Limitation Period In A Personal Injury Claim In The UK

By Emily Mochi. Last updated 26th April 2023. Have you suffered an injury at work or in public that wasn’t your fault? Did you contract an illness from your occupation and only became aware of it sometime later? If you suffered injury as the result of the negligence of someone who owed you a duty of care, you might be considering claiming compensation. But how long do you lawfully have to do this? What is the limitation period for injury claims? This guide aims to answer those questions for you.

Limitation period in a personal injury claim

Limitation period in a personal injury claim

A personal injury claim can seem like a big enough step as it is without worrying that you have run out of time to make one. In this article, we explain the facts around whether you can start your claim now and what exceptions there may be to the general 3-year time limit. Call us now if you would like to know if you could claim today:

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Services And Information

  1. Everything You Need To Know About Limitation Periods For Injury Claims In The UK
  2. What Is A Limitation Period For Injury Claims?
  3. How Far Back Could You Claim For A Personal Injury?
  4. What Is The Usual Limitation Period For Injury Claims?
  5. Limitation Period For Injury Claims – How Much Compensation Could I Claim?
  6. Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Time Limit
  7. Is There A Time Limit For Medical Negligence Claims?
  8. Is There A Time Limit On Child Accident Claims?
  9. Death Caused By A Fatal Accident
  10. Accidents Abroad
  11. The Limitation Period For Injury Claims Via The CICA
  12. Claiming For Accidents And Injuries On A No Win No Fee Basis
  13. Other Information About A Limitation Period For Injury Claims
  14. FAQ

Everything You Need To Know About Limitation Period For Injury Claims In The UK

The law supports your right to claim if you have valid grounds. After being injured because of the negligence of others that owe you a duty of care, you could seek compensation for your suffering.

In practice, claiming for injuries is not always clear cut. You may be harmed in a way that seems minor at first and then gets worse over time.

Also, you could be exposed to work practices that were proved to be hazardous like smoke-inhalation or asbestos. You may not know you were made ill until months or even years afterwards. Perhaps the firm you worked for has ceased trading. The owners may be long gone. What can you do then about a claim?

At UK Law we aim to help you by explaining the limitation period for injury claims whatever the circumstances. Our article will give you the information to make an informed decision about how to start a claim for compensation. We also explain how a No Win No Fee agreement could be an efficient type of legal arrangement for you and a solicitor.

It’s important to note that you don’t need to use the services of a solicitor to claim. You could do so alone. However, we believe our panel of solicitors have the experience and professionalism to help with your potential claim. To see if you could get connected, why not contact our advisors?

What Is A Limitation Period For Injury Claims?

Limitation periods are time limits that are placed on how long you are entitled to make a claim after an accident. The Limitation Act 1980 is a law that sets out the different time limits to start different claims.

For personal injury claims, the time limit to start a claim is generally 3 years from the:

  • date of the actual injury; or
  • the ‘date of knowledge’: when you became aware that negligence at least contributed to your injuries.

After this limitation date has passed, claims are referred to as ‘statute-barred’ which means its no longer possible to claim.

We will discuss the variations of that rule. Limitation dates can vary in other circumstances, so contact our advisors for precise clarity on how eligible you may be to still make a personal injury claim today.

How Far Back Could You Claim For A Personal Injury?

Generally, the 3-year time limit applies to personal injury claims. However, there are exceptions where the claimant’s injuries occurred some time ago.

For example, in cases of industrial disease, you might not have suffered symptoms or been aware that your health issues were caused by employer negligence until years after being exposed to the harm that caused your ill-health.

The start date to make a claim would begin from when you gained knowledge that negligence at least contributed to your illness. This could be when a doctor made the potential link, for example.

There’s also the instance of child accident claims. A 20-year-old could claim for an injury that happened to them when they were a child, providing nobody claimed on their behalf. Please see our section on child accident claims for more information.

What Is The Usual Limitation Period For Injury Claims?

