Is there a time limit for personal injury claims?

At Birchall Blackburn Law we provide free initial legal advice on your personal injury claim. If we then decide that you have a decent case, we will act for you on a “No win – No fee” basis so  If you recently had an accident through no fault of your own there is nothing for you to lose from calling us straight away and indeed it is vital that you seek legal advice from a fully qualified specialist solicitor as soon as you can.

Most personal injury claims arise out of an accident which is caused by someone else’s negligence. Where the injured person is an adult and is immediately aware of injury as a result of an accident in the UK, the limit is three years from the date of the accident. In practice that means that before the third anniversary of the accident, the injured claimant must have either agreed a compensation amount or started a claim in the courts. There are some important exceptions to the usual 3 year deadline and these are summarised below.  

Personal Injury Claims Time Limits

Personal injury claims must be made within specific time limits – so it’s important to know how long you have to claim compensation.

A key point to stress is that whatever the applicable time limit, it is essential to seek legal advice as early as possible so that your solicitor has enough time to investigate and prepare your case. Many firms have a policy of rejecting any enquiry if there is less than 3 or sometimes even 6 months of the time limit left to run. Cases are won and lost on evidence and almost without exception, the sooner the solicitor starts to work, the stronger the evidence the solicitor can obtain.

Here’s a quick guide to time limits for the different types of personal injury claims:

Type of injury Time limit
Serious & catastrophic injury 3 years from the date of the accident
Industrial disease 3 years from the date of diagnosis or knowledge of the disease
Medical & clinical negligence 3 years from the date of the negligent treatment (or knowledge that the treatment was negligent)
Road traffic accidents 3 years from the date of the accident
Accidents at work 3 years from the date of the accident
Public liability claims 3 years from the date of the accident
Criminal injury 2 years from the date of of the crime (i.e. the assault)
Fatal accidents 3 years from the death – or 3 years from the when the dependent becomes aware that they had a potential claim for the deceased
Claims on behalf of a child under the age of 18 Whatever the deadline is does not start to run until the child is 18. So in a normal accident case the deadline expires on the claimant’s 21st birthday
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) Seven years from the date of the injury
Accidents abroad Usually depends on the law of the foreign country
Accidents on ships Usually 2 years from the date of the accident
Accidents on aeroplanes Usually 2 years from the date of the accident


Your time limit starts either on the date of the injury itself or, if it’s not an obvious injury, when you have all the correct ‘knowledge.’

This is referred to as ‘the date of knowledge’ and it means you have knowledge that you had been injured and it was someone else’ fault. This is usually obvious from day one but not always.

What happens if I miss the time limit for my personal injury claim?

If you miss the limit for your personal injury claim then the defendant will argue that the claim is time-barred. This means your claim is likely to be dismissed by the court unless the judge can be persuaded to use a discretionary power to extend the usual cut off. Exceptional circumstances will be required to persuade a judge to extend the deadline so it is better to start early and avoid being in that position by seeking early advice.

As a result, it’s important that you make your personal injury claim within the time limit and seek legal advice as soon as possible.  Even If your case has been rejected by another firm or if you feel that you might have missed the deadline we are happy to speak to you. Birchall Blackburn Law act on behalf of the people seriously injured in Road Traffic Collisions and also the families of fatal accident victims. We act on a  “No Win – No Fee “ basis.

To contact us for more information or for a free no obligation consultation, please call us on 0800 614 722 or request a call back here.