Personal Injury Claims Time Limits

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By Crispin Bateman

on Wednesday 27 February 2019

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What is the personal injury claim time limit?

The statute of limitations on personal injury claims in the UK is three years. This means, that in most cases you have three years from the date of injury to begin your claim.

Simple, no? End of article, right?

Unfortunately, while this is absolutely true, there are plenty of exceptions and details to understand – all of which could be applicable to your claim.

This article aims to cover the many different situations which can lead to a different limitation period and provide a comprehensive understanding of the personal injury claims system.

The personal injury claims process – how long do personal injury claims take to settle?

Making a claim for accident compensation in the UK is not a simple process and understanding the time limit for accident claims can be complicated. Let’s walk step-by-step through the important stages.

Stage 1 – the incident

The process begins with the moment an injury occurred; the moment you were the victim of a non-fault road traffic accident.

If the precise date of the car incident is known, then the time limit to sue for compensation begins on that date. This is called the date of the injury.

Stage 2 – the diagnosis

It is important in every injury compensation claim to obtain a professional medical diagnosis of the condition. This may be treatment for broken ribs, whiplash, or the first diagnosis for a serious condition that has occurred due to a road traffic accident.

If it is the latter, then the time limit to initiate the claim will begin here. This is called the date of knowledge (the date you became aware of the injury or medical condition and realised it was due to an accident).

Stage 3 – the phone call

Giving us at Non-Fault Claims the initial phone call is the beginning of our involvement, but it does not count as far as the law is concerned as the time of initiating the claim. Once you have contacted us, we will begin assessing your claim and it will be passed on to our team of solicitors once it is determined to be valid.

Our personal injury lawyers will then conduct thorough research and gather evidence to put forward the case. Only when this is done will they be able to file the claim.

It can take as much as an entire year to put together a strong case to make a claim, although it typically takes a far shorter time, and most are done within a few months. It is time lost before being able to make the claim, however, and is the reason many no win no fee personal injury lawyers reject claims that are within six months of their time limit.

At Non-Fault Claims, we will do our best to process your claim and perform strong research quickly. If you believe that the statute of limitations will soon render your claim invalid, call us immediately to see if we can help in time.

Stage 4 - negotiation

Letters are exchanged between us at Non-Fault Claims on your behalf, and the defending solicitors in an attempt to reach an amicable settlement without the need to appear in court.

Pleasingly, most claims are settled in this stage, reducing fees and reaching a satisfactory early conclusion.

The negotiation stage can take anything from a few weeks to many months and if it is clear that no settlement can be agreed, it passes to a final stage.

Stage 5 – filing for compensation

An official application is made by us to the court, and copies of that application are served to the defendant (the business, organisation or individual you are claiming against).

This is the all-important date that marks the official date of the claim and must be within the three-year statute of limitations.

Stage 6 – court

If the process goes to trial, it is typically settled in a single final hearing where you will be expected to attend.

It could take as much as 12 months to be seen by the court if the value of the case is low (below £25,000), but more valuable claims will be scheduled sooner.

Stage 7 – payment

Once the final settlement is agreed, whether by a final court hearing or through solicitor negotiation, then your compensation payment will be paid between 14 and 21 days.


The entire process from start to finish can take many months and even years before it is completed, and you have received payment. It is during the process that the claim is officially recorded, not at the start, and so a claim which is first discussed with the personal injury lawyers two years after the car accident might still fall outside the 3-year time limit if its execution is delayed.

At Non-Fault Claims we take great care to make sure all claims are filed well before the limit occurs and always advise contacting us sooner rather than later. If you believe you may want to claim, it is better to start the process today, rather than wait.

Can I claim for an accident after 3 years? - Exceptions to the three-year rule

Exception 1 – date of knowledge over date of injury

Where the injury date is not known, the date of knowledge marks the start point for limitation. This is the date that you became aware of your injury or medical condition and that it was cause because of the non-fault accident.

Exception 2 – child personal injury cases

If a parent, guardian or other litigation friend is making a claim on behalf of a child who has been injured then this can be done at any time up to the child’s 18th birthday, ignoring all other limitations.

If an adult suffered an injury while they were a child and no one made a claim on their behalf when they were younger, then they have the standard three-year time period granted to them from the date of their 18th birthday, effectively giving them until their 21st birthday to file the claim.

Exception 3 – compensation for death

If an accident leads to a death, then the family of the victim can make a claim for compensation. This can only be done if the standard statute of limitation for the accident did not pass during the victim’s lifetime.

The time frame for making a compensation claim for someone who is deceased is three years from the time of death, or if the reason for death does not become apparent until a post-mortem is performed, then it is three years from this time of knowledge.

Exception 4 – CICA (criminal injuries compensation authority) claims

Unlike the standard time frame, CICA imposes a two-year statute of limitations on claims that are due to an assault or other criminal injury.

Exception 5 – when under the Mental Health Act 1983

Personal injury claims made by someone who was receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act (1983) have a statute of limitations that begins from the moment they were discharged or the date of the conditions of the disability ended (whichever comes first).

Is there a time limit on accident claims that happen abroad? How long do you have to make a claim for personal injury that happened on holiday?

If you are injured due to a road traffic accident that happened abroad, then you will have to abide by the laws of the country where your accident happened. This may mean anything from there being no recourse to make a claim at all, to rules that are very similar to the UK.

Each country will have its own rules regarding the statute of limitations.

Should you suffer an accident while independently abroad then you should contact us immediately to see if we can help.

Is the accident at work claim time limit different to that for road traffic accident claims?

Under the UK law, the situation in which you suffered the accident does not affect the time frame for making the compensation claim. In this way the time limit to sue for a car accident is identical for that for an injury while in a public place or in the workplace.

When should I contact Non-Fault Claims?

It is important that you do not leave it too long to start processing your potential personal injury claim. You can call us to initiate your claim the very day after the accident occurred!

We always do everything we can to make sure that gathering evidence and pushing forward to officially file the compensation claim is done within the required time frame, but it is up to you to give as much time as possible for the process. Keeping accurate records, visiting your doctor immediately and contacting us as soon as you can will help make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

If you have suffered a road traffic accident and subsequently sustained an injury that was not your fault, contact us today.

0808 1454275

Non Fault Claims can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!

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