The limitation period for negligence claims is typically 3 years, but there are notable exceptions and variances to that. The differing time scales for various types or scenarios of accident and injury can seem confusing, so the chart below offers an ‘at-a-glance’ general guide.

Injury claim typetime limit
Personal injury claims. (This includes any slip, trip and fall claims, road traffic accidents or accidents that happened at work, for example.)3 years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge
Injury claims on behalf of those who lack mental capacityThere isn't a limit. However, if the person recovers mental capacity, a litigation friend would have 3 years to claim from the date of recovery.
Injury claims on behalf of childrenUntil the child's 18th birthday. However, the child would have 3 years to claim from their 18th birthday if nobody had claimed on their behalf.
Fatal injury and illness claims3 years from the date of death or from when the cause of death is known
Package holiday claims3 years from the date of the accident or the date of knowledge.
Claims for accidents and illness abroad (not a package holiday)Varies from country to country
International flight-related claims2 years if it falls under The Montreal Convention 1999.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) claims2 years from the date of the incident (generally)
Medical negligence claims3 years from the date of negligence or the date you gained knowledge that negligence caused your injuries
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) claims7 years (generally)

Circumstances can vary and your individual claim may apply a different limitation period. Our advisors can tell you what time limit applies in one quick phone call, so why not get in touch? Their advice is free.

Who Pays Compensation?

It’s important to note that personal injury claims are generally made against the insurance companies that your old employer or a private operator had. Therefore, even if your employer has ceased trading it can still be possible to seek damages from their insurer.

Road traffic accident claims generally involve insurers too, and medical negligence claims often involve healthcare providers paying compensation.

Contact our team to discuss your case and we can give you a much clearer idea of your eligibility or any factors that may extend the limitation period for personal injury claims to be started.

Limitation Period For Injury Claims – How Much Compensation Could I Claim?

Compensation amounts depend on factors such as evidence. The results of an independent medical assessment can help to prove your claim of physical or emotional injury. A lawyer can compare the resulting medical report with injuries listed in a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines and arrive at a bracket award figure that may be deemed appropriate for you.

These amounts try to take into consideration the impact on your life after the injuries. Pain and suffering are also acknowledged in these figures. This form of compensation is known as general damages. They are not guaranteed amounts. The idea is to merely provide a guide figure commensurate with that specific injury. The compensation table below shows examples a very brief example:

Injury SeverityJCG Bracket amountnotes
Brain DamageModerate (c) (i)£150,110 to £219,070There is a moderate to severe deficit intellectually. The senses are affected and there is a significant risk of epilepsy.
Brain DamageLess Severe (d)£15,320 to £43,060Good recovery with some residual problems such as concentration or memory issues.
Neck Severe (a) (i)In the region of £148,330Little or no movement in the neck despite 24 hour collar wear for a number of years.
NeckMinor (c) (ii)£2,450 to £4,350A full recovery within three months to a year.
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevere (a)£59,860 to £100,670Permanent effects preventing a person from functioning at a pre-trauma level.
BackSevere (a) (ii)£74,160 to £88,430Nerve root damage associated with a loss of sensation and impaired mobility.
Pelvis and HipsModerate (b) (i)£26,590 to £39,170Injury to the pelvis or hips that is significant but permanent disability is not major and future risks aren't great.
Knee Moderate (b) (i) £13,920 to £24,580Wasting, weakness, dislocation or torn cartilage, for example.
ShoulderModerate (c)£7,890 to £12,770Shoulder is frozen causing limited movement and persistent symptoms of discomfort for around two years.
ArmLess Severe (c)£19,200 to £39,170Disabilities are significant but a substantial amount of recovery has occurred.

Special Damages For Personal Injury Claims

As well as wondering about the limitation period for personal injury claims, you may also want to know more about other kinds of compensation you could be entitled to receive. 

In successful personal injury claims, special damages may also be awarded. These provide reimbursement of the financial losses you have suffered as a result of your injury.

For example, if you have experienced a loss of earnings because you had to take time off work to recover from your injury or you could not return to employment for the foreseeable future, you could be entitled to claim the lost income back under special damages. 

