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A Guide to Time Limits

Expert advice from a leading law firm.


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Wherever possible, we aim to deal with claims on a "no-win, no-fee basis" which means that you are only liable for legal fees where we are successful in making your claim.

A Guide to Time Limits in Personal Injury Claims 

All countries impose time limits for claiming compensation. You must balance the right of the claimant to claim with fairness to whoever is claimed against. Put simply, if you tried to claim for an accident that happened 20 years ago it would be all but impossible to properly investigate such an accident and so time limits are imposed. If you are unable to settle your claim within the time limit, you must raise a court action before the time limit runs out. Otherwise, you may lose the right to claim.

In this guide, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding time limits in personal injury claims.

Please be aware that every case is different. If you are unsure whether you have a claim it is important to discuss this with a specialist personal injury solicitor. At Calio Claims, we are here to provide you with advice and support concerning any potential claim.

Do not hesitate to contact us for advice and support with your case. Call us on 0800 988 8082 today

In Scotland, if you are claiming for a personal injury, the usual time limit is three years from the date of the accident. Whereas, if you are only claiming for money with no personal injury, then the usual limit is five years.

This is why it is crucial to act quickly if you think you may have a claim. At Calio Claims we can help you to work out when the three-year period started.

There are some exceptions to the three-year time, for example, in the following circumstances:

  • If you are claiming compensation on behalf of a child, then there is no time limit until your child turns 16 (from the age of 16, the three-year rule applies).
  • If you are claiming on behalf of someone else who does not have the mental capacity to claim for themselves, then there is no time limit for making a claim.

In most cases, you will know the date of the accident or incident and you work out the time limit from that date. Still, in some cases, particularly medical negligence, you may not know you have a claim until long after the medical treatment you are complaining about. In these cases, you work from what is called the date of knowledge.

This means the date when you knew or ought reasonably to have known that you were the victim of negligent medical treatment and that your injuries were serious enough to merit a claim.

Our personal injury solicitors can discuss with you the circumstances in which the date of knowledge would apply.

Where there is a continuing breach, the time limit runs from when the breach stopped.

In personal injury claims, the courts have the discretion to allow a claim to go ahead even if court action is not raised within the three-year time limit. For example, if the claimant had been ill or has suffered bereavement/family problems these can all be considered. You should not though try to rely on the discretion. The only certain way to protect your right to claim is to raise court proceedings on time.

This is why it is imperative to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible if you think you may have a claim.

You can raise a claim if a company or a person owes you money. Time limits for these claims are five years. There are two ways that a court action can be raised for recovery of the money:

  • Simple procedure – if your case is worth less than £5,000
  • Ordinary case – if your case is worth more than £5,000

If you are claiming compensation for an accident on an international flight, you have two years from the date of disembarkation from the aeroplane on which the accident occurred. Similarly, if you have an accident on a cruise ship, the time limit is again two years from the date of disembarkation. There is no discretion to allow late claims in accidents involving ships or aircraft.

If you suffer an accident abroad because of defective hotel accommodation, for example, you can sue the tour operator and, in that case, the three-year time limit applies, but you may also have the option of suing the hotel owners direct. In that case, the national time limit in the country where you had your accident applies.

It is important to seek advice from a solicitor who has experience in dealing with accidents which occurred abroad as soon as possible. We have specialists in this area and you can contact them here.

If you have an accident abroad, it is important to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible as time limits do vary from country to country. We can advise you on this.

In addition to the three-year rule, there is an added time limit in defective product claims. Any case must be raised within 10 years of the date of the product in question having been taken off the market. If the accident is beyond the 10-year period, the court has no discretion to extend it.

Where the assault occurs when you are an adult (over 18) it is two years from the date of the assault. Any period when you are a child (under 18) does not count. The CICA has a discretion to accept a late claim if:

  • There are circumstances justifying this; and
  • It is still possible for the police to properly investigate the claim.

Provided the historic abuse in question occurred after 26 September 1964 then there is no time for claiming. Claimants abused before that date can apply under a separate government scheme.

At present, where the accident or incident occurs outside the UK there is a time limit of three years, but this can be extended if the court exercises its discretion. The Ministry of Defence is planning to change the time limit by removing the discretion but in turn allowing ten years to claim.

A one-year limit applies here running from the date your human rights were breached.

Contact our personal injury solicitors in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee today

If you have sustained an injury and think you may have a claim, contact us to find out if you may be entitled to compensation.

We can offer to work on a no-win, no-fee basis and will discuss your fee options with you at your free initial consultation.

You can contact us on 0800 988 8082 complete our online enquiry form. We are here to help.


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