How long do you have to make a personal injury claim?

It may seem confusing when to make a claim for personal injury and when it will be too late to get the compensation you are entitled to. UK legislation stipulates that there is a limitation period of 3 years. Those 3 years start from:

  • The date of the accident; or
  • The date of knowledge of the accident of the injured party.

Date of knowledge of the accident in personal injury claim

Injured parties are aware of the accident itself when they are injured. If the injured party has no knowledge of the right to claim, the limitation period does not begin at the time of the accident. The injured party must prove that they had no actual ‘knowledge’ of the accident at the time. It is crucial to establish the right date of knowledge if you wish to bring a personal injury claim later than the limitation period.

There may be circumstances where injuries from an accident have slowly developed over time and the injured party did not realise that the pain from injury was associated to the accident.  In some cases, the injury and the accident is associated far later than the expiry of the 3 years limitation period. In this circumstance, there is an exception where the limitation period starts 3 times from the date on which the injured party can establish that these injuries are linked to the accident.

Are there any exceptions to the 3 year personal injury time limit?

Yes, here is a list of exceptions:

  • Claims on behalf of minors – claims can be made at any time before a child reaches the age of 18 years old. When a child becomes 18, they can make a claim in their own right.
  • Criminal injury claims – if you were the victim of a violent crime, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) will handle your case. A time limit of two years will apply to a claim made after an incident.
  • Mental capacity – if a person does not have the ability to handle their own case, there are no time limits to make a claim.
  • Fatal claims – you have three years to make a claim on behalf of a deceased family member. If a post-mortem report shows that an accident or illness was the cause of death, you have three years from the date you received that report.
  • Accidents on board ships – if an accident occurred on a cruise liner or ferry, you have two years to make a claim from the date you left the ship. The same rule applies to injuries sustained on cargo ships but will count from the date of your injury, not the date you left the ship.
  • International flights – following an accident on an international flight, you have two years to make a claim from your arrival at your final destination. This includes any accident that occurred after you went through passport control.
  • Domestic flights – if the injury took place on a domestic flight, the two year time limit starts when the plane landed.
  • Accidents/illnesses abroad – If an injury occurs overseas, then different time limits apply according to the law of the land. Our experts will be able to advise in more detail.

What if death occurs

The 3 years limitation period starts from the date of death of the injured party. If the injured party dies before the limitation period has expired, the relatives of the deceased can put forward a claim.


It’s vital to keep track of the limitation period and to establish how far down the line you are with respect to your claim. Keep your evidence together and let our experts assist you with your claim to achieve the maximum compensation you deserve.

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