There is a legal time limit for road traffic accident claims within England and Wales. A claim must be made within three years from the date of the injury, although there are different rules that apply for children, clients lacking mental capacity, criminal injury compensation claims, accidents on aeroplanes and ships.
The law requires an injured person to commence Court proceedings within the three year period and not just to consult a Solicitor with a view to proceeding with a claim.
Where the child is the injured person the three year limitation period does not begin to run until they reach their 18th birthday.
For patients under the Mental Health Act 1983, the time period does not begin until they cease to be a patient under the Act and their legal incapacity is removed.
If an adult or a child dies as a result of their accident, bereaved relatives may bring a claim on their behalf within three years of the date of their death.
The court is also able to extend the basic three-year limitation period at their discretion if the legal time limit period has expired. They only do so very rarely after examining a case and taking all the circumstances into account.
The claim period for criminal assault cases is two years from the date of the incident. In these cases the two year period will not be suspended to start from the 18th birthday of a child. It is the parents or guardians responsibility to make an application for compensation within the two year period.
Accidents that occur whilst on board an aeroplane or ship will usually be subject to a shorter time limitation period of 2 years although this can depend on the circumstances.
Please note that the time limits above may change and we recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after you have been involved in an accident and while the events are fresh in your mind.