Is There A Time Limit For A Car Accident Claim?

You may already be aware that if you are injured in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be eligible to claim compensation. But did you know you need to make a car accident claim within a certain time limit? And do you know that the car accident injury claim time limit could differ depending on your circumstances?


We have put together this guide to help you work out your time limit. In the sections that follow, we also offer insight into how to calculate compensation payouts, along with the type of damages you could be awarded. We look in-depth at different road traffic accident time limits and show how there could be a different car accident claim time limit depending on whether you were injured as a child, mentally incapacitated, or unaware of your injuries until much later.

We also give you insight into how we could help you with a road traffic accident claim, whether that’s by our advisors providing free legal advice or by putting you in touch with a personal injury solicitor to assist with your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. If you have any questions or wish to begin a claim, please don’t hesitate to call 0161 696 9685 to reach our friendly team.

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A Guide To Time Limits For Car Accident Claims

If you sustain injuries in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the road traffic accident claim time limit may not be your first thought. Recovering from your injuries may take priority. But you must remember that there is a time limit for a car accident claim, and if you attempt to claim beyond the limitation period, it would likely be rejected.

While we know you may not wish to begin a claim right after you are injured in a car accident, preferring instead to concentrate on your recovery, we would not want you to miss out on the compensation you could be eligible for. This is why we have put together this informative guide to give you some idea of how long you might have to make your claim.

Who Could Claim?

When it comes to a road traffic accident in which someone is injured through no fault of their own, the following people are some of those who could launch a compensation claim:

  • Cyclists
  • Pedestrians
  • Passengers
  • Drivers
  • Motorcyclists
  • Representatives (also known as a litigation friends)
  • Bereaved family members or dependents

The Personal Injury Claims Time Limit Explained

Under the Limitation Act 1980, there are certain time limits to how long after an incident, victims of personal injury or their representative could bring a compensation claim. These limitation periods could differ depending on whether a person has the mental capacity to claim, whether they were injured as a child or whether they are a parent claiming on behalf of an injured child, for example. 

Limitation periods could begin on the date of an accident, or they could begin on the date the injured party or their representative became aware of their injuries being connected to a car accident that was someone else’s fault.

If you have no experience of the law already, these limitation periods could be confusing. This is why we have created this guide to show you what time limit for a car accident could apply in different circumstances. We hope you find this guide useful. If you would like to obtain free legal advice tailored to your situation, we’d be glad to help you. All you need to do is call our advisors.

Road Traffic Accident Compensation Calculator

To calculate compensation payouts for car accident claims, solicitors need to review all the evidence, circumstances and facts of the case. An important piece of proof that could influence compensation amounts is medical evidence. 

As part of a claim, you would need to attend a medical examination with an independent medical professional. They would review your medical notes where appropriate, examine your injuries and produce a medical report detailing your prognosis and potential recovery period. Solicitors could use this to come to an appropriate compensation amount for your injuries.

Why Not Use A Personal Injury Claims Calculator?

You may assume the most accurate way to obtain an estimate for your compensation payout would be to use an online personal injury claims calculator. However, we should warn you that this is not necessarily the case. Such tools could be useful in gaining a very rough idea of compensation payouts. But, they simply cannot take into account all the evidence and facts surrounding your case. 

Therefore, we have used figures recommended by the Judicial College Guidelines. Lawyers often use these guidelines to give claimants some insight into potential compensation amounts for their injuries. If you cannot see your injuries below, please call us for further guidance.

Injury typeNotesGuideline Payout Bracket
Severe PTSDWhere the condition stops someone from working and affects aspects of their life permanently.£56,180 - £94,470
Moderate PTSDCases in which the person would have largely recovered. There wouldn’t be any grossly disturbing long lasting effects.£7,680 - £21,730
Severe neck injuryCases could include victims with permanent spastic quadriparesis or incomplete paraplegia.In the region of £139,210
Moderate neck injuriesInjuries that limit the person’s ability to complete normal daily activities or that cause chronic conditions. Injuries could include severe fractures or dislocations.£23,460 - £36,120
Minor neck injuriesIncluding minor-level soft tissue injuries.£4,080 - £7,410
Severe back injuriesWith nerve root or spinal cord damage. Consequences would be serious.£85,470 - £151,070
Moderate back injuriesCompression/crush injuries to the vertebrae in the lumbar region. Consequences could be risk of osteoarthritis and ongoing pain.£26,050 - £36,390
Minor back injuriesIncluding soft tissue injuries as well as strains/sprains. It would be expected that the person would recover within two to five years£7,410 - £11,730
Severe shoulder injuriesBrachial plexus damage causing significant disabilities.£18,020 - £45,070
Moderate shoulder injuriesSymptoms of conditions in this bracket could last around 2 years. Injuries could include soft tissue/frozen shoulder injuries.£7,410 - £11,980
Minor shoulder injuriesSoft tissue injury that causes pain but would fully recover in less than 2 years.£4,080 - £7,410

