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When Should You Speak To A Lawyer Following A Spinal Cord Injury?

03 August 2015

Did you know you have a limited window to bring about a claim following an injury or negligent treatment? You may have delayed instructing a lawyer in the hope that you would make a full recovery in your own time, or didn’t want to place any blame for your injury, or you just found the whole process slightly daunting. In today’s blog we explain the importance of contacting us as early as possible after your injury.

Speaking to a good lawyer as early as possible can help in many ways. Spinal cord injuries are complex and timely advice can ensure you get access to the right treatment, be it rehabilitation services, access to spinal cord injury experts or other support as required, as early as possible, potentially improving your long term recovery prognosis. Not only that, as lawyers we are only able to help you claim for compensation within given window of time, known as a ‘limitation period’.

The limitation period in which to bring a claim to Court (this is more than just instructing a lawyer) is usually three years from the date of injury or your date of knowledge. Your date of knowledge is the time at which you realised, or should have realised, the care or treatment you received was below an acceptable standard and you suffered harm as a result. This date can sometimes be difficult to determine and may involve detailed consideration of the facts and your medical records.

Seeking legal advice as early as possible can help your case in many ways; establishing the correct Defendant and ensuring that crucial evidence such as work risk assessments, or gaining medical records can take time. These are examples of some of the things that the lawyers can be doing for you whilst you are focusing on rehabilitation.

There are, however, some important exceptions to the limitation rule.

  • If the treatment in question applies to a child, the three year limitation period will not start until their 18th birthday. A child’s limitation period therefore expires on their 21st birthday.
  • Special rules apply for people who lack capacity due to a mental disability. In general, the three year period does not start until the disability ends and therefore in many cases there will be no time limit at all. The legal rules for this are specific and therefore it is best to seek advice regarding limitation.
  • Different, often shorter, limitation periods apply to injuries or accidents incurred during air, sea and general foreign travel. If you think this may apply to you it is particularly important to seek early legal advice.

The essence is to avoid delay. Three years sounds like a long time, but in some instances we cannot advise you until we have copies of your medical records, which can sometimes take many months to obtain. It takes time to investigate a claim so it is a good idea to seek advice early, before the limitation period is due to expire.

This article forms part of a series written for the Spinal Injures Association (SIA) ‘Ask the experts’ blog. As a Gold Corporate Partner of the SIA you can rest assured that we are legal experts in spinal cord injuries. We have many connections in the Spinal Injury world and have a great deal of experience and success in gaining appropriate compensation for our clients who have sustained a spinal cord injury.