When Do I Have To Make A Claim?

Generally speaking, in England and Wales, a claim must be brought within 3 years of the date of the accident or injury being sustained. This is known as the limitation period of the claim.

Usually, the date of the accident is easily established, for example a car accident or an injury involving machinery at work would be clearly known and documented.

Therefore, you should bring a claim by the third anniversary of the accident.

With a minor, that is to say someone under the age of 18, then the time limit only starts to run from the date upon which they reach 18. This means that they must bring Court proceedings by the time they reach their 21st birthday.

Please note that simply telling the Defendant or the insurer that you are going to make a claim, or visiting a solicitor, does not count as “bringing” the claim. What must happen within the limitation period is the starting of Court proceedings.

In some cases, the date of injury is not clear, for example a repetitive type injury at work may develop over a long period of time, and the symptoms may be quite subtle at first. Generally speaking, the date would start to run from your “date of knowledge” that you had sustained an injury, and that it may be related to your work practice (or some other situation). This might when you are first told by a medical expert that you have an injury that is  work related, but it is possible that you may know this prior to that date, so think about it very carefully. It may for example be an ongoing mild condition, which suddenly deteriorates significantly.

It is very difficult for a precise guide to be given in relation to this, so generally speaking the advice is that as soon as you think you may have a claim, even if you are not entirely sure, contact us for advice.

If you are unfortunate enough to have allowed the limitation period to have expired, it may be possible in some cases to ask the Court to use its discretion to allow you to continue the claim, even though it is out of time. There is no hard and fast rule regarding what will and will not be allowed, as every case depends upon its own facts.

Overall therefore, the general advice is to seek advice as early as you can, even if you are not sure that you wish to bring a claim, so that you know what your rights and time limits are.

Even if you think your case is out of time, obtain advice, to be sure.

There are some substantial variations to limitation periods in foreign claims and in claims arising out of accidents at sea, and in the air, so again, get advice early on to avoid being too late.