How long after a road traffic accident can you claim for damages? Are there time limits to how long you have to start a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident? In this guide, we explain what time frames may apply in various circumstances and offer you the information to promptly start a claim for your no-fault injuries today.
At Advice, we offer a unique introductory service whereby it can be possible to connect you with a member of our panel of personal injury solicitors to help you do this. Call our team and after a brief, informal consultation you could benefit from excellent free legal advice:
- Get in touch on 0161 696 9685
- Contact us online via the ‘Call me back’ option
- Or use the ‘live support’ portal bottom right
- Alternatively, carry on reading the sections below and click on the highlighted text for more details
Select A Section
- How Long After A Road Traffic Accident Can You Claim Compensation?
- When Does The Limitation Period Begin?
- Can You Claim For An Accident After 3 Years?
- Does The Mental Capacity Act 2005 Affect Limitation Periods?
- Check How Much You Could Claim For A Road Traffic Accident
- How Long After A Road Traffic Accident Can You Claim Compensation
Firstly, what is a road traffic accident and who can be affected? Any collision involving cars, cyclists, motorcycle riders, and pedestrians on British roads and highways could be defined as a road traffic accident. There are multiple scenarios that can involve more than one person or vehicle, but some general types of accidents include:
- Head-on or side-impact collisions
- Collisions with a pedestrian at crossings or junctions
- Overtaking and speeding issues that create an impact on other drivers or road users
- Multiple ‘pile-ups’
- Failure to stop (‘Hit and run’) accidents
- Cyclist and motorbike accidents
All road users must abide by the Highway Code to avoid accidents. Recent amendments to the Code have given pedestrians and vulnerable road users even greater protection on the roads as there is now a hierarchy system in place. This means that the larger the vehicle on the road the more they must be aware of other road users and offer greater protection.
The introduction of the Whiplash Reform Programme has also had a bearing on how some road users make personal injury claims after a road traffic accident. Those over the age of 18, involved in a road accident as a driver or passenger and whose injuries are valued at £5000 or less must now make their road traffic accident claim for injury compensation through a government portal.
Furthermore, if you are involved in a road traffic accident caused by an uninsured or untraceable driver you could still make a personal injury claim. The Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) can help claimants access compensation if they were injured by an untraced or uninsured driver. There are time limits in all cases, so let’s look at what they are.
When asking how long after a road traffic accident can you claim, the Limitation Act 1980 is used. This legislation sets time limits on personal injury claims. Generally, the time limit for beginning legal proceedings for a personal injury claim is 3 years.The limitation period for personal injury claims after a road traffic accident can start from two points:
- The date of the accident and injury
- The date that you became aware of your injuries, or that your injuries were caused by negligence (‘date of knowledge’)
Therefore, anyone involved in a road traffic accident who is immediately aware of their injuries will use that date. Or, if it was perhaps something like a head injury or whiplash with later onset symptoms, the 3 years can start from when you first present symptoms.
How long after a road traffic accident can you claim is a serious consideration for people who may feel they have either left it too late to make a claim or are very close to the ‘cut off’ period. It’s a good idea to confirm eligibility on this point with our team as soon as you can, as you may still have a valid claim.
Claiming For A Fatal Road Accident
It is possible to launch a claim for compensation on behalf of a loved one who died in a non-fault road traffic accident. If it was caused by criminal behaviour, it can be possible to seek a level of compensation through a Government agency called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) set up to compensate victims of violent crime who would otherwise have no other recourse. There is a two-year time limit to claims made in this way.
Claiming For Victims Under The Age Of 18
Minors are unable to represent themselves or claim on their own behalf while under the age of 18. In cases such as this, the time limit will commence from the date of their 18th birthday. This effectively allows the claimant until age 21 to start their own claim.
Alternatively, an adult with the minor’s best interests at heart can act as a ‘litigation friend’ on their behalf. This role involves assuming all the tasks and responsibilities of a personal injury claim for them, ensuring their best interests are represented throughout.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 also has a bearing on how long after a road traffic accident you could claim. If a claimant does not have the mental capacity to claim themselves, then the time limit is indefinitely suspended. A litigation friend can still commence a claim on their behalf. Or the three-year limitation period re-activates if the claimant recovers.
