Is There A Time Limit To Claim For A Car Accident?

By Daniel Moore. Last updated on 7th January 2022. If you have been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could claim compensation. An important question people may have is whether there is a time limit for a car accident claim. In most circumstances, there is a window of opportunity you’ll have to start a personal injury claim following an accident. This includes potential claims made on car accidents.                          

In this guide, we will explain what time limits exist for personal injury claims for injuries caused in car accidents. We’ll also explain how you can get support for your potential car accident claim from UK Law.

Generally, there is a three-year time limit from the date of the accident. However, there are exceptions. For example, if you’re unable to claim due to a reduced capacity or if the claimant is under 18. These are two cases in which the time limit can be extended.

Bear in mind that this is a simplified explanation. Read on for more detailed information.

Get In Touch With Us Today

At UK Law, we can offer free specialist advice on different kinds of personal injury claims. If you have any questions about car accident claims, then we are happy to help. You can contact us for support.  You can do this by using the pop-up chat box in the corner or our claim online form. We are also available by phone. Call us on 020 3870 4868

Services And Information

  1. Important Information On Car Accident Claim Time Limits
  2. What Is A Car Accident Claim Time Limit?
  3. What Are Personal Injury Claim Limitation Periods?
  4. How Long After A Car Accident Could I Make A Claim?
  5. The Three Year Time Limit
  6. Car Accident Injury Claim Compensation Calculator
  7. Could I Make A Car Accident Claim Close To The Time Limit?
  8. Statute Barred Proceedings And Court Cases
  9. Under 18s Car Accident Claim Time Limits
  10. Could The Car Accident Claim Time Limit Be Extended?
  11. I Suffered Injuries In A Car Accident, What Should I Do?
  12. Car Accident Claims On A No Win No Fee Basis
  13. Contact Us For More Help
  14. Other Information
  15. FAQs About Car Accident Claim Time Limits

 Important Information On Car Accident Claim Time Limits

Have you been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault? Did you suffer an injury as a direct consequence? Are you able to prove that a third party who owed you a duty of care was at fault for the accident? If so, it’s worth exploring the possibility of claiming compensation.

Car accidents can cause all sorts of different injuries to people. They can also cause a lot of damage to vehicles and other property which you may own. If you wish to make a personal injury claim for a car accident, it’s important to know how much time you have. 

Read on to find out more about the standard time limit is for starting a personal injury claim. We’ll also explain how certain circumstances can affect the claim time limit. We’ll also advise on calculating your potential compensation payout. The actions to take if you are the victim of a car accident will also be explained.

What Is A Car Accident Claim Time Limit?

When a car accident occurs, there’s usually a time limit for you to start a claim. It is normally three years from the date the incident happened. This time limit is set by law, but an exception can be made under certain circumstances.

time limit for a car accident claim

What is the car accident claim time limit?

It’s worth pointing out that car accidents usually need to be reported to your insurer if you’re involved in one as a driver. The accident will also need to be reported to the police if injuries or damage to property has occurred and you did not exchange your details at the scene of the accident. If you did not exchange your details with third parties who had a legitimate reason to ask for them you must report the incident to the police within 24 hours. 

What Are Car Accident Claims?

Car accidents are a type of road traffic accident (RTA) that involve at least one car. RTAs are defined as accidents involving a vehicle on a road or public area which has caused injury or damage to people, animals, property and/or other vehicles.

This means at any of the following could potentially be a victim of a car accident:

  • Drivers
  • Motorcycle riders
  • Passengers
  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Horse riders
  • Owners of property (when property gets damaged by an RTA)

Road Traffic Accident Statistics

Injuries of various severity can take place on the road. The cause of these accidents can also be a number of things. The graph below has been put together using government statistics for the year ending June 2021.

The figures relate to the injuries caused by injudicious drivers. They have also been categorised by the severity of the injury. Slight injuries could be something minor like mild whiplash, for example. A serious injury could be broken bones or possibly even paralysis.

