the other party and as soon as the child turns 18 the clock will start ticking for the proceedings to be issued before their 21st birthday.
To learn more about child injury claims, and how you can make a claim on behalf of a child visit our Child injury page
What happens if someone lacks mental capacity to make a claim?
If a claimant lacks mental capacity the limitation period would not start until the date the claimant was discharged as a patient or the date other conditions of their disability ends.
Capacity means the ability to use and understand information to make a decision, and communicate any decision made.
In circumstances where the claimant lacks mental capacity a family member or friend can act as the claimant’s litigation friend and make a claim on their behalf, which can be while they are still receiving treatment.
What can you do?
The advice we give to anyone who has had an accident due to no fault of their own is to seek a solicitor straight away and not to leave your claim before it is too late. Even if you are unsure about your claim a solicitor will be able to advise if you have a valid claim.
When contacting a solicitor, make sure you have the accident & emergency records that document the injury together with some details of where the accident occurred and name and address of the defendant.
We can assess your claim by way of a free consultation and there is absolutely no commitment to sign up. The majority of claims we handle are arranged on a No Win No fee arrangement, so if you decide to go ahead and make a claim you don’t need to worry about expensive legal costs, for more information visit our No Win No Fee page.
Alternatively, if you are looking to transfer your case and needing a second opinion our team are available to review your case with no obligation.
These time limits are crucial, and the Courts will not allow you to re-open the case outside these times limits unless there is very good reason to do so. Unfortunately, just because you are unaware of the claim is not an acceptable reason for the courts to open your case beyond the time limit.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.