Are there time limits for making personal injury claims?

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You may already be aware that there are time limits for making a personal injury claim or medical negligence claim. The general rule is that you have a maximum of three years from the date of your accident or injury. This is known as the ‘limitation period’.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Associate Solicitor Rebecca Brisley from our Plymouth office, who specialises in serious personal injury claims and has expertise in military injuries, explains more.

In some cases, the three-year time limit will apply from the date you first became aware your injury or illness was due to someone else’s negligence. This is called the ‘date of knowledge’. For example, if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it may have been many decades after your initial exposure. You will have three years from the date of your diagnosis to make an asbestos compensation claim.

Are there other exceptions to the limitation period?

Yes, there are other exceptions. In cases involving children, the three years does not start until the child reaches the age of 18. This gives the child the opportunity to make a claim when they are an adult for injuries they suffered growing up.

If you are making a claim for a loved one who lacks mental capacity and is unable to make decisions for themselves, there are no time limits.

There are other occasions when the time limit is shorter than three years. For example, there is a two-year time limit for accidents which happen at sea (or in the air depending on the circumstances) and in claims for criminal injuries under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority scheme.

Time limitation rules can be complex, so it is important to get advice from a specialist solicitor without delay if you are considering making a personal injury or medical negligence claim.

In certain, restricted circumstances, the Limitation Act 1980 allows the Court to use its discretion to disapply the time limit for bringing a claim. Your solicitor will be able to advise you about the time limit that is relevant to your claim.

What are the time limits for making a military claim?

Serving or retired military personnel have just as much right to make a personal injury claim as anyone else.

It has been reported in the news recently that there have been some proposed legislative changes which will restrict the ability of serving or retired military personnel to bring claims outside of the current time limits.

In short, Part two of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill would amend the Limitation Act 1980 to limit the court’s discretion to disapply time limits for personal injury actions brought by service personnel harmed on foreign tours.

Since 1987, the Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987, has allowed military personnel to claim for personal injuries sustained during service, where the MoD has failed in its legal duty of care.

‘Combat immunity’ does, however, mean that injuries sustained during an active operation or ongoing combat cannot be the subject of a claim but there may be circumstances surrounding the injury that could mean that you are able to pursue a claim. You may also be able to make a claim to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) and you have seven years from injury or diagnosis to bring an AFCS claim.

The current proposal is to allow a strict six-year time limit to bring a claim following either the date of injury or the date of diagnosis of an injury or illness. This legislation would effectively remove the ability of the Court to exercise its own discretion to disapply the time limit where claims are delayed. This essentially puts military personnel or veterans at a disadvantage when compared to their civilian counterparts as they will no longer have the right to apply to the Court to bring a claim out of time. Once the six-year time limit has passed, there is simply no other avenue that can be pursued, and the claim will be completely time-barred.

These are legislative proposals only at this stage, but if these rules are introduced, many of those who have served their country could find themselves unable to bring potentially substantial claims for compensation.

If you suspect that you may have a claim against the Ministry of Defence for injury or illness caused as a result of your service you should not hesitate to contact our expert team of specialist personal injury solicitors to discuss your situation in more detail.

Call Freephone 0800 884 0777 or email

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