Is There A Time Limit On Personal Injury Claims?

You may already know that claiming compensation for accidents that aren’t your fault, medical negligence, and criminal injury could be possible. However, did you know there is a time limit on personal injury claims, and if you leave it too late, your case may become time-barred? When it comes to claiming compensation, we advise claimants to take action as soon as possible after they sustain their injuries.

However, there are instances where claimants may not have taken action because they were unaware of their injuries. Or, they may not have been in a position to claim right away. So how long could people have before their claim becomes barred?

Time limit on personal injury claims guide

Time limit on personal injury claims guide

We have put together this guide to explain why the time limit on personal injury claims could differ between cases. In the sections below, we explain how the Limitation Act 1980 enshrines in law how long people have to claim in a variety of different situations. We also guide on claiming on behalf of other people, such as children or those with diminished mental capacity. 

We also offer insight into how to best calculate compensation payout estimates for personal injury claims and how you could make a claim under No Win No Fee terms. If you would like free legal advice relating to the personal injury claims time limit, or you’d like us to connect you with an injury lawyer, please do not hesitate to call the team on 0161 696 9685. We’d be happy to help you.

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A Guide To Time Limits For Personal Injury Claims

The time limit for personal injury claims could differ depending on whether you are claiming on behalf of someone else and the specifics of the personal injury you or they’ve suffered. When it comes to claiming compensation, you rarely have an infinite amount of time to claim. In fact, under the Limitation Act 1980, you may have less time to claim than you realise. 

In addition to this, in some cases, the limitation period would begin on the day of the accident. However, in others, it may begin on the day you became aware you sustained an injury or illness, which could be much later.

There are other rules in place when it comes to claiming on behalf of children, claiming as the dependent of a person who has lost their life, and claiming on the behalf of those who do not have the mental capacity to claim themselves. 

For someone with no prior knowledge of the law, this could be complicated and confusing. That is where we come in. We have put this guide together to help people understand how long they could have to claim in various situations.

What This Guide Covers

The sections below are designed to answer frequently asked questions about the time limit on personal injury claims, such as:

  • How long after an accident can you claim in the UK?
  • How long after a car accident can you claim in the UK?
  • Is the personal injury claim time limit different for criminal injury claims?
  • How long do you have to report a car accident to your insurance company?
  • When does the limitation period begin?
  • How long after an accident at work can you claim?
  • What’s the difference between the date of the incident and the date of knowledge?
  • How does claiming on behalf of someone else affect how long I have to claim?
  • How long does compensation take after medical negligence?

We also look at the compensation amounts that could be appropriate when claiming for various injuries and explain what types of damages claimants could include within personal injury claims. We hope you find the information here useful. If you have further questions or would like to benefit from our expert advisors’ free legal advice, you can contact us at any time.

Calculating Compensation In Personal Injury Claims

Lawyers take into account the specifics of each case when calculating compensation payouts. They consider the specific circumstances and facts surrounding the case, as well as medical evidence. Claimants of personal injury claims undergo medical assessments, at which point an independent medical expert asks them questions, reviews any available medical notes and examines them. The expert writes a report that could be used not just for evidence but also to help correctly deduce a claim’s value.

The Judicial College Guidelines

Instead of using an online personal injury claims calculator to illustrate compensation amounts, we have opted to provide you with values taken from the Judicial College Guidelines. This is a publication containing compensation recommendations that lawyers often use to come to appropriate settlements for personal injury claims. If your injury isn’t on the table, we can provide you with further guidance over the telephone.

Injury SiteSeverityCompensation Bracket
NeckSevere£42,680 - £139,210
NeckModerate£7,410 - £36,120
NeckMinorUp to £7,410
BackSevere£36,390 - £151,070
BackModerate£11,730 - £36,390
BackMinorUp to £11,730
ShoulderSevere£18,020 - £45,070
ShoulderModerate£7,410 - £11,980
Pelvis/HipsSevere£36,770 - £122,860
Pelvis/HipsModerate£11,820 - £36,770
ArmSevere£90,250 - £122,860
LegSevere£36,790 - £127,530
LegModerate£26,050 - £36,790

Additional Compensation You May Be Awarded

When it comes to valuing potential compensation payouts, there are two heads that could be included. These are known as general damages and special damages, and are calculated as follows:

General Damages

These aim to cover any suffering, pain, and loss of amenity you might have sustained because of your injuries. The amounts in the table above are examples of general damages. 

Special Damages

Special damages are the pecuniary (financial) expenses that result from your injuries. There are lots of different types of special damages you could claim back. They could include:

Travel Costs

If you pay to travel to hospital appointments to get treatment for your injuries or visit your lawyer as part of your claim, you could claim travel costs. This also includes the use of public transport if your injuries hinder your ability to drive. 

Care Costs

If you sustain severe injuries causing you to need help at home with toileting, washing, or dressing, your claim could include such care costs. This will cover both professional and gracious care. Gracious care is when you are helped by friends or family members. 

