In this guide to car accident claim time limits, we’ll look at what time limits apply in different circumstances and provide some information on how the claims process works and what you could be compensated for.
If you’re unsure whether you’ve got enough time to start a car accident claim, we can help. Our team will review your claim for free and let you know your options. If there is still time to begin a claim and your case is strong enough, we’ll ask one of our solicitors to talk to you. If they agree to represent you, your claim will be managed on a No Win No Fee basis meaning you won’t have to pay them unless you are awarded compensation.
If you’d like to learn more about car accident claim time limits, please read on. Alternatively, please feel free to get in touch on 0800 6524 881 if you have any questions.
Table of contents
- What Time Limits Apply To Car Accident Personal Injury Claims?
- Exceptions To The 3-Year Car Accident Claim Time Limit
- Starting A Car Accident Personal Injury Claim Close To The Time Limit
- Extending The Time Limit For Car Accident Claims In Exceptional Circumstances
- What Compensation Could Be Paid Following A Car Crash?
- Evidence To Support A Car Accident Personal Injury Claim
- Further Advice On Car Accident Claim Time Limits
In the UK, time limits for personal injury claims are defined by the Limitation Act 1980. For most personal injuries from car accidents, a 3-year time limit will apply. This will begin from:
- The date of your car accident; or
- When your injuries were diagnosed by a doctor if they were not immediately obvious.
Other than some exceptions described below, it’s extremely important to file a claim within the 3-year timeframe. If a car accident claim is filed too late, it could become statute-barred. This means that an insurer representing the other party involved in your accident could turn down any compensation request you file with them and you wouldn’t be paid for your suffering.
Our suggestion is that you contact us as soon as possible to see if you can still claim compensation. As well as checking your claim falls within the 3-year limitation period, your solicitor will check that:
- The other driver was negligent; and
- That negligence led to the car accident; and
- You sustained injuries in that accident.
If you believe you should be compensated for injuries sustained in an accident, please contact our team to double-check your options.
Although the law is quite clear that you must claim for personal injuries from a car accident within 3-years, there are some scenarios that mean the limitation period could be extended. We’ll explain these over the next few sections of our guide.
Legally, a child cannot represent themselves in legal proceedings. This would seem to put them at an unfair advantage if the 3-year rule were to be applied. Importantly, if a child is injured in a car accident, their limitation period will not begin until they turn 18 years old (so they must claim before they are 21 years old).
However, it is possible for a parent, guardian or responsible adult to become the child’s litigation friend and begin the claims process at any point before the child’s 18th birthday. By doing so, the child could be compensated for their injuries before they become an adult.
The litigation friend process could also be used to help claimants who don’t have the mental capacity to take action receive compensation for a car crash. If a claimant meets the criteria set out by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, somebody else could deal with solicitors on their behalf.
In this scenario, you could act as the claimant’s litigation friend until they are discharged i.e. they’ve regained their mental capacity to deal with their legal matters. In some cases, that means the 3-year car accident claims time limit will never apply and you could claim compensation on their behalf at any point.
As we’ve explained, if somebody is injured in a car accident, they will have 3-years to claim compensation for their injuries. However, if they were to pass away within that 3-years, it might be possible for the executor of their will to begin a claim for a fatal accident on behalf of the deceased and any dependents. The 3-year limit would begin from the date the deceased passed away or from when the executor of the will found out about their death.
We’re here to help if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and would like to begin a claim. Please feel free to call 0800 6524 881 with any questions you might have.
As explained earlier, if you start a car accident personal injury claim after the appropriate time limit, it is more than likely going to be rejected. That means you wouldn’t receive a penny in compensation for your injuries.
While we’d always advise you to call and discuss your claim as early as possible, it may be worth getting in touch if you are approaching the 3-year limitation period. While your solicitor will need to carry out a number of tasks before they can file your claim, each claim is different so they might still be able to help. The more time you give them, the easier it will be for them to collect evidence and arrange for medical reports to support your case.
Some leeway is given to courts to extend the limitation period in personal injury claims if the claimant can prove that exceptional circumstances prevented them from claiming sooner.
Proving that this is the case can be very tricky and the defendant could contest the extension in the Court of Appeal even if you win the initial contest. Therefore, to try and avoid long and complex court interventions, we’d suggest that you call our team as soon as possible to try and begin your claim within the relevant timeframe.
Now let’s take a look at what you could be compensated for if your claim is made on time and is won. Your settlement could include compensation to cover:
- Any physical or mental suffering caused by your injuries.
- Loss of amenity (a negative impact on hobbies, family life and social activities).
- Loss of earnings.
- Care costs.
- Medical expenses.
- Travel costs.
- Future loss of income.
- Replacing personal items damaged in the car accident.
- Mobility aids or home adaptations to help you deal with any ongoing disabilities.
We can’t say how much compensation you’ll be paid in this guide but your solicitor will give you some idea once your case has been reviewed in more detail. However, our compensation calculator will give you some idea about how much might be awarded for a range of different injuries.
Please note that a medical assessment is typically required for a car accident personal injury claim to help to determine the severity of your injuries. This will be conducted by an independent specialist who’ll examine you and spend time discussing how your injuries have affected you.
If your car accident claim is made on time, your next step will be to prove how you were injured and who was at fault. The types of evidence that could improve your chances of being compensated include:
- Photographs of the accident scene to try and prove how the car accident happened.
- Medical records from the hospital or doctors’ surgery that treated you.
- Independent witness statements to confirm how the accident occurred.
- CCTV or dashcam footage if the accident was recorded on camera.
- Details about the other driver, their vehicle and their insurance policy.
Although gathering evidence can be time-consuming, it can make all the difference between winning and losing your claim. If you’d like us to review any evidence you’ve managed to collect so far, please call one of our specialist advisors.
As we’ve discussed throughout this guide, it is best to begin a car accident claim as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become statute-barred. The simplest way forward is to call our advice centre on 0800 6524 881 today.
During your free consultation, we’ll check that there is enough time left for you to start your claim and that there is a reasonable chance for success. If there is, we’ll pass your claim to one of our specialist personal injury solicitors who’ll process your claim on a No Win No Fee basis if you both agree to work together.
For more advice on car accident claim time limits or to discuss starting a claim, please use live chat to get in touch.