How Long Are Limitation Periods In Personal Injury Claims?

By Danielle Griffin. Last Updated 17th May 2023. This guide examines limitation periods in personal injury claims. We’ll review time limits for different types of claims, when you could be eligible to claim compensation and what could be paid out for different injuries.

You may already know that if you suffer because of somebody else’s negligence, you might be entitled to claim compensation.

Furthermore, you may have heard of the 3-year time limit for personal injury claims. A case must be started within the time limits otherwise you might lose out on any compensation due. However, in practice, there are several exceptions to this rule, which we’ll discuss below.

How Much Time Do I Have To Start My Injury Claim?

Solicitor explaining limitation periods in personal injury claims to a client

Accident Claims UK has been dealing with personal injury claims for decades. We can help you by reviewing your case and providing free legal advice about your options. Where claims appear to have a good chance of success, we could appoint one of our personal injury solicitors to it. If that happens, you’ll be pleased to hear that they provide a No Win No Fee service. That’s important as it means it’ll make the claims process less stressful.

If you’re ready to talk with us about claiming, please feel free to call us on 0800 073 8801. You can also contact us in writing, or chat with us now using the live chat service.

Otherwise, please continue reading if you’d like to know more about the personal injury claim limitation period in the UK.

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A Guide On How Long Limitation Periods In Personal Injury Claims Are

If you have an accident at work, are involved in a car crash, are assaulted by a criminal or suffer because of medical negligence, the law allows you to seek compensation for your injuries, provided they were caused by somebody else’s negligence.

Solicitors will consider taking on your case if:

  • You were owed a duty of care by the defendant; and
  • The duty was breached causing an incident to occur; and
  • You were injured or made ill during that incident.

However, you must claim within the relevant time limit. While there is a notion that all claims have to be started within 3-years, there are several scenarios where that’s not the case. Therefore, we’ll explain the limitation periods in personal injury claims throughout this guide. We’ll also look at the legislation that sets out limitation periods and how they apply to different scenarios.

Limitation periods are necessary to prevent claims arising years after the event. You can imagine how difficult it would be to defend yourself (and provide evidence) if somebody claimed against you for a car accident that happened 10-years ago.

We believe it’s always best to start your claim as soon as you can. By doing so, you’ll find it much easier to recall how the incident occurred and you’ll also have a better chance of securing evidence to support your case.

We also believe your chances of receiving the right level of compensation improve if you have a personal injury lawyer on your side. If one of our lawyers agrees to work for you, they’ll do everything they can to present a strong case and to try and achieve the maximum level of compensation possible.

When you’ve finished reading, why not contact us if you’d like to make a claim or if you have any questions?

Time Limit For Personal Injury Claims – Gathering Evidence

Collecting sufficient evidence could help support you when making a claim for compensation. It could help prove the extent of your injuries, who was liable for the accident, and that you are within the limitation period for your personal injury claim.

Some examples of evidence that could be useful include:

  • A copy of your medical records. In addition to stating the nature of your injury and the treatment you required, these may include the date that you first sought medical attention for your injuries.
  • Video footage of the accident, such as CCTV footage. This could help prove who was liable and may also be time-stamped, which could help prove when the accident occurred.
  • The contact details of any witnesses to the accident. They can provide a statement at a later date.

Contact our advisors if you have any questions regarding the time limit for personal injury claims. They could also offer you free advice and connect you with one of our solicitors, who could assist you with gathering evidence.

What Is The Limitation Period?

The law on limitation periods relating to personal injury claims is the Limitation Act 1980 (section 11). It sets out that for personal injury claims, the limitation period is 3-years from:

  • The date on which the cause of action accrued; or
  • The date of knowledge (if later) of the person injured.

Additionally, the act goes on to explain that if you die while you are in the middle of claiming, a representative of your estate will have 3-years to claim from the date of your death or from when they were made aware of it.

Whilst reading this guide, if you’re unsure about how long you have left to claim, please get in touch.

