How long after an accident can you make a claim?
This is a very common question people have when considering a personal injury claim.
Generally speaking (just to give you an idea) the simplest answer that will apply to most people is that you have three years from the date of your accident to make a personal injury claim.
As with most things in the legal world there can sometimes to be exceptions to this and even then things are rarely that straightforward.
So to help you understand matters more clearly, what follows are some key factors that may impact your case.
Time bar – what is it and why is it important?
For most compensation claims, the law gives people three years to make a claim from the date of their accident – this is called “time bar”. So, if you were injured on 2 March 2021 then you have until 2 March 2024 to make a claim.
If you don’t raise a case before the three-year limit is up then your case will be classed as “time barred” and you will not be able to pursue court proceedings and, more crucially, you will not have the chance to recover compensation you would otherwise have been entitled to.
There are certain situations where time bar limits change – like in asbestos claims, historic abuse cases, criminal injury, fatal accidents or injury or illnesses abroad – however a solicitor will be able to advise you accordingly depending on the circumstances of your case.
If I have three years, then why the rush?
The reality is the longer you leave it the harder it can be to build a clear picture of what happened. This does not just apply to your own personal recollections:
- Witness statements - people’s memory of what happened can change over time so the longer you leave it the more discrepancies there could be in gathering corroborative statements. (In our experience this is especially true of road traffic accident claims.)
- Evidence and paperwork – police reports, insurance documents, photographs, CCTV recordings, workplace risk assessments or even some of your own paperwork may be lost or be untraceable as time passes. The quicker we are able to act for you and start your claim then the quicker we can secure the vital pieces of evidence to give you the best chance to win your case.
- Medical care – in some cases, especially those affected by a serious injury, you may require specialist treatment to help your recovery. In many cases the very best treatment may not be available to you on the NHS but if you speak to us then we can actually help you access this help early on as part of your case. Such an early intervention then can massively improve your physical recovery and the cost of it is simply added to the value of your claim and paid by the other side.
- Financial support – if you are injured and cannot work then you may be worried about how you can cover the cost of domestic bills. If you come to us as soon as possible then our personal injury solicitors could help you secure early lump sums called interim payments to help with urgent costs like a mortgage. Such payments can offer many people peace of mind and a time which is already stressful enough.
Can I claim for an accident after 3 years?
There are certain situations where you can claim after three years. For example, the law in Scotland states that if you were a child when you were injured the three-year time limit will begin from your 16th birthday.
We do appreciate many factors can delay a person in seeking independent legal advice after an accident.
It may be your physical recovery. Maybe you’re still coming to terms with the accident and processing your emotions. Maybe you’re confused about what your options are because your insurance company is trying to lead you down a certain path.
Whatever the reason, we understand. We really do.
Because in many cases it’s not the accident itself that’s the problem, but what happens afterwards.
So as soon as you are ready to discuss your options and plan for the future contact us and we can get to work immediately and make sure you have the evidence, medical care, financial support and peace of mind to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
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