After clarifying how long after a road traffic accident you can claim, the next step is to look at the compensation you may be owed. It’s important to sit for an independent medical assessment as a way of clearly proving the level of injuries you sustained. A personal injury solicitor can arrange this for you.
If you make your personal injury claim after a road traffic accident through the government portal due to the Whiplash Injury Regulation 2021 then the amount of compensation you will be awarded in a successful claim differs from the traditional amounts. The Whiplash Reform now has its own set of tariffs that may be awarded. The below table is for claimants not claiming through this portal.
The findings of your medical assessment may be compared to injuries listed in a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines. This index of compensation award brackets aims to acknowledge how the injuries caused:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of amenity or pleasure to life
- Damage to personal relationships
These awards are called ‘general damages’ they are not guaranteed amounts. They vary according to circumstance. The table illustrates some guidance:
|Location of injury||How bad?||Award in JC Guidelines||Notes|
|Head||(a) Very Severe Brain Damage||£264,650 to £379,100||The injured person will be able to follow basic commands, recovery of eye opening and return of sleep and waking. There will be little meaningful response to environment.|
|Neck||(a) Severe (iii)||£42,680 to £52,540||Fractures, dislocations, very serious soft tissue injuries and ruptured tendons that can cause permanent disability|
|Neck||(b) Moderate (iii)||£7,410 to £12,900||Injuries that may accelerate pre-existing issues or soft tissue damage that takes longer to heal|
|Shoulder||(b) Serious||£11,980 to £18,020||Dislocated shoulders that cause nerve damage, sensory and weakness issues, as well as restricted movement|
|Arm||(b) Injuries resulting in permanent and substantial disability||£36,770 to £56,180||Fractures that leave functional or cosmetic disability|
|Wrist||(e) An uncomplicated Colles Fracture||In the region of|
|A wrist fracture that is uncomplicated and makes a full recovery.|
|Hip||(b) Moderate (i)||£24,950 to £36,770||A significant injury but no great risk of permanent or major disability|
|Knee||(b) Moderate (i)||£13,920 to £24,580||Dislocations, torn cartilage, weakness and mild future disability|
|Achilles tendon||(a) Most serious||In the region of|
|The tendon is completely severed|
As well as these amounts, you could be owed back any sums you needed to pay out in order to deal with the injuries. It’s essential that you can demonstrate these out-of-pocket expenses with documented proof such as any invoices or receipts and bills that show these associated costs. With this in mind, it could be possible to seek back:
- Lost earnings
- Domestic care costs from family, friends, or paid carers
- Travel expenses like petrol or parking for essential appointments
- Additional health or medical requirements, medication or equipment
- Damage to personal items during the accident (Bicycle, eyewear, mobile phone, etc)
You may have proof of other expenses forced on you by what happened. When considering how long after a road traffic accident can you claim, it’s vital that you also accurately assess the costs attached to the injuries. As it is possible to make a claim only once, it can be worth taking legal advice on how to include costs of necessary items in the weeks, months, or even years to follow. Our personal injury compensation calculator can help, or simply call our team.
Make sure that you begin your personal injury claim within the time limits. You can do this yourself but it can be much easier working with a No Win No Fee personal injury solicitor. Under an agreement like this, they can take up your claim at no upfront cost to you. Only a 25% maximum fee is due to cover solicitors’ fees if the case wins. Find out more by:
- Speaking to our team about how long after a road traffic accident you can claim in a free consultation on 0161 696 9685
- Or contact us online
- Use the ‘live support’ portal
Where To Read More About Road Traffic Accident Claims
- Details on an accident caused by faulty traffic lights
- FAQ’s on whiplash compensation
- Further reading on pedestrian accident compensation claims
- More reading on road traffic accident statistics from the Government
- Road safety tips from THINK!
Page by FS
Published by AL.