Limitation Periods In Fatal Personal Injury Claims

To clarify the point made in the last section, close family members may be able to claim compensation for a loved one who has died as the result of somebody else’s negligence.

However, this is only possible if the limitation period has not passed during the claimant’s lifetime. For example, if a loved one died as a result of their injuries 5-years after the accident happened, a claim would be unlikely. But, if they died a year after the accident then a claim could be brought on behalf of their estate.

In this situation, the 3-year limitation period would usually start again from the date of death. If you’d like us to help you make a fatal injury claim, please call our team for free advice on your options.

Limitation Periods In Child Injury Claims

Although children cannot represent themselves legally, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be compensated if they’re injured because of somebody else’s negligence. That’s why the litigation friend process exists. It allows parents, guardians or other responsible adults to act on the child’s behalf.

As a litigation friend, you’ll need to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. You will also need to deal with solicitors and courts for them. Where compensation is awarded, the court will verify that it is set at a fair level. They will then put the funds into a court account until the child turns 18. As their litigation friend, you can write to the court to ask for funds to be released if you can show how it will benefit the child.

The 3-year time limit does not apply to children’s personal injury claims. A litigation friend can seek compensation for them at any time before their 18th birthday. If action is not taken, when the child becomes an adult, they will have until their 21st birthday to seek damages themselves.

A similar process can be followed for claims involving those without the mental capacity to take action themselves. In this situation, if the claimant is receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983 or doesn’t have the mental capacity to claim then the litigation friend process may also be used.

Again, the 3-year time limit will not apply. However, it will be invoked from the date they are discharged or from when the conditions of their disability ended (the earlier of these two dates apply).

If you have any questions about claiming in these situations, please get in touch.

Medical Negligence Claim Time Limits

All medical professionals have a duty to protect any patient their caring for. That means informing them about risks and following accepted medical procedures. Where the duty of care is breached, you could be compensated for any avoidable injuries that result.

Examples of medical negligence that could lead to a compensation claim include:

  • Misdiagnosis of an illness.
  • Failing to refer for specialist tests.
  • Surgical errors.
  • Avoidable birth injuries.
  • Anaesthetic errors.
  • Hospital-acquired infections.
  • Medication mistakes.
  • Dental negligence.
  • Failure to advise of risks.
  • Failing to consider other forms of treatment.

All of the above could enable you to seek compensation for medical negligence if you were harmed as a result. The limitation period for medical negligence claims is 3-years. For injuries that are immediately obvious, the time limit begins from the date of the negligent act. Otherwise, you’ll have 3-years to claim from the date of knowledge.

Time Limits For Accidents Abroad

You might think that claiming for an injury suffered while on holiday might be a tricky process involving foreign solicitors. However, in cases where you’ve booked a package holiday, UK laws apply.

Package holidays are defined as those where you purchased two or more components of your holiday through the same provider. For instance, if you purchased your flight and hotels from the same company, you’re covered under package holiday laws.

Therefore, if you’re injured in the hotel, you’d claim against the tour operator as they will have a duty of care to ensure the hotel is safe. For these types of claims, you will have 3-years to take action.

Where you have booked something independently and you were injured whilst using it, you would need to claim directly against the company responsible. In these cases, the limitation period will vary from country to country.

Flight Injury Claims

If you’re injured on a flight, you’ll have 3-years to claim if:

  • The flight formed part of a package holiday.
  • You were on a domestic flight within the UK.

If you booked your flight independently, the Montreal Convention will usually apply. This means you’ll have 2-years to make your claim.

Cruise Ship Claims

Finally, if you’re injured or become ill on a cruise ship, you’ll have 2-years to claim in accordance with the Athens Convention.

If you’d like help claiming for an accident whilst on holiday abroad, please contact us today.

Limitation Periods In AFCS Personal Injury Claims

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) allows military personnel to claim compensation for some injures sustained while serving. Importantly, unlike other personal injury claims, blame or fault does not need to be proven in AFCS claims. You must simply prove you sustained the injury during the course of your service.