Types Of Damages You Could Be Awarded

As well as asking what the time limit for car accident claims could be, you may also want to know what type of damages you could claim. We break this down for you below.

General Damages

These are damages that compensate you for the non-pecuniary (non-financial) costs you incur as a result of your injuries. There is no definitive price on pain and suffering or loss of amenity. Lawyers assess the evidence, facts and circumstances of your case to work out how much compensation could be appropriate for your injuries, as we described in the previous section.

Special Damages

These are damages that compensate you for the pecuniary (financial) costs of your injuries. If you incur costs such as the below, you could include them within your claim. You would, however, need to be able to evidence them, as this would give you the best possible chance of successfully winning these expenses back. Evidence could include: payslips, receipts, and bank statements.

Care Costs

If your injuries leave you unable to wash or dress, for example, you might require care at home. You could include the cost of care within your claim as special damages.

Medical Expenses

You could include the costs of mobility aids, prescription fees, private physiotherapy charges and other medical costs not covered by the NHS within your claim.

Loss Of Wages

People unable to work while recovering from their injuries could claim for any loss of wages they suffer as a result. A claim for loss of income could include bonuses and overtime. In some cases, you could claim for future loss of income too.

Travel Expenses

If you incur costs for travel associated with your injuries, such as trips to meet with your lawyer or to attend medical appointments, you could include these costs in your claim too.

What Is A Time Limit For A Car Accident Claim?

To claim compensation for injuries you sustain in a car accident, you would have to be able to prove that:

  • You had a car accident.
  • It was not your fault (or, in some cases, only partially your fault).
  • You’ve suffered injuries because of the accident.

You would also have to launch your claim within the time limit to claim for a car accident. While some exceptions appear in section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980, in many cases you would need to claim within the time limit stipulated in section 11.

Section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980

Section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980 stipulates that the limitation period would begin from either the date of knowledge of the incident or the date of the incident itself.

Date Of The Accident

If you are immediately aware that you are injured, your car accident claim time limit would usually be 3 years from the date the accident took place. This means that you or your lawyer would have to file court paperwork within this period.

Date Of Knowledge

While you might walk away after a car accident with the assumption that you did not sustain injuries, sometimes, symptoms could appear later on. Whiplash is one such injury that may not present right away. The three-year limit would still apply to such claims, but the limitation period would begin on the date you became aware of your injuries and that they were connected to a car accident caused by someone else.

If you’re not sure how long you’d have to claim after a car accident, our advisors could offer free legal advice to you over the phone. We could assess your case and ascertain what the time limit for your injury claim could be. If you are close to the personal injury claim time limit in the UK, we could quickly connect you with a lawyer to assist you.

Car Accident Claim Time Limits For Children

The time limit for a car accident claim involving a child could vary, depending on who is making the claim.

  • If someone is injured as a child and their parent/guardian claims on their behalf, they could have until the child’s 18th birthday to do so.
  • If you sustain injuries as a child and no one claims on your behalf, you could have from your 18th birthday until the date you turn 21 to claim.

Whether you are looking to claim as a child that has now reached their 18th birthday or are considering claiming for your child as a litigation friend, we’d be happy to help you.

Car Accident Claim Time Limits For Fatal Injuries

If you lose a loved one in a car accident, you might not realise that you could claim compensation. However, the deceased person’s estate, a bereaved family member or a dependent could make a claim if someone dies in a car accident that wasn’t their fault. The time limit for a car accident claim involving a fatality is usually:

  • Three years from the date the person died.
  • Three years from the date the death is linked to the accident caused by someone else.

If you would like our assistance with claiming compensation after losing a loved one, we would be happy to provide you with free legal advice over the phone. We could also put you in contact with a personal injury lawyer who could assist with your claim.

