A Guide On How Long After A Road Traffic Accident Can You Claim

By Mary Nora. Last Updated 6th December 2022. In this guide, we aim to answer the question “how long after a road traffic accident can you claim?”. If you’ve been injured in a car accident as the result of another road user’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation.

How long after a road traffic accident can you claim guide

A guide on how long after a road traffic accident you can claim

There are legal time limits for making out road traffic accident claims, however. In this article, we explain how they could affect you. Whilst there are no time limits on concluding personal injury claims once they have started, there is a general three-year limit to begin one. However, exceptions can apply in certain circumstances.

Find out more about the time limits by:

  • Calling our team on 0203 870 4868
  • Writing to us using our website
  • Using our ‘live support’ option to the bottom right of the screen for instant help to get started.

Select A Section

  1. How Long After A Road Traffic Accident Can You Claim?
  2. Do I Have Three Years To Make A Claim?
  3. Can I Claim If Close To The Three Year Time Limit?
  4. Have You Been Asked To See A Doctor Or Have A Medical Assessment?
  5. Road Accident Compensation
  6. Find Out More About How Long After A Road Traffic Accident You Can Claim

How long after a road traffic accident can you claim?

The time limits for personal injury claims are outlined in a piece of legislation called the Limitation Act 1980. This law states the various periods in which personal injury claims need to begin. The general rule is 3 years from either:

  • The date of the incident
  • The date when you knew (or should have known) that the injury was caused by negligence (‘date of knowledge’)

It’s possible to start a claim at any point during this process. It’s important to know that gathering evidence and preparing your case may take longer than anticipated, so we recommend that you get the process started as soon as possible. You can find out how long after a road traffic accident you can claim by speaking with an advisor from our team.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code requires all drivers and riders to adhere to the standards of skill and care of the average motorist on British roads. This means that all road users must act in a way that reduces the risk of injury to themselves and other road users.

Since January 2022, there have been some changes to the Highway Code. These Highway Code changes apply a greater level of responsibility to those road users who could potentially cause the greatest harm, such as HGV drivers and large passenger vehicles.

In addition to this, pedestrians and cyclists have been placed at the top of a ‘hierarchy of road users’ because of their vulnerability to serious injury. The changes in the Highway Code do not alter the three-year time limit for making a claim.

Whiplash Reform Program

The Whiplash Reform Program is a channel through which soft tissue injuries such as whiplash can be claimed for. Claims that are valued at £5,000 (or under) for drivers and passengers over 18 under now need to be processed through an online government portal called the Official Injury Claim service.

It is still possible to claim through the original method if your injuries are worth more than £5,000 or if you’re a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcycle rider. Once again, these changes do not alter the time limit of three years within which to start a personal injury claim.

For more information on how long after a road traffic accident you can claim, get in touch with our team of advisors.

Do I Have Three Years To Make A Claim?

Claims outside of the three-year period become known as ‘statute barred’. This means that it could be very difficult or even impossible for you to receive compensation

Whilst three years is the standard period for making a claim, there could be exceptions to this limit in your case. For example, if someone is receiving care under the Mental Health Act 1983, the three-year time limit is suspended might restart when they are discharged or recover from their condition.

For anyone under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the time limit is suspended unless they recover. While they’re unable to claim, a litigation friend can do so for them.

Road Traffic Accidents Involving Children

If someone under the age of 18 is injured in a car accident, then they cannot pursue their own claim for compensation. A litigation friend can pursue a claim on their behalf while they’re unable to do so. When the claimant turns 18, they can pursue their own claim provided one hasn’t already been made for them.

There are other circumstances where exceptions to this time limit might apply. For example, if you’re involved in a car accident while in a foreign country, the time limit might vary. For more information on the process of claiming for a car accident, speak with a member of our team today.

Can I Claim If Close To The Three Year Time Limit?

After an accident or collision that left you with injuries, you can still claim right up until the end of the three-year period. However, it is still important to initiate your claim as soon as possible. Collecting the evidence necessary for your claim and ensuring that you put forward as well-supported a claim as possible can take time.

While you can claim if you are close to the end of the three-year limitation period, this is not recommended. While the claim is being processed and evidence is being gathered, the time limit could pass and the claim could be statute-barred. For this reason, we always recommend starting a claim for compensation as soon as possible.