The scheme applies to illnesses or injuries sustained after 6th April 2005. The time limit for claiming through the AFCS scheme is 7-years.

If you’re not eligible to claim through the AFCS scheme, it is possible, in some cases, to make a civil claim. If you’re unsure which course of action to take, why not call our team today for free legal advice?

Limitation Periods In Criminal Injury Claims

If you are the victim of a violent crime, you could seek compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The scheme provides compensation for innocent victims of crimes like assault, sexual assault and knife crime.

Importantly, claims through the CICA scheme have different criteria to other injury claims. Firstly, you must have reported the crime to the police. Secondly, a 2-year time limit applies.

However, the scheme does allow some leeway in cases with exceptional circumstances. For example, if you suffered abuse as a child but could not discuss it or report it until later in life, the time limit could be extended and would start from the date you reported the crime to the police.

It’s important to point out that you claim through the CICA scheme even if the criminal has never been caught, charged or prosecuted. That’s because you don’t need to prove the criminal’s guilt. Instead the CICA assess claims on the balance of probabilities.

For support with making a CICA claim, please get in touch today.

What Happens If I Am Close To The End Of The Limitation Period?

When you make a claim with a personal injury solicitor, they need to carry out risk assessments, gather evidence and arrange medical assessments. These things all take time. Therefore, it is wise to begin your claim as early as you possibly can.

If you’re close to the end of your limitation period, please call our advice line today. We may still be able to help but we’ll need to check if enough time remains to process your claim properly.

Can I Claim For An Injury After Three Years?

As we have discussed previously, most claims have a 3-year time limit which must be adhered to. However, there are some exceptions that we’ve listed throughout this guide including:

  • Claims involving children.
  • Where claimants are receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983.
  • In historical criminal injury claims (the CICA usually allows a 2-year time limit but this may be extended).
  • Where a court rules that there were exceptional circumstances that delayed a claim from being made within the normal limitation period.

Summary Of Time Limits For Injury Claims

Hopefully, you now understand how limitation periods in personal injury claims work. To help clarify matters, please take a look at the table below:

Type of Claim Limitation Period (Generally)
Personal Injury Claim 3-years from either the date of knowledge or the date of the accident.
Fatal Illness or Injury Claim 3-years from when the victim died or from when the cause of death was diagnosed.
Children’s Injury Claim Any time before the child’s 18th birthday. Alternatively, they can claim as an adult before their 21st birthday.
Package Holiday Claim 3-years from when the accident happened or the date of knowledge.
Holiday Claims Abroad Varies. This depends on the limitation periods in each country.
Criminal Injury Claims (CICA) 2-years from when the crime took place (or from when it was reported to the police for historical cases)
Flight Injuries (International) 2-years.
Flight Injuries (Domestic) 3-years.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme 7-years.
Cruise Ship Claims 2-years from the date of disembarkation.

If you would like us to check how long you have left to begin your claim, please call an advisor today.

No Win No Fee Compensation Calculator

As we have now explained how limitation periods in personal injury claims work, let’s now move on to consider potential compensation figures. We have listed several different injuries and their compensation ranges in the table below.

If your injury is not listed, we’ll provide a figure when you call. The data in our table comes from the Judicial College Guidelines. This is the system legal professionals use to determine payment figures.

Body Part Severity Level Settlement Range Additional Comments
Arm Severe (a) £96,160 to £130,930 In this range, the injury will fall just short of requiring amputation. However, the outcome will be the same as if the arm had been lost.
Arm Fracture (d) £6,610 to £19,200 Covers simple forearm fractures.
Back Severe (iii) £38,780 to £69,730 Back injuries that result in disabilities despite surgery and chronic conditions.
Back Minor (ii) £4,350 to £7,890 Soft tissue injuries of the back that recover without surgery in less than 2 years.
Neck Moderate (i) £24,990 to
Covers injuries that result in immediate severe symptoms such as fractures or dislocations.
Knee Moderate (i) £14,840 to £26,190 Covers injuries like a torn meniscus causing minor instability, weakness and future mild disability.
Shoulder Moderate (c) £7,890 to £12,770 A settlement range for frozen shoulder that causes discomfort and limited movement for around 2-years.
Eye Minor (h) £3,950 to £8,730 This range covers for eye problems caused by smoke or fume exposure as well as being hit in the eye causing some pain and disturbance of sight.

