Why Does Date Of Knowledge Matter In A Personal Injury Claim And How Does It Affect My Time Limit To Make A Claim?
Posted on 27th May 2020
The Date of Knowledge of a Personal Injury is, in fact, the start of the proverbial “ticking clock” for your Limitation Period in which to make your Personal Injury Claim. Because of this, we strongly recommend that immediately you are aware of any potential claim, you contact MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, to discuss how we can help you.
What is Limitation in Personal Injury?
Firstly, Limitation applies to all Civil Claims brought in England and Wales and each is governed by the Limitation Act 1980 and in the case of the vast majority of Personal Injury Claims the Limitation Period is three years. In certain circumstances, for example, Accidents at Sea the Limitation Period is shorter.
If your Personal Injury Claim reaches three years of age and you have not either settled the claim, or issued proceedings in the County Court, your claim will be said to be Statute Barred, under the Limitation Act 1980 and you cannot pursue it any further.
What does Limitation exist for?
The Limitation Act 1980 was brought into being to set a limit on the amount of time that people have to bring a claim. It is partly to discourage delays on the part of Claimants with valid claims and also to protect potential Defendants from being the subject of a claim from many years prior which they no longer hold the evidence to validly Defend.
Do all time limits for Personal Injury Claim start from the date of the incident or act of negligence?
Not necessarily, it all depends on what you are aware of at the time of the incident and when you are aware of the fact that you have an injury. So, if someone bumps the back of your car at traffic lights and you have a sore neck, it is generally accepted that everyone knows that they have a right to claim for Personal Injury and so, their Limitation Period starts on the same day of the incident.
When do time limits not start straight away?
This is most common in Medical Negligence cases and also Industrial Injury or Industrial Disease claims, where an act of negligence can occur, but you might not be aware of the negligence or the fact that it has injured you until later. For example, if an operation was performed incorrectly, you might not be aware of this fact, or the injury it caused, until you are told of the problem by another doctor at a later date, perhaps when you seek further advice about something not healing correctly or ongoing pain.
The same principle is true for Industrial Injuries, where people can be exposed to anything from loud noise to harmful chemicals, but only find out about the damage months, years or even decades later.
Are there any exceptions, say, for unique Case-Law or unusual circumstances?
Not really, as Personal Injury is an established field of Law in England and Wales if you are aware of an injury, you are deemed to have “knowledge” on that date and so are expected to see a Solicitor, such as MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, to obtain advice. We are experts in this field and we can almost always tell you withing five or ten minutes on the telephone if you have a potential claim.
Even in the event that your case requires further research, as the Law provides three years in which you bring your claim, that is to settle it or issue proceeding in the Court system, this is deemed to be more than enough time for any specialist evidence and advice to be obtained prior to the end of the three year period.
The only fixed exception is in the case of children, who can have a claim brought on their behalf until their 18th birthday and can make their own claim until their 21st birthday. The same is true of patients who lack mental capacity, who can have a claim brought on their behalf and have until three years after their capacity is deemed to have recovered (say they were in a coma) to bring the claim themselves.
How do I prove my date of knowledge if the negligence was more than three years ago?
Usually, this is done using your medical records, although on occasion other records or witness evidence can support a date of knowledge. There will be no history or the problem, injury or condition presenting beforehand, or the cause of the injury may not have been established. Usually, the date of knowledge will be the date a Medical Practitioners informs you of the condition and the potential cause.
If in doubt, see a Solicitor
The Court do have some power to extend Limitation deadlines but the reasons for missing it must be very compelling. You must be absolutely capable of proving you did not know about the potential claim or you had a very good reason not to have brought the claim inside the three-year limit from your Date of Knowledge.
Come to see MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, straight away if you think you might have a Personal Injury Claim and we will ensure that you are well advised and your claim settled long before the three year Limitation date even appears on the horizon.
You can contact us by phone, email, web-contact form or at any of our offices in Garstang, Lancaster or Longridge. We aim to accept all Personal Injury Claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis to ensure you have access to the proper legal representation to ensure your claim not only succeeds but also that you receive the maximum possible compensation for your injuries. Contact MG Legal and we will get the ball rolling today.
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