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Under the law of England and Wales, personal injury claims must be made within three years of the date of the accident, or within three years of the date it became clear that an illness or injury was caused by a particular accident or incident.
This second timeline, starting from the “date of knowledge”, exists to protect people who become ill as a result of being exposed to harmful materials (such as asbestos) during the course of their work; it is possible that the signs of illness associated with this kind of exposure may not become clear until many years after the exposure takes place. It is important to note that this extended timeframe does not apply in the situation where an existing injury becomes worse over time. Although the deterioration will certainly be taken into account by the court (or as part of any settlement), it does not mean that the three-year time limit restarts.
Time limits in the case of fatalities are the same, although the timeline begins at the date of death. Should someone die while an existing personal injury claim is on-going, the time period for making the revised claim begins again from the date of death to allow the deceased’s family time to make the necessary arrangements without the additional pressure of on-going court proceedings.
Different countries have different time limits for personal injury claims, so, if you were injured outside the UK, it is vital that you get legal advice from an expert in dealing with overseas claims. Our dedicated personal injury solicitors would be happy to discuss your specific circumstances in more detail if this may apply to your case.
There are exceptions to these time limits in the case of children and those being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983. Personal injury claim time limits in these cases begin on the child’s 18th birthday, or the date the person is discharged from care under the Act.
Although you have three years to make your claim, from a practical perspective you should not delay in making a start with the claim process. This is primarily because it will become significantly more difficult to gather the evidence you need for a successful claim the longer it is since the accident took place. We recommend making a start on your claim as soon as you become aware of an injury which you believe was someone else’s fault. Our expert team will be very happy to discuss your case with you.
If you have not started court proceedings in relation to your claim within the relevant time limit, your claim will be “statute-barred”. While it is possible to start court proceedings after this date, the court’s permission is required, and the court will only agree on the basis of very strict criteria.
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