Do You Really Have Three Years To Make That Personal Injury Claim?
Posted on 29th April 2020
We’ve all seen it time after time “have you have an accident or sustained an injury in that last three years? You could be entitled to compensation!!”
Well, whilst those chaps on TV are mere ‘lawyers’, MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Lancaster, looks at this and in particular, a recent High Court decision on the “three year” period.
Where does “three years” come from?
This isn’t an arbitrary figure, the three-year limit on Personal Injury Claims was set in 1980, with the creation of the Limitation Act. Broadly speaking, you have a period of three years to bring a claim for Personal Injury and six years for most other types of claim.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes, a few, claims for employment disputes not for Personal Injury such as unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal or in-work grievances has a limit of just three months before you must commence Tribunal proceedings (do not, however, ask MG Legal’s personal injury solicitors too much on the subject, though, none of our solicitors in Lancaster, Longridge or Garstang specialise in employment law). Certain other types of claim, such as those occurring at sea or in the air potentially have different, shorter, Limitation periods.
When does the “three years” start?
The three year Limitation Period commences either on the date of the incident or the date of knowledge of the cause of the claim. So, if you have a Road Traffic Accident or an Accident at Work, it is generally accepted that your three year Limitation period starts that day.
Date of Knowledge applies more often in medical negligence cases or disease cases where it is often not known that something is wrong until a medical practitioner tells you something is wrong. This is most often seen in industrial disease cases, such as Mesothelioma or Deafness where exposure to dangerous substances or noisy environments years or even decades ago leads to a disease developing many years later.
What happens if my case goes on longer than three years?
Whilst MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitors Lancaster, settle most claims within a few months, a few necessarily take longer. If your claim reaches the three year point, the claim does not end, it is necessary to issue proceedings in the County Court, which then “protects” the claim from the Limitation deadline and it can then proceed to a conclusion, including a Trial if needs be.
So, in truth, the thee year Limitation period is not a deadline to settle your claim but one to either settle it or to commence County Court proceedings.
What happened at the High Court?
The High Court heard an appeal in the case of Gregory v HJ Haynes where the County Court had struck out a claim for passing the three year Limitation deadline.
Mr Gregory’s (no relation) Solicitors had not issued proceedings at the end of the three year Limitation period, so they did the only thing they could and asked the Court for an extension to the Limitation date. This is, aside from issuing proceedings the only viable option, but as this case shows it is a risky one.
The County Court denied the extension, but the High Court permitted it, only on the grounds that it was not the Claimant’s fault that Limitation had been missed. The High Court was, however, critical and only narrowly was the case allowed to survive. Mr Justice Mann, found that the Claimant could not have “realistically and sensibly” have done any more, however, each Judge is different and the Application and Appeals process is expensive in the extreme, it is better to never let a case get there in the first place.
The lesson? See a Personal Injury Solicitor as soon as you can
Whilst there were a few reasons the above case ended up where it did, one thing is clear. You can avoid this issue without fail if you go to see a Solicitor and work with them to progress your case.
By seeing a Solicitor straight away, you are guaranteed to have your case up and running quickly and whilst everything is fresh in your mind, as well as that of the other parties. This gives maximum time to present the claim and in many cases, have it settled swiftly too.
Even in those longer term cases, where sometimes medical evidence takes a while to finalise or disputes have occurred, it will likely reach a point where the evidence is finalised long before the three years is up.
In the very few occasions where your case is still ongoing at the three year mark, your Solicitor will be able to give you not only plenty of advance warning but also advice as to the prospects of the claim succeeding in the Court process.
Is all of this work carried out on a Conditional Fee Agreement?
Yes, MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Lancaster, honour our Conditional Fee Agreements (no win, no fee agreements) throughout our cases. The Conditional Fee Agreement is linked to the prospect of your case being successful and so, even if it enters the Court process, as long as we think the case will win, we will honour the Conditional Fee Agreement.
How do I instruct MG Legal?
Get in touch with us by phone, email, web-contact form or at one of our offices in Lancaster, Longridge or Garstang and we will put you straight in touch with a member of our Personal Injury team. Once we have discussed your case with you, we will look to have the ball rolling the same day to ensure that your claim is settled as soon as possible.
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