Documentation, such as your payslips, can be useful to have as evidence in order to prove loss of earnings for an injury claim

Additionally, if you have paid for public transportation to travel to your hospital appointments, for example, you could be compensated for these monetary losses. Travel tickets could be used as evidence for such. 

Please contact our team for more information on special damages. They can also provide further guidance on the time limits for personal injury claims, please continue to read this guide. 

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Time Limit

As a member of the armed forces or military personnel who has suffered an injury in the course of military service, there is generally a 7-year limitation date. This is from the date that you sustained the injury.

However, if you suffered a mental health injury (such as PTSD), you’d need to claim within 7 years of seeking professional help for the condition.

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) covers injuries that were caused by service on or after 6th April 2005.

However, there is a certain amount of injury that can be expected during combat, meaning that some claims may not be valid. To find out if yours is valid, get in touch with an advisor for free legal advice.

Is There A Time Limit For Medical Negligence Claims?

There is generally 3-year time limit when starting a claim for medical negligence. This timeframe starts from the date when either the negligence occurred or when you first became aware that your injuries were caused or worsened by medical negligence.

There isn’t a time limit on finishing your claim once you have started the process. This is true of all cases, not just medical negligence.

Claims On Behalf Of Deceased Loved Ones

Perhaps a loved one has passed away because of medical negligence? The 3-year time limit might apply here as well. However, if you’re unsure, our advisors can let you know at no charge.

Obviously, no amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one. But the money you may be owed can attend to the unforeseen and unwanted costs associated with their death. In order to do this, you need to consider limitation periods promptly and start as soon as you are ready.

Is There A Time Limit On Child Accident Claims?

Anyone under the age of 18 who has suffered an injury due to another party’s negligence could have a claim for personal injury made on their behalf. A litigation friend would do this.

Alternatively, if nobody makes a claim on their behalf, they would have 3 years from the date of their 18th birthday to claim. Prior to this they are classed as a ‘minor’ and are unable to pursue a claim independently.

If an adult lacks the mental capacity to claim, a litigation friend could also claim on their behalf. However, if the person who lacks mental capacity recovers it, the start date of the 3-year time limit would be the date of recovery.

A litigation friend’s main duties include:

  • Doing everything you can to tell the child about the case and finding out how they feel and what their wishes are
  • Acting in the child’s best interests
  • Talking to their solicitor, getting their advice and giving instructions that are in the child’s best interests

If the claim is successful and parties agree on a compensation amount to pay the child, the Court needs to approve the settlement.

Death Caused By A Fatal Accident

There are a number of types of deaths that should be reported to a coroner. Coroners are independent and investigate all deaths where:

  • there is an unknown cause.
  • there is reason to believe the death mightn’t be due to natural causes.
  • an inquiry is needed for another reason.

They would typically perform an autopsy and may take statements from concerned or involved parties. Sometimes, the results of the Coroner’s findings are sent for an inquest.

There is usually a time limit of 3 years for making a fatal accident claim. This can start from the date of death or the date when the fatal accident occurred. Why not get in touch to check how long you might have left to claim?

Accidents Abroad

There is particular legislation with regards to limitation periods if your accident or injury happened whilst on a package holiday. If your package holiday was booked before 1st July 2018, the definition of the package holiday can be found in The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. Under The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, you can find the definition of holiday packages booked after 1st July 2018.

Tour operators should ensure they provide safe holidays and facilities. This means if you can prove they failed to do this and you suffered an injury as a result, you could make a claim.

You can do this through the Courts of England and Wales even if you were injured abroad. Because of this, the standard 3-year limitation period applies.

If you weren’t on a package holiday or the injury happened somewhere that wasn’t arranged for by the tour operator, such as in a hotel you booked separately, you may need to claim under the law of that country. Time limits for making such a claim differ between countries.

As with all claims of personal injury, it’s essential to have solid evidence of how your tour operator breached their duty of care in a way that exposed you to an actual injury.

