Personal injury claims time limits


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Despite personal injury claims being extremely common, many people are still confused about certain issues regarding them.

One of these issues is the time limitations on claims. Most people are unaware that there are time limits in place, so getting clued up on them is invaluable as it could affect a claim you make.

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UK claims time limits

In the UK, a personal injury claim must be made within three years of the date of the accident, or within three years of realising that the accident or exposure was the cause of an illness or injury.

It is important to note that the latter – the realisation that the accident or exposure was to blame – is in place to protect people who have been exposed to substances such as asbestos, as they may not have any symptoms connecting to the exposure until years or sometimes even decades later.


If an accident has resulted in a fatality, the time limit to make a claim is within three years of the date of the death. In cases of fatalities, the claims process will often begin after a post-mortem has taken place, which would provide evidence that an accident or exposure has contributed to the death.

In addition, if an individual passes away whilst their personal injury claim is ongoing, the time period automatically resets to within three years from the date of death. This allows ample time for the family to make arrangements and not have the initial worry of continuing with the claims process on the deceased’s behalf.

Exceptions to the time limits

As with a lot of things, there are exceptions to the three year time frame, which are children and those being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983.

A child is exempt from the rule until his/her 18th birthday, when the three year period will begin. For those being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983, the three year period will only being once the patient had been discharged from care.

Another exception to the three year time limit is for claims that are being dealt with by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). So claims that relate to attacks or assaults. For these claims, the time limit is two years from the date of the incident.

Claims outside the UK

Some people may find themselves in a situation where they have been injured whilst outside the UK. In this instance, the time limits may vary. Each country have their own laws and regulations regarding personal injury claims and time limits, so if you have been injured outside the UK, you should seek legal advice to find out exactly what your time limitations are.

So when should I make a claim?

Three years from the date of the accident or incident may seem like a long time, therefore you may be in no rush to begin the process of making a claim.

However, it is important that you start your personal injury claim as soon as possible after the accident. One reason being, the longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes to obtain medical records, which may be crucial to your claim.

Another reason to act quickly is if you have any witnesses of your accident, their account may not be as accurate years down the line as it would just a month or two later. In summary, it is always best to begin making a personal injury claim at the earliest possible time.

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