As you’ll see, there is a link between the severity of your injuries and the size of any award. Therefore, to determine this, you’ll need a medical assessment. This will be carried out by an independent specialist as part of the claim. They’ll review your medical notes, examine you and discuss the impact of your injuries. When done, they’ll provide a report to explain how severe your injuries are, and importantly, confirming they were caused by the accident.

Our solicitors can usually arrange local medical assessments to avoid unnecessary travel.

No Win No Fee Solicitors

One of the most common concerns about claiming compensation relates to losing money on solicitors fees. For that reason, our personal injury solicitors provide a No Win No Fee service. That allows you to relax during the claims process as your financial risk is reduced greatly.

After your case has been reviewed, you’ll receive a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) if your claim is accepted. This document—the formal name for a No WIn No Fee arrangement—sets out what must be achieved before you need to pay your solicitor. Essentially, if they don’t achieve a compensation settlement for you, they don’t get paid.

Should your claim be won, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from your compensation award. This is a fixed percentage of any settlement amount. You’ll know how much you’ll pay from the start of your claim as the success fee (which is capped by law) is listed in the CFA.

One of our advisors will check if you could claim on a No Win No Fee basis when you get in touch. Therefore, why not call us today?

Talk To Our Team

We hope that our information on limitation periods in personal injury claims has helped. If you believe you have the grounds to make a claim, and you’re within the relevant time limit for doing so, you can get in touch with us by:

To allow you to begin whenever it’s convenient, we operate our claim line and online chat 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

Check These Essential References

We have almost reached the conclusion of our guide on limitation periods in personal injury claims. To help you further, we’ve supplied some links to resources that might prove useful.

When To Use NHS 111 – This article explains when the NHS 111 service could be used for injury diagnosis.

Whiplash Reform Programme – Information on the new rules relating to low-value whiplash claims for RTAs.

ROSPA – A charity that aims to reduce accidents through safety campaigns and training.

Building Site Accident Claims – Information on how to claim for injuries sustained while working on a building site.

Council Accident Claims – Advice on starting a claim if you’ve been injured due to the council’s negligence.

Wet Floor Accident Claims – Guidance on when you could claim for injuries following a slip on a wet floor.

Limitation Periods In Personal Injury Claims – FAQs

This is the final part of our guide. Therefore, we’ve answered some questions about injury claims and limitation periods below:

Why are there strict injury claim time limits?

In most cases, a 3-year time limit is in place for personal injury claims. That means you must begin your claim within that period. If you don’t you may lose the eligibility to claim compensation. One of the reasons for these time limits is to protect defendants from having to find evidence to support their case years or even decades after the incident occurred.

What injuries could I claim for?

You could be eligible to make a compensation claim for any injury that was caused by somebody else’s negligence. That means, amongst other things, it could be possible to claim for a broken bone following a fall, a head injury following a car crash, avoidable injuries during childbirth or back injuries caused by lifting heavy objects at work.

What accidents could I claim for?

You could be compensated for any suffering caused by another party’s negligence. That could allow you to seek compensation for road traffic accidents, medical negligence, workplace accidents, criminal injuries, holiday accidents and accidents in public places.

How much will it cost me to claim?

If you decide to seek compensation for personal injuries, you might have to pay legal fees if you hire a solicitor to support you. To reduce the risk of losing money on these fees, and to allow more people to claim, many personal injury solicitors offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis.

Thanks for reading our guide on the limitation periods in personal injury claims.

Guide by BH

Edited by REB