Limitation Period on a Personal Injury Claim

What is a personal injury claim?

A personal injury can be a physical or mental injury, illness or condition. A personal injury claim is a compensation claim that can be made where a personal injury is sustained as a direct result of the negligence or breach of duty of a third party.

What is a limitation period?

In most types of litigation, there is a fixed period of time during which a formal claim must be made. This is called the ‘limitation period’. If the claim is not made within the relevant limitation period, the claim is likely to be time barred under the Limitation Act 1980 meaning the claim cannot be brought.

Limitation periods are important for public policy reasons, for instance, by providing certainty to the potential parties to litigation.

What is the limitation period in personal injury claims?

The statutory rule (subject to exceptions) is that the limitation period for personal injury claims is three years. This three-year period runs from the date on which the accident or incident occurred in which the injuries were caused; or three years from the date of ‘knowledge’. In the majority of cases, it will be clear when the personal injuries were caused.

What is the date of knowledge?

In cases where the date of knowledge is relevant, the date of knowledge under the Limitation Act 1980 section 14 (1) is the actual date when the claimant became aware of the following:

  • The injury in question is significant,
  • The injury is directly attributable to the negligent acts or omissions, or breach of duty, of the other party, and,
  • The identity of the defendant.

These will be questions of fact, and your knowledge will include anything you may have reasonably expected to discover or determine.

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For more information on:

  • How long do children have to make a personal injury claim?
  • How long do individuals with a mental health condition have to make a claim?
  • What happens on the claimant’s death?
  • Are there any other exceptions?