When claiming compensation, it's important that you're aware of the laws surrounding such action. This is why receiving early, detailed advice from a knowledgeable personal injury solicitor is essential whenever you're considering making a claim for your injury.
For instance, did you know that there are time limits on making a personal injury claim?
If you miss the deadline, then your compensation claim will not succeed. It becomes 'time barred' under the Limitation Act 1980, Section 11. Once your case becomes time barred, or statute-barred, then you will be unable to proceed with it. This is why finding out when the injury occurred is one of the most important things for you and your compensation lawyer to establish. You're likely to be asked this question when starting your claim so that your personal injury solicitor can advise you of the best way forward.
How long do I have to make a claim?
As a general rule, the time limit for making a claim for personal injury or illness is three years from the date on which the accident occurred, or on which you were exposed to a harmful substance.
In some cases, however, applying this time limit is not always reasonable, and therefore there are some exceptions:
- Date of knowledge
Some illnesses and injuries may only develop after a long period of exposure to a particular substance or after repeated use of particular equipment, and sometimes the long-lasting effects of an accident won't be immediately apparent. This leads to people not realising that they have been injured until many years after the accident or exposure took place. This is often the case with industrial diseases, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, where it may take 30 - 40 years for the symptoms to appear.
In such cases the three year personal injury time limit starts running on the date that you become aware that there is a link between the illness or injury you are suffering and an incident in the past.
- Injured children
Adults can make a claim for compensation on behalf of a child under the age of 16 by acting as a 'litigation friend' – typically this will be a parent or guardian. If a child wishes to make a claim themselves, they must wait until their 16th birthday and they then have until their 19th birthday (the three year time limit) to commence the claim.
- Injuries to people with mental incapacity
As with children, the law protects people who are mentally incapable – in other words, someone who is unable to make well-informed decision for themselves. In this case, the three year compensation time limit does not start running until they are considered mentally capable again.
- Fatal injury claims
Iif a person has died as a result of an accident or illness that was someone else's fault, then the Executor or a relative may be able to bring a claim for compensation. This has to be brought within three years of the date of death. If the cause of death is discovered at a later date, such as in a post-mortem, then this will count as the date of knowledge and the three years will begin from that date.
Sometimes the claimant has already commenced a claim but then dies before it is settled. In this case the three-year the clock resets on the date of the claimant's death, giving their loved ones and executors adequate time to continue with the court proceedings under the new set of difficult circumstances.
The above represents some very complex areas of personal injury law. If you find any of these situations apply to you, then enlisting the help of an experienced solicitor is a must.
Claim for compensation today
At Thompsons, we strongly recommend that you start your claim as soon as possible after the accident or the time when you became aware that your illness or injury was linked to a particular incident. Starting your claim at the earliest possible time will help make the process easier and therefore much more likely that your claim will be successful. One reason for this is because witnesses will have a clearer memory of what happened, allowing them to give stronger evidence to back up your case.
And with our expert solicitors on your side, you can be sure that they will do everything in their power to get you the fair amount of compensation you deserve. We win more than 90 per cent of the cases we take to court, recovering more than £1million for our clients each week.