An important consideration in a claim for personal injury is whether the victim of the accident is statute-barred from claiming. If the claim is without the time period specified in the Limitation Act 1980 then it may not be possible to claim.
The limitation date is generally calculated as three (3) years from the date of the accident (i.e. 1st January 2004 to 1st January 2007). There are certain exceptions to this:
- If the victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the accident then they have 3 years from the date of their 18th birthday to make a claim. For example, if Ben is injured in a car crash at the age of 15 and his 15th birthday was on 1st January 2004 then he would have until 1st January 2010 to make his claim.
- If the victim has serious mental health issues and has to be sectioned then the time for the limitation date of their claim runs from three (3) years from the date that they cease to be a patient
- Claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority must be made within 2 years of the accident date. For example, if you’re assaulted on 1st January 2004 and receive a broken nose then you have up until 1st January 2006 to submit your claim to CICA.
- Aircraft accidents and accidents at sea: there is a 2 years limitation date under the Carriage by Air Act 1961 and the Merchant Shipping Act 1995
- Common-law claims for assault-related injuries have a six (6) year limitation date
- If the date when the victim knew of the injury was a date after the accident date then the limitation date is calculated from when knowledge has been acquired, rather than the date of the injury (under s.11 of the Limitation Act 1980). This point is normally arguable in claims such as those which involve pleural plaques or serious psychological harm). However, the limitation date will not be extended if there is evidence that the failure to claim within the appropriate dates was because of ignorance of the law, unreasonable failure to make further enquiries, unreasonable failure to appreciate the significance of the injuries suffered, or unreasonable failure to take prompt medical or legal advice.
- If equitable to do so, the Court has the power to disapply the 3-year limitation date under s.33 of the Limitation Act 1980. The Court can only do so if it is equitable in the circumstances and there is no prejudice to the Defendant.
The above are all serious considerations in judging whether a victim of a personal injury claim is able to claim for personal injury or whether they are out of time.