Medical Costs

You may have to pay for things associated with your medical care, such as medicines, private physiotherapy or private counselling. If you do, you could include such costs within your claim.

Loss Of Earnings

If you sustain income losses because you have to take time off work to recover from your injuries, you could claim income loss. This also covers missed overtime or bonus opportunities. 

Funeral Costs

If you are claiming for someone who has passed away in a fatal accident, you could claim for funeral costs.

Proof Of Special Damages

Bills, payslips, receipts and bank statements should all be useful when claiming special damages. If you do not have proof of any expenses, it will be difficult to claim them back.

What Are Limitation Periods For Personal Injury Claims?

When it comes to claiming personal injury compensation, there are certain things you would have to prove. One is that someone else had a responsibility (duty of care) towards you, and their action or inaction breached that responsibility.

You would also have to prove that their negligence caused you to sustain an injury. But these are not the only restrictions to making a personal injury claim. You would also have to claim within the appropriate time limit for the type of personal injury claim you’re making.

Why Is There A Time Limit On Personal Injury Claims?

Time limits for different claim types are enshrined in law under the Limitation Act 1980, which came into force on 1st May 1981. This act lists how long people could have to take legal action in a variety of cases. Most limitation periods for personal injury claims are detailed in section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980 (LA 1980). However, some exceptions appear in section 33 of the Act related to discretionary exclusions.

If you’re wondering how long after an accident you can claim in the UK, you can always call our team for free legal advice. Our experts could help ascertain whether you still have time to claim before the limitation date. If you are within a reasonable timeframe before the end of the limitation period, they could quickly connect you with a personal injury solicitor to help you start your claim.

When Does The Limitation Period Begin?

In general terms, the limitation period begins on either the date of the incident or the date you obtained knowledge of the incident and subsequent injury caused by someone else.

What Is The Date Of The Accident Or Incident?

This is the date you sustained injuries as the victim of medical negligence, a car accident, a workplace accident, or a slip, trip or fall in a public place, for example. In many cases, people are aware of their injuries immediately as an accident occurs. In this situation, your limitation period would begin on the date you sustained those injuries.

The Date Of Knowledge

In other cases, you might not be aware of your injuries right away. This may be because your injury symptoms were not present at the time of the incident. In other cases, you may develop symptoms after a long time has passed. For example, work-related asbestosis symptoms may begin some years after your exposure to asbestos in the workplace. In this case, the date of knowledge would be when you either receive a diagnosis of work-related asbestosis or are given enough information to make the connection between your past employment and your condition

Is There A Time Limit On Child Injury Claims?

The personal injury claim time limit that applies to child injury depends on who is claiming:

  • If a child is injured in an accident, their litigation friend (usually a parent or guardian) could claim compensation on their behalf from the date of the accident to their eighteenth birthday.
  • If no one has claimed on behalf of the child before them turning eighteen, they could launch a claim themselves. The three-year limitation period would begin on the date of their eighteenth birthday. Therefore, they could have until they turn 21 to claim for themselves.

Is There A Time Limit On Car Accident Claims?

If you sustain injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, you could be eligible to claim compensation. You could make a car accident claim as a:

  • Passenger
  • Driver
  • Pedestrian
  • Cyclist
  • Motorcyclist

Usually, the time limit on personal injury claims of this type is three years from the date of the accident. 

How Long Do I Have To Report A Car Accident To My Insurance Company In The UK?

If you’re wondering how long after a car accident can you claim on insurance in the UK, this would usually depend on your policy. We would always urge those who have car accidents to report them to their insurance company right away. Late reporting of an accident to your insurance company could lead them to cancel your policy and refuse to insure you in the future.

How Long After An Accident Can You File A Claim In the UK With The Motor Insurers’ Bureau?

If you suffer injuries in an accident with an uninsured or untraceable driver, you could claim compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). Again, there is a three-year personal injury claims time limit associated with such claims.

Is There A Time Limit On Fatal Accident Claims?

If you are claiming because you have lost a loved one in a fatal accident, you may wonder if the time limit is different from other types of personal injury claims. Whether you are claiming as a dependent or the estate of the deceased, the limitation period is three years from:

  • The date of the person’s death


  • The date the death is linked to an accident/incident

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal accident, we could offer free legal advice on whether you could make a claim.

Is There A Time Limit On Criminal Injury Claims?

If you are launching a criminal injury claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), there are also time limits in place. According to Government guidance, you should apply as soon as reasonably possible. The time limit for such claims is usually two years. However, there are exceptions to this limit, including:

  • Applications that couldn’t be made earlier due to exceptional circumstances.
  • Those who were previously unable to apply under the same-roof rule as they lived with their attacker.
  • Applications from those under 18 at the time of the incident.

Exceptional circumstances could include those who were victims of historical abuse. If you’re unsure whether you could claim for criminal injury, we could offer free legal advice to you based on your specific circumstances.

Is There A Time Limit To Claim If The Victim Has A Diminished Mental Capacity?

Those who have diminished mental capacity are not subject to a time limit when claiming personal injury compensation. Similar to child injury claims, a litigation friend could file a claim on their behalf.

