The Personal Injury Blog

Is there a time limit to bring a personal injury claim?

If you or a family member are considering whether to bring a claim for personal injury, it is very important that you know about the time limits which affect it.

The injured person must either settle the claim, or start court proceedings to protect it, within a 3-year time period (known to lawyers as the ‘limitation period’). The limitation period will start to run from the date of the accident.

There are shorter limitation periods for accidents which occur outside of the England and Wales, and different rules for accidents as on-board aeroplanes or boats or accidents in different countries. These can be much shorter than 3 years.

There are also different rules around limitation dates for accidents suffered by children, or people who do not have the capacity to manage their own affairs.

This time limits are fixed in law and is not something that solicitors are generally able to work around or negotiate. It is therefore very important to approach an experienced solicitor for advice as soon as possible.

Whilst some clients may choose not to bring a claim immediately, this is not the best approach. There are several important reasons for this, which include: –

Changes in the law

The law is not static and can change to the point where it denies an injured person from bringing a claim or reduce their prospects of succeeding.

Valuing the claim

To accurately value a claim, the solicitor will need to obtain a report from at least one specialist medical expert. If the client delays bringing a claim until they have recovered from their injuries, it may be difficult for the medical experts to prepare detailed reports and in turn, make it more difficult for the solicitor to value the claim.

Interim payments

Some people may think that they should wait until they have recovered. This is not the best approach. Our advice is that you should do it early as, in some cases, your solicitor may get you some compensation up front, as an interim payment, which could assist with paying for private treatment, therapy and care.

Evidence may be lost

In the case of real evidence (such as CCTV footage, machinery and equipment), items may be lost, sold or in the case of CCTV footage, overwritten or erased. This evidence can often be the difference between winning and losing a claim. The earlier you instruct a solicitor the better chance the evidence can be obtained.

Memories fade

Witnesses can also be the difference between winning and losing a claim and the longer time goes on, the more likely it is that people will have forgotten what happened. Witnesses may also relocate and be more difficult to contact.

Funding the claim

Some people worry that instructing a solicitor will be very costly, but this is not usually the case. Many clients will have a policy of legal expenses cover as part of their home, contents, or car insurance policies. This would usually cover their legal costs. It is important to know that some insurers need to know about the claim within 3 months, so it is vital that early steps are taken. In the alternative, claims can often be funded by way of a no-win, no-fee agreement (known as a conditional fee agreement) under which the solicitor can take up to 25% of compensation if the claim is successful.

Our advice is always to contact a solicitor as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the better the chance of a successful claim. If you would like a free and confidential discussion with one of our experts about any type of personal injury claim, please contact us on 0114 218 4000 or email

Martha O'Toole

Martha secured her Training Contract in the penultimate year of her undergraduate degree and joined Taylor&Emmet LLP as a Trainee Solicitor in September 2019.

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