How long after an accident at work can you make a claim?

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Making a work accident compensation claim can be overwhelming. You may feel unsure about claiming against your employer or be confused by your legal rights, including how long you have to make a claim after the accident happened.

No matter where you work or what job you do, your employer has a legal responsibility to keep you safe from injury. This applies whether you are a permanent member of staff or you have a temporary contract.

And yet, statistics show that many work-related injuries, illnesses and even fatalities, are recorded every year.

In the year between 2020-2021, 1.7 million working people suffered from work-related illnesses, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This included 441,000 working people sustaining an injury at work, 2,369 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2019) and 142 workers killed at work.

If you think your employer’s negligent working practices has led to you having an accident at work, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.

It’s important to know that there are strict time limits applied to personal injury compensation claims, known as limitation periods. This means you should always seek advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor as soon as possible.

Time limits for work accident compensation claims

You typically have 3 years to make a compensation claim from the date that your work accident took place. This time limit also applies if you are diagnosed with a work-related medical condition.

There are a few exceptions to the 3-year time limit, including:

  • If you were under 18 at the time of the accident, the 3-year time limit applies from the date of your 18th birthday.
  • If you are making a claim on behalf of a loved one who lacks mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. For example, if they suffered a traumatic brain injury. In cases like this, there is no time limit for claims.
  • If you had a work accident that happened overseas, the time limit in the country where the accident happened will apply.
  • If you had a work accident that occurred in the air, on a boat or ship, the time limit is 2 years.
  • If the accident was fatal, then the time limit for making a claim is 3 years from either the date of the death or the date of knowledge of the person who died, whichever is later.

Find out more information about these exceptions our blog about time limitations.

Illness due to your employer’s negligence

Another exception may apply if you haven’t realised for some time that your work-related illness was due to your employer’s failure to protect your health and safety.

For example, diseases caused by exposure to asbestos may not develop until several decades after.

In some cases, like this, the time limit is measured from the date you first became aware your injury or illness was due to someone else’s mistake or negligence.

How to get help with personal injury claims

Time limit rules can be complex. If you had an accident at work more than 3 years ago, you may still be eligible to make a compensation claim, but it is important to talk to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible.

Your solicitor will be able to provide specialist advice based on your individual circumstances. They will explain more about the time limits that apply to you and what you should be aware of before starting your personal injury compensation claim.

To find out more, contact our specialist serious personal injury solicitors on Freephone 0800 884 0777 or email to arrange a free, no-obligation chat.

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