The law imposes very strict time limits for bringing claims for personal injury and clinical negligence.  If you fail to act within those time limits you are likely to be prevented from making a claim, irrespective of how strong your case is. 


The usual rule for adults is that you have three years from the date of the accident in which to bring a personal injury claim.  If your claim has not been settled, or court proceedings have not been issued, by the third anniversary of the accident your claim will become statute-barred and you will not be able to pursue it.


There is also a three year limitation period which applies to children’s claims, however, the time period does not begin to run until the child’s 18th birthday.  This means that the child’s claim must have either settled or court proceedings have been issued before their 21st birthday.

If your child is injured in an accident that was not their fault, you can either begin the claim on their behalf straight away or leave it to them to do so when they reach the age of 18.

It is advisable to consider a claim as soon as possible after an accident as it is likely to be much easier to locate witnesses and get accurate recollections of events at that time.

Any settlement agreed on behalf of a child must be approved by the Court to ensure that the child’s best interests have been properly protected.  The compensation will then be held in the Court Funds Office until the child reaches the age of 18. 

Clinical Negligence

Time limit issues in clinical negligence claims can be difficult and often a point of dispute between the parties.  The reason for this is that, as a patient, you may not be immediately aware that something has gone wrong with your treatment and may not experience the effects for some time (or may attribute the effects to something other than negligent treatment).

In clinical negligence cases, the three year time limit begins from the time that you become aware that negligent treatment is the cause of your injury and/or illness even if this is sometime after the treatment itself.

Industrial Disease

Similarly to clinical negligence claims, the time limit for industrial disease claims (e.g. Noise Induced Hearing Loss, Vibration White Finger/Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and asbestos-related disease) is a difficult issue.  Often the symptoms of these conditions do not begin until many years after exposure.

The three year limitation period does not start to run until the time you first have ‘knowledge’ of the disease.  The start date will usually be the date you are diagnosed by your doctor.  

Criminal Injury

If you have been an innocent victim of a violent crime and sustained a physical or psychological injury as a result, there is a two year time limit in which you are entitled to make an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency (CICA).

This time limit is applied very strictly and, in the event that you miss the deadline, the CICA is unlikely to be willing to consider your application unless there are exceptional reasons why you did not apply in time.

Fatal Accidents

In fatal claims, the personal representatives of the victim are entitled to pursue a claim on the victim’s behalf.  The three year time limit applies here.

If the victim has already commenced a claim prior to their death and within 3 years of the date of the accident (or date of knowledge in a clinical negligence or industrial disease claim), the personal representatives can continue the claim on behalf of the deceased.  The personal representatives have three years from the date of death to do so.

Further Information

In order to minimise the risk of being out of time to make your claim, it is advisable to seek specialist advice as soon as possible.  Contact our team of expert personal injury lawyers to speak to someone today.

Your first meeting with us, whether at home, the hospital or at our offices, will always be completely free. Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.