Claims for compensation for personal injury and loss can arise out of road traffic incidents, accidents at work, accidents on holiday, in a public place or on private property, following a slip, trip or fall, and as a result of defective products or services to name but a few examples. 

But if you wish to bring a claim for personal injury against either a person, company or other potential compensator, you have to ensure that you have commenced any court action within strict time limits, failing which you may lose the opportunity to claim for your losses completely.

So what are those time limits?

The Limitation Act 1980 states that the time limit for personal injury claims is 3 years from the date of the injury, or if later, 3 years from the date of your knowledge of the following;

  • That the injury sustained was significant / serious enough to justify bringing legal proceedings.
  • That the injury was either completely or partly attributable to an act or failing on the part of someone / some body else.
  • The identity of that person / body at fault.
  • Generally, the rule is that if you have not commenced your claim for personal injuries and issued that claim in the Courts by the 3 year cut off period, then you will no longer be able to pursue your claim.

There are however variations on the above time limits depending upon different types of personal injury claim. For example:

  • Accidents abroad and injuries sustained whilst travelling in an aeroplane, boat or international train may have a lesser time limit (often less than or 2 years).
  • Claims brought through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority where you have been the victim of and sustained injury as a result of a violent criminal act or offence, which also have a 2 year limitation period.
  • In Fatal Accident claims, the time period for a dependant to bring a claim is 3 years from the date of death, or if later, from the dependants’ knowledge as referred to above.
  • If you are under the age of 18 and have suffered an injury and loss then you have 3 years from the date of your 18th birthday.
  • If a person is of unsound mind / is disabled at the time of the accident / incident that caused the injury and loss, then time will not start to run until their recovery.

There is some scope for the Courts to extend the time limits imposed upon claims for personal injury in exceptional circumstances, but it is a balancing act taking into account the degree to which each party will be prejudiced if any extension is granted.

The message therefore has to be that if you have been injured and sustained loss, take active steps to bring your claim against the person / body at fault as soon as possible to prevent being time-barred at a later date and losing the opportunity to claim completely.

If you have had an accident and suffered injury in the last 3 years, but weren’t sure whether you could make a claim, please contact the team at Prettys on 01473 232121 or e mail Louise Plant at

Louise Plant
Senior Associate