Accident Claim Time Limits With Diminished Mental Capacity

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 outlines how an individual’s mental capacity should be assessed. Diminished mental capacity should not be subject to a time limit for a personal injury claim. Similar in some ways to child injury claims, a litigation friend could act on their behalf.

Is There A Time Limit To Claim For A Car Accident If The Person Recovers Their Mental Capacity?

If someone recovers their mental capacity, they could be subjected to a time limit for a car accident claim. The limitation period could begin on the day of discharge from treatment, for example, and it may be 3 years from that date.

Other Times You Could Claim After The Three Year Time Limit

The answer to ‘Can I claim for an accident after three years?’ could be complicated. While most claims become time-barred after the limitation period ends, a court could use its discretion to allow you to claim after this period in some exceptional cases. Section 33 of the Limitation Act refers to exceptional circumstances and states that the court must assess:

  • Reasons for the delay
  • Length of the delay
  • Evidence and the steps the plaintiff took to acquire it
  • Conduct of the defendant and whether they had contributed to the delay
  • Duration of the disability that arises after the date the claim should have been time-barred
  • How quickly you acted once you had knowledge of the defendant’s contribution to your injuries
  • The steps you took (if any) to get medical, legal or other professional advice and the nature of the advice you got

If you are wondering, ‘Can I claim for injury after three years?’ because you feel your case could be an exception to the usual time limit, please call our team for free legal advice. We’d be happy to assist you.

Can I Claim When Close To The Time Limit?

Some people may not realise they could be eligible to claim compensation at the time of a car accident. Or, they may not realise that they could claim on behalf of someone else. While we would urge those who sustain injuries to obtain legal advice as quickly as possible after a car accident that was not their fault, we recognise that there are a variety of reasons why people wait before beginning a claim.

If you would like to claim but fear you are getting close to the time limit for a car accident claim, we could help you. We could do so by assessing your case and connecting you with a solicitor who may be able to assist you. Solicitors usually prefer a certain amount of time (6 months to 1 year) to collect all the evidence and build a strong case for you. 

However, in some cases, they may be able to file protective proceedings to stop your claim from becoming time-barred. This could give them more time to fully investigate your claim, gather evidence or negotiate a settlement out of the courts.

No Win No Fee Car Accident Injury Claims

If you think you would have to pay a solicitor upfront to help you with your claim, you might be pleased to learn that this simply is not the case with No Win No Fee claims. Our advisors could connect you with a solicitor who could take your case forward without you having to pay them unless your case is successful.

How Do No Win No Fee Claims Work?

Usually, the process for No Win No Fee Claims proceeds as follows:

  1. Your lawyer sends you a document known as a No Win No Fee agreement. This document stipulates a success fee that you would pay your lawyer if your case is successful and your compensation payout comes through. The fee is subject to a legal cap and represents a small proportion of your total payout.
  2. When you sign and return the document, your lawyer will begin to work on your car accident claim. They will gather evidence and negotiate with the liable party on your behalf. If the liable party disputes your claim, your lawyer could support you through the court process. They could help you to get the compensation you deserve.
  3. Once the liable party’s insurer or the liable party themselves pays your compensation, your lawyer deducts the agreed success fee from the payout.

What Happens If My Claim Fails?

If you’re worried about paying your solicitor if your claim fails, you need not be. Under No Win No Fee terms, if your solicitor fails to get you compensation, you don’t pay the success fee. If you would like to read more about No Win No Fee claims, you could take a look at the guide here for further information. Alternatively, you could call our friendly team; we’ll be happy to give you more information over the phone.

Speak To Our Team

Now we have explained the time limit for a car accident claim in more detail, you might be ready to begin a claim yourself. Or, you may still have questions. Either way, we’d be happy to help you. Our advisors can provide you with case-specific free legal advice. Or they could connect you with a No Win No Fee personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim. All you need to do is get in touch.

More Information

The Road Traffic Act 1988 – This legislation applies to all drivers and vehicles in the UK. It includes the correct use of vehicles on UK roads.

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau – If you sustain injuries in an accident with an untraceable or uninsured driver, your solicitor could help you with a claim to the MIB.

The Highway Code – You can find more insight into the rules of the road here.

Claiming For A Child – Our guide explains how to claim for a child who sustains injuries in an accident that wasn’t their fault.

Can A Whiplash Claim Be Refused – This guide provides information on whiplash claims and what could happen when a liable party refuses a claim.

Whiplash Accident Claims – Find out more about making a whiplash claim in this useful guide.

Other Car Accident Claim Guides

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