From the minute an accident happens the legal clock begins to start.
It is important to be made aware of the legal time limits in place especially if you are involved in an accident due to the negligence of a third party. As only within a specific time frame are you able to bring a claim forward.
These time frames are known as the Statute of Limitations, set out by the statute of limitations act in 1957.
Being a senior personal injury and medical negligence solicitor, I have worked with many different clients on a day to day basis over the years. In my time as a solicitor I have come across a number of different cases. However, (from time to time) I have had to decline people who ‘would be clients’ that have come forward to me with legitimate cases. This is solely because they have simply run out of sufficient time needed in order to bring a case forward. These cases have past the statute of limitations.
A Quick Note: First and Foremost
After being involved in an accident*, seek medical attention right away! Making sure that you are aware of your injuries no matter how major or minor you may deem them to be. Your road to recovery should always be made a priority.
Being made aware of your injuries will also aid you throughout the legal process. As having your injuries assessed and clear medical records are important in assisting you through your legal case.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is an act set in place to highlight the length of time a person has to bring a claim forward following an accident.
The statute is in place to work in favour of both parties involved in a claim.
The quick procedure supports strong evidence needed when making a claim.
It also ensures that a defendant doesn’t have to live with the prospect of a legal claim being brought forward against them at any time.
What exactly is the Time Frame within the Statute of Limitations?
A person has two years less a day from the date of knowledge to bring a claim forward.
Any claim that is made after the two-year period from the date of incident/date of knowledge is said to be statute-barred. This means that the claim is no longer actionable.
Date of Knowledge
The term ‘date of knowledge’ can leave someone confused as it is a bit vague with regards to what it actually is referring to. Some may ask, is it referring to the date an accident took place? Or, the date you were made aware of injuries that have been sustained? The answer is simply BOTH.
Other things that the ‘date if knowledge’ refers to is the date on which a person whom has been injured learns:
That they had been injured as a result of an accident
That the injury in question was significant
That the injury was caused by negligence, nuisance or breach of duty by the party at fault for the accident
The identity of the party at fault for the accident
In most cases I find that the date of knowledge established by a person is the day that the accident occurred and injury was sustained as a result.
This is not the case for all personal injury claims *. In some cases, an injury/illness may not manifest itself for some time after the incident occurred. In these cases, the date of knowledge is considered to be the date when they found out they were injured.
However the clearer this date of knowledge is the easier the legal process can become, and the issue of being over the statute is eliminated. Always remember that when bringing a case forward time is extremely valuable, so don’t waste it!
Children and Legal Time Limits
If a child under the age of 18 is injured in an accident * their circumstances are treated a little differently than an accident involving an adult *. A minor cannot bring a personal injury claim * forward themselves until they reach the age of 18.
A minor does, however, have an opportunity to bring an injury claim forward before their 18th birthday if a parent or guardian does so on their behalf. This is referred to as acting as the minor’s ‘next friend’. It is advisable to bring a claim forward as soon as possible in order to source reliable evidence to strengthen your child’s case*.
If no claim is made in the 2 years following the accident, the two-year time limit to make a claim starts from the date of the child’s 18th birthday where they can bring a claim forward themselves.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
I have come across cases where there are exceptions to the statute of limitations for certain clients. This only occurs when special circumstances are present with regards to the case at hand that may hinder a person’s ability to bring a case forward themselves.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations can be seen when:
A person has sustained injuries after an accident that has left them mentally impaired as a result.
A person sustained injury that prevents them from making a claim.
In this case, the person will have two years from the date where they are considered capable to do so.
Misdiagnosis of an illness/injury.
In this case, the 2-year time limit would start as soon as the person is diagnosed correctly
In Conclusion: have we cleared the Confusion?
Having clear knowledge on how the legal time limits work can prove to be the difference when it comes to bringing a legitimate case forward for legal proceedings!
Hopefully I have cleared up any confusion one may have with regards to Legal time limits when looking to bring a claim forward. Yes, the statute can be rather a complicated topic to understand. However, it enables us solicitors to help our clients efficiently and more important effectively.
Here at Tracey Solicitors we draw on years of experience in personal injury claims *. If you have any further questions on the statute of limitations don’t hesitate to contact us.
We give legal advice in Russian. If you need legal help, call us 01 649 9900 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
16/17 St. Andrew Street
T: 01 649 9900 – Reception
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
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