There is an injury compensation time limit within which personal injury compensation claims have to be made. The law governing the time limit is the Limitation Act of 1980 and the “Statute of Limitations” within the Act places a strict time limit on initiating a personal injury claim after an injury has been identified. Any claims made after the expiration of the Statute of Limitations are likely to be time-barred.
The standard time limit for personal injury claims is set from the date an injury is sustained, or from the date that the symptoms of an injury are diagnosed if an injury is not immediately apparent. The time limit for injury compensation claims may be reduced depending on the nature of injuries and the circumstances of each individual case. Consequently, it is essential that legal advice is sought at the earliest opportunity to ensure that a claimant´s eligibility to compensation is not jeopardised by limitation law.
Injury Compensation Time Limit for Personal Injury Claims
The injury compensation time limit for most personal injury claims is three years, although this depends on the nature of the accident and injuries. If the injury has been caused by a physical assault, the injury compensation time limit is two years. It is also two years if the injury was sustained on board an aircraft, although many more exceptions to this rule apply. Due to the complexities of limitation laws, seeking legal advice is the best way to ensure that a personal injury claim can be made within the correct timeframe.
Proving Negligence in an Injury Compensation Claim
In order to claim injury compensation, it has to be proven that the injury was the result of negligence – with the exception of air travel where liability is accepted for any injury sustained as a condition of carriage. In all other cases it has to be proven “on the balance of probability” that the injury could have been avoided if reasonable precautions were taken and that a third party is in breach of its duty of care.
Time Limit for Industrial Disease Compensation Claims
The Limitation Act 1980 places a strict timescale on claiming; however not all claims are possible within three years from an injury occurring. Symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses, for example, may not manifest until years after exposure, and in cases such as these different limitation rules apply. The injury compensation time limit in this example starts from the moment of discovery, or when an asbestos-related illness was first diagnosed.
This “delayed” time limit for industrial disease compensation claims will also apply in other cases where the “date of knowledge” of an injury occurs a long time after the injury has actually occurred.
The time limit for injury compensation claims can be complicated in other occupational injury claims – such as vibration white finger compensation claims and compensation claims for repetitive strain injuries. Even in medical negligence claims, where a mistake during surgery or the administration of an incorrect medication may not be discovered for many years, it may be a long time after an injury started developing before symptoms manifest and it is possible to support a claim for personal injury with medical evidence.
Injury Compensation Time Limit for Injury to a Child
Injuries to children also have a three-year injury compensation time limit; however the clock does not start until the child´s 18th birthday. Claims may be commenced before this deadline by a parent or guardian acting as the child´s “litigation friend”, although it is advisable to delay proceedings until the full nature of the child´s injuries has become apparent.
Injuries sustained to a baby at birth may take many years to be correctly diagnosed, and the impact of the injury to their future quality f life should be assessed before a claim for personal injury compensation is initiated on the child´s behalf.
Seek Medical Treatment and Report your Injuries
Following any personal injury, your health is of paramount importance and seeking appropriate treatment needs to be the number one priority. A visit to hospital or a doctor is a necessity following any injury, as the failure to seek immediate medical treatment could be viewed as contributing to the extent of an injury by the claimant. A medical record of injuries is vital evidence to back up any claim, and the medical record will be used to prove injuries in any personal injury compensation claim.
Accidents and injuries need to be reported to the appropriate authorities, and a report entered into any relevant “accident book” should the accident take place in a public facility, business or office. The police should be notified for all road traffic accidents – and any serious injury or fatality – and a report made at the police station if they do not take a statement at the scene.
Successful claims made within the time limit for injury compensation claims will result in damages being awarded to cover injuries and loss. Awards are calculated based on the severity of injuries, and include many calculations to arrive at a suitable figure. Special damages are awarded to cover any financial expenditure necessary as a result of the injuries sustained. Special damages also cover loss of earnings, and future medical costs for as long as they are required.
General damages are awarded for personal suffering and loss, and compensation payments can vary considerably. A value is assigned to a particular injury, and the pain and suffering that this has caused. Loss of amenity and the ability to perform day to day tasks is also covered under general damages, as are any psychological injuries you may have sustained.
Offers of Settlement
With the help of a compensation solicitor, most compensation claims never actually reach the courts, and a settlement is agreed between lawyers and insurers. However sometimes insurers can take a proactive approach, and attempt to settle a case before it is even filed. Where negligence can be proved, and liability is accepted, a settlement may be offered directly to the injured party.
Accepting payment for damages is for full and final settlement, and no further claim can then be made. It is important to first consult a solicitor before accepting an unsolicited offer of settlement from an insurance company, to ensure that the offer of compensation is fair and adequate for the injuries that have been sustained. Using a specialist compensation solicitor will almost certainly increase the chances of success, and can have an important bearing on the value of any compensation settlement.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
The Law of Limitation can be complex, and the circumstances and nature of the injury can affect the time limit for injury compensation claims significantly. After this time period has elapsed, it may be possible to proceed with a claim if a judge can be convinced of a valid reason for delay. In cases where obtaining evidence to back up a claim is long winded, an application to increase the injury compensation time limit could possibly be made.
Any increase to the time limit for injury compensation claims will almost certainly cause the defence to claim a statue breach and attempt to have the claim struck. Only in rare circumstances will an extension to the injury compensation time limit be granted, and changes to the time limit for injury compensation claims are entirely at the discretion of a judge.
The injury compensation time limit is rigidly enforced, so it is vital that a compensation solicitor is contacted promptly, to ensure that a claim is made within the time limit for injury compensation claims.