When an accident happens, especially when you become injured in that accident, making a claim for those injuries (hopefully) is not the first thing that comes to mind. Often, the first priority is to get to a hospital and get treatment, urgent or not, and getting better. Having an accident can impact your life in a variety of different ways and it could be months, maybe years, before the thought of pursuing compensation crosses your mind.
That being said, it’s important to bear in mind that brining a claim for personal injury cannot be done any time after an accident. Dependant on the circumstances of each case, there are strict time limits that apply for when you can bring a claim.
The main piece of legislation which stipulates the timescales is the Limitation Act 1980.
For accidents such as road traffic accidents, accidents at work, trips or slips in public, or accidents caused by a fault product, the relevant time limit is 3 years. This means that you have 3 years from the date the accident happened to either settle your claim with the Defendant or issue Court proceedings against the Defendant. Failure to settle your claim or issue Court proceedings in this time will mean that your claim will become “statute-barred”. This means that you lose the right to bring your claim. This does not mean that the Court will prevent you from issuing proceedings. However, what it means is that the Defendant will be able to argue in their Defence that your claim has been brought late and that the delay in bringing the claim has prejudiced the Defendant’s ability to properly defend the claim compared to what they would have if you brought the claim within the time limit. If the Defendant does this, the Court will likely agree and you risk having your claim dismissed.
However, some different types of accidents carry different time limits to the standard 3 year time limit from the date of the accident.
If you are a child (under the age of 18) when you are involved in an accident, the time limit differs slightly. In these circumstances, the time limit will expiry 3 years after the injured child’s 18th birthday (i.e. their 21st birthday).
Also, if you are making a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation for an injury you sustained as a result of a violent crime, the relevant time limit is 2 years from the date you sustained your injuries. There would have to be good reason for attempting to bring a claim after the 2 year limit has passed.
For accidents that happen abroad, on board a plane or a ship, the time limits will vary depending on the circumstances of each case. Therefore, it is our advice that you seek advice from a specialist solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that you are not statute-barred from pursuing your claim.
As I stated at the start of this blog, making a claim is not likely to be the first thing on someone’s mind when they are injured in an accident. However, it’s important to bear in mind the time that you have to bring a claim so that you do not fall foul of bringing a claim late and risk having your claim dismissed.
If you have been injured in the last 3 years, and want advice on whether you have a potential claim, call JNP Legal on the numbers provided on our website to speak to one of our personal injury specialists.
JNP Legal offer a variety of legal services. Our Merthyr, Nelson & Llanishen office is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and our Merthyr Tydfil Office is open 9am – 12pm every Saturday morning.
If you are unable to attend our offices we would be more than happy to arrange a home appointment, where convenient.
We value our clients and pride ourselves on our ability to offer a first class service.
If you require our assistance with any legal matters please call us on 01685 350421 (Merthyr Tydfil Office) 01443 450561 (Nelson Office) or 02920 763211 (Cardiff Office) or contact us via email on Law@jnplegal.org.