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Title: How long do I have to put in a claim?

Date: 04 July 2016

Question

Reading your story about the doctor’s accident, I thought you had 3 years from knowing the accident caused your injury to claim compensation, not 3 years from the accident date?

David Cullen, by email

Answer

In England and Wales, there is a standard time limit of 3 years in which a compensation claim for personal injury must be made. If legal proceedings are not started in court within three years, the case is then statute barred.

However, you are quite right that there are exceptions to this rule, one of which is “date of knowledge”. This is the date that the Court will say that you knew or ought to have known that you had developed injury as a result of the wrongdoing of others. This is often simple to determine if there is an obvious accident and injury on a specific date. Some conditions and diseases can be more difficult because the injury may not be readily visible, or may have a very slow or obscure rate and mode of development. For example mesothelioma through asbestos exposure can take 40 years or more to materialise.

Therefore, the date of knowledge can be the date that symptoms began. It can also be the date that you suspected that injury had developed or if not suspected, the date that a medical diagnosis or opinion is given to you. In bike accident cases date of knowledge arguments are rare because it is obvious that an injury has happened so the 3 year time limit begins on the date of the accident.

Other exceptions to the 3 year rule are cases involving children – the time limit does not begin until they are 18 years old so they have until their 21st birthday to issue their claim at court; and cases where someone has mental disability. Time only begins to run when the mental disability ends. In severe brain injury cases this may never be the case.

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