Injury Or Illness On An Aircraft

The Montreal Convention 1999 outlines a 2-year limitation period for personal injuries that occur during a flight or when embarking or disembarking. Some countries are not party to this convention, so it’s important to watch out for differing time limitations when flying with some airlines.

The Convention was implemented into UK law via The Carriage by Air Acts (Implementation of the Montreal Convention 1999) Order 2002.

If you suffered an accident abroad, on a cruise or during a flight, speak to our team now to prevent unnecessary delays with your claim.

The Limitation Period For Injury Claims Via The CICA

You could claim compensation if injured as the victim of a violent crime. This can be done through a government agency called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). You must be willing to report the crime and work with the police to apprehend the perpetrator, but it can offer some form of compensation in circumstances where you’re unable to claim against the perpetrator.

The limitation period for injury claims through the CICA is generally two years after the incident. But there are exceptions:

  • Children – if no claim was made on the child’s behalf but the crime was reported when they were a minor, they could make a claim for themselves within 2 years from the date of their 28th birthday. A parent or guardian could make a claim on their behalf before this.
  • Historical child abuse – time limits can be 2 years from the date that the abuse was reported to the police as an adult.
  • Exceptional circumstances – the CICA may allow claims to be heard if there was a good reason why it wasn’t reported at the time.
  • Medically reopening CICA claims – medically reopened claim time limits are generally 2 years from the date of the original decision by the CICA. Claims such as this can be reopened if the injury you have has significantly changed or worsened since the original compensation decision.

Being the victim of a serious crime is obviously traumatic and you need to give yourself the time and space to make a claim when you feel ready. However, it’s important to seriously consider the limitation period for injury claims and act as soon as you can. You do not want to miss your opportunity to access the justice you deserve.

Claiming For Accidents And Injuries On A No Win No Fee Basis

The limitation period for injury claims may seem complex and you may already feel that you are outside of the time frames described. This does not necessarily mean your claim is void. When you speak to a lawyer, they may have the insight and expertise to interpret your case differently. They may be aware of various exceptions to the time limitations that could help you. Our advisors give free legal advice, so why not call?

A No Win No Fee lawyer is able to act on your behalf. They can do so with no upfront fee whatsoever. Agreements such as this mean you only pay your lawyer their fee if your case is successful. Any compensation that is awarded to you because of their efforts means that you, in turn, pay them a small, lawfully capped percentage at the end as their ‘success fee’.

It’s not essential to use legal representation to make a claim. However, in the complex structure of the limitation period for injury claims, it can be sensible to engage the services of a professional. With nothing to pay if your case loses and no lawyer fees due as the case progresses, it can be a beneficial option.

Other Information About A Limitation Period For Injury Claims

In conclusion, thank you for reading this guide on the limitation period for injury claims. We hope it has simplified your understanding of how to start a valid personal injury claim within the right time scale. In addition to advice such as this, at UK Law we are able to offer help on:


Finally, we look at some frequently asked questions around the topic of a limitation period for injury claims.

What do I need to do to prove my claim?

It’s important to have correct proof of your injuries. Therefore you need medical evidence to demonstrate injury and documentation to prove financial losses that relate to the injury. For example, you may use bills, receipts or invoices.

Do I need to go to a doctor?

Medical proof is the cornerstone of your claim. With this in mind, a medical assessment that assesses your injuries is essential. A lawyer can help arrange this.

Can I get help with my recovery?

As you get well, you may need to pay for treatments. These costs could be reclaimed as part of your compensation. Therefore, it’s essential to retain proof of all expenses caused by your injuries.

Do you need ATE insurance?

‘After the Event’ insurance is something you can take out to protect yourself if your case loses. It covers you for costs such as expert reports and court fees that might be charged to you if the case loses.

The limitation period for injury claims: how long will my case take?

Importantly, there are no hard and fast rules about how long a case could take. It depends on different factors such as the strength of your evidence and how long it takes the other party to reach an agreement.

Writer FE

Checked by HT