Our team of advisors can confirm how long after a road traffic accident you can claim and whether you’re currently within the time limit for claiming compensation. Speak with a member of our team today.

Have You Been Asked To See A Doctor Or Have A Medical Assessment?

You may be wondering, “do I need a medical report?“. After you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident, you should seek medical attention initially. In serious accidents, you might go to the hospital straight from the scene of the incident. In other cases, you might visit your GP or a walk-in centre in the days following the accident.

As well as this, an independent medical assessment will be carried out as part of your claim. This is where you will be invited to a meeting with an independent medical expert. They will assess your injuries and create a report; this report will be used to value your claim.

For more information on how long after a road traffic accident you can claim, speak with a member of our team today.

Road Accident Compensation

To claim compensation for a car accident, someone must have breached their duty of care, resulting in an injury. If another road user’s negligence caused your injury, you might have grounds to pursue road accident compensation.

Your road accident claim compensation could include general damages and special damages. You are compensated for your pain and suffering under general damages. If there is a related financial loss, it is compensated for under special damages.

How much your road accident compensation is worth in general damages is determined by considering various factors, including:

  • How severe your injury is
  • The impact of your injury on your quality of life
  • Loss of amenity

In addition to these considerations, solicitors are also guided by compensation amounts found in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The amounts in the table are taken from the JCG but do not take them as a guarantee of the road accident compensation you might receive, as they are only a guide.

Injury type how severe? Judicial College Guidelines award bracket notes
Brain Moderate (c) (i) £150,110 to £219,070 Brain injury that results in a degree of speech problem, personality change or memory loss, also an increased risk of epileptic fits
Neck Severe (a) (ii) £65,740 to £130,930

Cervical spine or disc damage and fracture, that results in permanent nerve damage or disability
Back Severe (a) (iii) £38,780 to £69,730 Re-occurring pain issues despite surgery, depression, loss of sexual function and impaired walk
Arm Severe (b) £39,170 to £59,860 Serious fractures that result in some type of permanent disability, either cosmetically or functionally
Leg Serious (iii) £39,200 to £54,830 Fractures of a compound or comminuted nature that need long periods of treatment and leave scarring and arthritis
Punctured organ Penetrating injuries (e) £12,590 to
Permanent issues created by a single puncture wound but with normal function and control eventually returning
Knee Moderate (b) (i) £14,840 to £26,190 Cases of torn cartilage that causes wasting and mild disability issues in the future
Psychiatric harm Moderate (c) £5,860 to £19,070 Cases where despite issues with work and normal function, there has been improvement by the time of trial
Wrist (b) £24,500 to £39,170 Where some useful movement remains despite permanent disability of a significant nature.
Fingers Severe Up to £36,740

These kinds of injuries might lead to partial amputations and deformity, impaired grip and a disturbance of sensation.

Special damages

As well as general damages to reflect the injuries, you could receive special damages as part of your claim. You could receive the cost of any expenses back as part of your claim, provided that you’re able to support this with evidence.

For example, proof of:

  • Lost income
  • Adaptations to your home or other disability needs
  • Essential domestic help from either paid carers or family
  • Medical  procedures not available on the NHS
  • Travel costs to and from the hospital or work
  • Costs for physiotherapy or counselling

Special damages can include a wide range of potential amounts if the evidence supports it. Furthermore, if you choose to work with a road traffic accident solicitor, they can advise about projected costs that could arise in the future.

An advisor from our claims team can help determine how long after a road traffic accident you can claim. Get in touch today using our contact details.

Find Out More About How Long After A Road Traffic Accident You Can Claim

Anyone is free to start a claim for compensation if they have adequate grounds to prove the other party caused their injuries through negligence. If you need help to start your claim, a No Win No Fee agreement can offer expert legal representation at no upfront costs.

A successful outcome requires a small deduction of a legally-capped success fee. In cases that do not win, your No Win No Fee solicitors take no payment at all. There is also nothing to pay upfront or as the claim progresses.

Find out how our panel can help you start your claim by:

  • Calling our team on 020 3870 4868
  • Emailing or writing to us at our website
  • Or by using the ‘live support’ option to the bottom of this screen

References And Resources

Thank you for reading this guide. We hope it has helped to answer the question of how long after a road traffic accident you can claim. In addition to time limits for cases such as this, you can read about:

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