A fatal injury is when the victim passes away as a result of their injuries. A relative can still make a claim on the behalf of a deceased family member.

As you can see from the graph, the leading cause of slight, serious, and fatal injuries is exceeding the speed limit. Speeding on the road can lead to high-impact collisions between vehicles and pedestrians, resulting in a wide range of injuries.

The time limit for a car accident claim would begin from the date of these accidents. Whilst it can be less common in road traffic accidents, an alternate start date of this time limit can be from the date you are made aware of your injuries if this date differs from the date of the accident itself. This is known as the date of knowledge.

Time limit for a car accident claim statistics graph

Time limit for a car accident claim statistics graph

If you have any questions regarding when the start date of your 3-year time limit began, get in touch with our advisors today.

What Are Personal Injury Claim Limitation Periods?

For most personal injury claims, the time limit for starting the claim is three years from when the incident took place. This time limit is set by law thanks to section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980 (LA 1980).

With some personal injury cases, the three-year time limit for claiming might start later than the date of the incident. If injuries suffered by a claimant can’t be identified immediately, then the time limit starts from the day when their injuries could be diagnosed. The time limit, therefore, starts from what is called the date of knowledge.

One way this scenario could happen is when a victim suffers a whiplash injury from a car accident. The symptoms of a whiplash injury are not always noticeable immediately after a car accident. So if a victim has no other injuries, they may initially assume they were unharmed in the car accident. Therefore, the time limit for claiming may only start once the whiplash injury becomes noticeable, which may take a few days after the accident happened.

The period within which you must start your claim is formally known as the limitation period. The deadline for when you must have a claim underway is called the limitation date. There are more exceptions to this time limit period so please read on for more information. 

How Long After A Car Accident Could I Make A Claim?

It is always recommended that if you want to start a personal injury claim for a car accident that you do so as soon as possible. This applies whether or not the standard three-year time limit for claiming has been set for your accident.

Three years may at first sound like a long time for making a claim. Car accident claims can be complex and difficult to make. For instance, there may be difficulty in proving who was to blame for a car accident.

Therefore, an extensive period of evidence gathering could be required. Also, evidence is much easier to collect soon after an accident takes place. So are witness recollections. When time is allowed to lapse important information can be forgotten and evidence could be lost.  

The Three Year Time Limit

A three-year time limit from the date of the accident or date of knowledge is usually applied for potential personal injury claims. This means you must start the claim within three years. However, once started it can take as long as necessary to conclude. This time limit is typically applied to other kinds of personal injury claims too. However, there are certain circumstances in which the three-year time limit can become frozen, at least on a temporary basis.

For example, if a child is injured in a car accident, then the three-year time limit for claiming does not start immediately for that child. It remains frozen until the day the child reaches their 18th birthday.

A child is not able to start a personal injury claim on their own behalf. However, a representative known as a litigation friend could potentially start a personal injury claim on a child’s behalf. This representative is usually someone close to the injured child, as a parent or guardian. Once a child injured by a car accident reaches the age of 18, they can act on their own behalf in a personal injury compensation claim.

Another way the three year limitation period can become frozen is if a victim lacks the mental capacity to claim on their own behalf. This applies whether the accident or a pre-existing condition is responsible for the reduced mental capacity.

A victim may later recover enough mental capacity to represent themself in their own claim. If this happens, then the time limit for claiming will become active from the day of recovery. The time limit will start from the first day the victim is judged to have sufficient mental capacity. A litigation friend could potentially start a claim on behalf of someone who currently lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

Car Accident Injury Claim Compensation Calculator

Are you looking to make a personal injury claim? Then you may have questions about the compensation you could receive for it. Compensation payouts for injuries can vary substantially. One reason for this is that there are lots of different injuries which can occur.