If a claimant recovered their mental capacity, they would be subject to a limitation period. For example, this period would only begin once they were discharged from treatment.

Is There A Time Limit On A Holiday Or Flight Injury Claim?

There are lots of time limits that could apply to holiday or flight injury claims. These would depend on the type of claim you were making and could include:

  • Package holiday accident claims: If you booked your holiday with a UK tour operator as a package but were injured, you could have three years to make your claim.
  • Flight only accident claims under the Montreal Convention: If you took an international flight between countries that were part of the Montreal Convention, you could have two years to claim.
  • Domestic flight claims: If you were flying within the UK, you could have three years to claim.

If you sustain injuries in an accident in another country, such as in a hotel, restaurant or on the road, please call us for free legal advice, as your claim could be subject to other rules. We’d be happy to help ascertain how long you could have to claim.

Could I Claim If I Am Close To The Three-Year Time Limit?

If you are considering launching a claim but are close to your personal injury claims’ time limit, you may be worried that you have left it too late. However, this may not be the case. Usually, solicitors prefer to have a few months to a year to file the legal paperwork associated with a claim. 

This gives them enough time to collect evidence and build a strong compensation case. It could even give them the option to negotiate compensation with the liable party without your case going to court.

If there is enough evidence but your claim is nearing the end of the limitation period, your solicitor could file protective proceedings to avoid your claim being time-barred. This could give them more time to collect evidence, investigate your claim or to negotiate a settlement.

Could I Claim After The Three-Year Time Limit?

We have already mentioned some ways in which you could claim after the three-year limit, such as:

  • Cases of historical abuse.
  • Claims by a parent on behalf of a child.
  • Some foreign accident claims.
  • Those relating to people with diminished mental capacity.

Exceptional Circumstances

In some extremely rare circumstances, a court may use its discretion to override the statutory limitation date under the Limitation Act 1980 Section 33. The court will need to consider the circumstances of the case. They will have to be satisfied that the claimant acted promptly once they became aware of their illness or injury. 

One such example of a case where Section 33 discretion was exercised was in Pearce & Others -v- The Secretary of State for Business, Energy And Industrial Strategy & Others [2018], where a judge allowed a deceased person’s wife to claim for her husband’s death despite many years passing from the date of knowledge.

Time Limits On Personal Injury Claims

Below, we have put together a table showing some of the most common time limits on personal injury claims.

SituationTime Limit
Criminal Injury Claims (Via CICA)Usually 2 years
Personal injury claims (workplace accidents, slips, trips and falls, public place accidents)Usually 3 years
Medical negligence claimsUsually 3 years
Package holiday accident claimsUsually 3 years
Child accident claims made by an adult acting on their behalfUsually until child’s 18th birthday
Claims for injuries sustained as a child, made once the child becomes an adultUsually Until 21st birthday
Fatal illness/injuryUsually 3 years
Claims made by others for those with diminished mental capacityUsually no limit
Claims for those treated under the Mental Health ActUsually 3 years from discharge date

As we mentioned, it would be wise to obtain advice on your own specific claim as soon as possible after the date of knowledge or the date of the accident. We would be happy to offer free legal advice over the phone.

No Win No Fee Personal Injury Claims

If you’re claiming within the time limit on personal injury claims and are looking for a personal injury lawyer to help you, you might want to look for one that works under No Win No Fee terms. You do not have to pay your lawyer upfront if they take your claim under these terms. The general process is as follows::

  1. You receive a No Win No Fee agreement from your solicitor. It contains details of a success fee that you would pay if they secure compensation for you. The fee is legally capped. It is usually representative of a small percentage of your total payout.
  2. You sign and send the agreement back. Your lawyer begins to build your case and starts to negotiate for compensation on your behalf.
  3. The compensation payout comes through. Your solicitor deducts the success fee, and the remaining balance is received by you.

If your solicitor doesn’t achieve a payout for you, you don’t pay the success fee. To learn more about No Win No Fee claims, and how they work, why not read our guide

Alternatively, you could call us with your questions, and our advisors will happily answer them. You should also get in touch if you are interested in using the services of one of our expert No Win No Fee personal injury lawyers. 

Contact Us

Now you know more about the time limit on personal injury claims, you may be looking for help with your claim. Our advisors could not only provide you with free legal advice, but they could also help to connect you with a solicitor to take your claim forward. All you need to do to contact our expert advisors is:

More Information

Claiming For Medical Negligence And Wrongful Death – Here, you can find out how to make a claim for medical negligence and wrongful death.

Criminal Injury Claims For Victims’ Families – If you’re considering claiming for a loved one killed through criminal injury, this guide could be useful.

Child Injury Claims -We provide further guidance on claiming for a child here.

Criminal Injury Claims – You can find out more about claiming for criminal injury from the CICA here.

Health And Safety At Work – You can read more about safety and health at work on the HSE website.

Litigation Friend – If you intend on claiming on behalf of someone else, you may need to apply to be their litigation friend.

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Edited by NH/HE