Do you have the time?

16 April 2014

Many people may be aware that if you choose to make a legal claim, you have to do so within certain timescales to ensure your claim has the best chance of success. But do you actually know the details of these timescales? If you or someone you know has been injured, knowledge of these details can be crucial to the success of your claim.

It is important to be aware that different types of legal claims have varying time limits and if you miss these deadlines, you may not be able to make a claim at all.

If you are injured in an accident, you have three years from the accident date to begin a compensation claim. If legal proceedings are not commenced at Court by the third anniversary of your accident, you will, in all likelihood, lose the ability to claim.

  • If you are injured as a result of what you believe to have been negligent medical treatment, you still have a time period within which to make a claim. However, in this instance, it will be three years from the date that you knew that your injury was linked to the negligent treatment. This can be some years after the initial treatment was received.
  • Longer periods of time can also apply if your ‘injury’ is actually a disease process. An example of this is where there has been exposure to asbestos, where it may be many years after exposure before you realise that you have developed an asbestos related disease.
  • In fatal accident cases, the three year time period begins from the date of death in an accident case or the date that the death was linked to negligent treatment in medical negligence cases. Alternatively, if someone dies whilst in the middle of a claim, the three year timescale will begin again from the date of their death which allows their family time to continue with the claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
  • In cases involving children, the three year time period runs from the child’s 18th birthday.
  • If the injury occurs outside the UK, the time limit for making a claim for compensation may be different, as laws differ in each country. If you are injured at sea, in an aeroplane or even in a hot air balloon, you may only have two years to bring a claim, as a result of the terms of international conventions.
  • Other legal actions have different deadlines. For example, in a contract claim, you have six years from the date when the contract was breached. In a claim for fraud, the deadline is normally six years from the date that the fraud was uncovered.

It is therefore exceptionally important, before considering whether you wish to make a legal claim, to determine whether or not the time for bringing such a claim has expired. If the time has expired then you may be prevented from claiming. Obtaining legal advice sooner rather than later is therefore very important.