The severity of any injuries you’ve suffered also has a big effect on your potential compensation. For guidance, we’ve included the table below which includes bracket compensation figures for certain injuries which can occur from a car accident. The figures come from the Judicial College guidelines, which solicitors may use to value injuries.

InjurySeverityCompensation
Brain or Head InjuryModerately Severe£205,580 to £264,650
Brain or Head InjuryLess Severe£14,380 to £40,410
Injuries Affecting SightLoss Of Sight In One Eye£46,240 to £51,460
Injuries Affecting SightMinor£3,710 to £8,200
Back InjuryModerate£11,730 to £36,390
Back InjuryMinorFrom around £2,300 to £11,730
Neck InjuryModerate£7,410 to £36,120
Neck InjuryMinorFrom around £2,300 to £7,410
Shoulder InjuryModerate£7,410 to £11,980
Shoulder InjuryMinorFrom around £2,300 to £11,410

The injuries and compensation figures listed above fall under ‘general damages’ as part of your potential payout. Compensation may also be given to you for ‘special damages’. This covers losses of a financial nature that are directly caused by your car accident injuries. Losses that could possibly be covered under special damages can include:

  • The cost of any medical are you require due to your injuries
  • Travel expenses directly related to receiving your medical treatment.
  • Loss of earnings that have occurred as a result of time off work

You can contact us today for a more specific estimate of the compensation you could receive for your case.

Could I Make A Car Accident Claim Close To The Time Limit?

The process of starting a personal injury car accident claim can begin at any time within the limitation period. However, it is always advisable to start your claim as soon as possible. If you wish to make a personal injury claim and you are getting close to the limitation date, then you should start your claim as soon as possible.

It may be difficult to get your claim started in time if you don’t start the process until near the end of your limitation period. Car accident claims can sometimes be complex. A long period of evidence gathering may therefore be required before your claim can start properly.

Statute Barred Proceedings And Court Cases

If court proceedings for a compensation claim are not started before the limitation date, then the claim becomes statute-barred and can no longer proceed. This usually happens when more than three years have passed since the date the relevant incident occurred (or the date of knowledge).

On rare occasions and at the court’s discretion, the limitation date may be overridden under Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980. It is unlikely that a court will override a limitation date unless there is an exceptional reason to justify this.

Under 18s Car Accident Claim Time Limits

Car accidents can potentially involve victims who are under the age of 18. Such victims can be entitled to personal injury compensation just as much as adult victims. A key difference is that the standard personal injury three year limit for starting a claim is frozen for victims below the age of 18.

Personal injury claims can be carried out by a representative called a litigation friend for a personal injury victim under 18. If a personal injury claim has not been made yet by the time the victim reaches their 18th birthday, then they will now have three years in which to start the claim on their own behalf.

Could The Car Accident Claim Time Limit Be Extended?

If you’re seeking personal injury compensation for an injury caused by a car accident, then it is unlikely that the standard three-year time limit for starting a claim will be extended. Unless there are exceptional circumstances. Such as you were in the hospital for a long period of time while you recovered.

The three-year limit is strictly implemented by law under the Limitation Act 1980. As mentioned above, there are certain circumstances where the personal injury time limit may be temporarily or even permanently frozen if a claimant is under 18 or lacking in mental capacity. However, once the time limit is activated, it is unlikely to be extended.

In rare cases, a court may allow the personal injury time limit for a claim to be extended in exceptional circumstances. This might only happen if something occurred which was beyond the control of the claimant or their legal representation and it prevented the claim from being started within the normal limitation period.

I Suffered Injuries In A Car Accident, What Should I Do?

If you have suffered injuries from a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be unsure of what steps you should follow. You may be entitled to compensation. To gain it, you will need evidence that shows the car accident you were in was caused by someone else’s negligent behaviour. You will also need to prove that your injuries were directly caused by the car accident.

Before you start collecting evidence, your first priority should be to seek the medical care. You should collect medical evidence for any treatments you receive for your injuries. This could include medical notes and discharge letters. This type of evidence could prove very useful later if you go ahead with making a compensation claim.

 If you were driving during your car accident, you should also inform your insurance provider about the incident. This should be done as soon as possible. Leaving it longer than necessary to report the accident to your insurer could invalidate the policy which covers your vehicle.

Assuming you want to proceed with a claim, you should start to collect other evidence once you’ve sufficiently recovered from your injuries. Evidence that may potentially support your claim could include photographs, dashcam/CCTV footage or witness contact details.

When you’ve collected the evidence available, you could then choose to hire a solicitor to support your claim. If you do so, we recommend hiring a solicitor who specialises in car accident claims. If a solicitor agrees to support your case, you can then sign a contract with them. They will then guide you through all the next steps to complete your claim.

Car Accident Claims On A No Win No Fee Basis

If you have decided that the best course of action is to have a solicitor represent your case then we always advise opting for one that offers a No Win No Fee Agreement. Signing a No Win No Fee agreement with a solicitor offers certain financial benefits to claimants. These include the following:

  • You’ll only need to pay your solicitor for their service if you win your case.
  • Your solicitor’s legal fees won’t need to be paid upfront or during the case.
  • It won’t be necessary either to pay your solicitor’s legal fees if the case goes ahead and proves unsuccessful.

Following a successful compensation claim, your solicitor takes a small percentage from your settlement to cover their fees. This is standard practice under a No Win No Fee agreement. Your contract with your solicitor should include specific details about the payment method.

Contact Us For More Help

You’re welcome to contact UK Law for free specialist advice on car accident claims. If you have any questions about this type of claim, our advisors can provide free advice. If the advisors can see that you have a valid case they could offer to introduce you to our panel of solicitors. Any claim that is handled by them will be on a No Win No Fee basis. We can also advise on other kinds of road traffic accident claims which don’t involve cars specifically. You can reach us:

Other Information

For more insight into car accident claims, you can read the additional information that’s been linked to below:

When And How To Report A Car Accident

This guide explains more on when you should report a car accident to relevant authorities and how to go about doing this.

What To Do If You’re Hit By A Car As A Pedestrian

Some road traffic accidents can involve a car hitting a pedestrian. If you’ve been a pedestrian in this type of accident, you can read this guide on how to claim for this type of incident.

Could I Claim Compensation For Car Accident Insurance Excess Fees?

Following a car accident, you may be required to pay an insurance excess fee. This guide explains how the excess fee works and how you could possibly claim the fee back as part of compensation.

Making A CCTV Footage Request

You have the legal right to request footage of yourself. This can be used as evidence during your claim.

NHS Information On Broken Bones

Read about the symptoms, treatment and more.

The Highway Code

Find out more about the rules that all road users are expected to follow in order to keep each other safe.

FAQs About Car Accident Claim Time Limits

In this final section to our guide on car accident claim time limits, we’ve answered some questions we are often asked.

Do claims need to go to court?

A car accident claim can be settled between the parties involved before it becomes necessary to go to court. If, however, no party accepts responsibility, or if a settlement can’t be agreed upon, then the case will be decided in a court trial.

Could I claim on behalf of someone else?

You can potentially make a car accident compensation claim on behalf of someone else in certain circumstances. A representative may be able to claim on behalf of a victim if they are below the age of 18 or lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

Will I need to visit a solicitor in person?

You should have the option to talk privately with a solicitor in whatever way you’re most comfortable with. You’re normally able to discuss your claim with a solicitor on the phone or by email. Full confidentiality should be guaranteed with any conversation you have with a solicitor about your claim.

Could I secure an early payout?

Following a car accident you were in, the insurer for the liable party may offer you a settlement which would bring an early end to the matter. It is up to you whether to accept such an offer if it comes along.

However, it could also mean getting less money than you potentially could have received through a compensation claim.

Thank you for reading our guide on the time limit for a car accident claim.

Writer PD

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