Are you eligible to make a personal injury claim? What you need to know

You could be entitled to make a compensation claim, if you have been injured in an accident in the last three years that was not your fault.

This article sets out everything you need to know about making a successful personal injury compensation claim.

The 3 key steps

To make a successful personal injury claim, your injury must have happened within the last three years (in most cases), and the injury must have been caused by another party that owed you a duty of care (e.g. another driver, or your employer).

A no win, no fee claim should be possible if it meets three key criteria;

  1. Limitation - did the injury occur in the last three years and (longer if children were involved) and
  2. Causation - was another party  (e.g. another driver, or your employer) to blame, even partly, and
  3. Liability - did that party owe you a duty of care.

However, even if you meet the above criteria, some personal injury solicitors might not take on your claim.

Read more: I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?

How long do I have to file a claim?

The short answer is, it depends.

Most people think that you are eligible to make a claim for up to 3 years after an accident. In fact, the length of time you have to make a claim can be more complicated.

The clock starts ticking on the date of discovery of the injury rather than the date of the accident.

While the two dates are usually one and the same, some injuries manifest themselves months or even years after the accident or exposure.

For most claims, such as for road accidents, work accidents or other personal injuries affecting an adult, the time limit is three years from the date of the accident.

How long do I have to file a claim?

Factors affecting time limits

Time limits are also affected by a range of other factors including:

  • the age of the claimant
  • the country in which the injury occurred
  • whether the injury occurred on a flight or package holiday
  • whether it is a criminal injury
  • whether the injury happened during active service

Claim time limits for health conditions, illness and industrial disease

Working out how long you have to claim for a road accident or accident at work is usually straightforward. This is because the date of the accident and the start of the injury symptoms usually coincide.

A claim could, however, relate to an illness or other health condition that developed over a period of time (such as carpal tunnel syndrome or noise induced hearing loss) or where the date of exposure to the cause is not known (such as for asbestos-related disease).

In these cases, the three-year time limit is calculated from the date that you knew, or reasonably should have known, about the health condition.

This is known as the ‘date of knowledge’ or ‘date of discovery’.

Time limits for child injury claims

A compensation claim can be made on behalf of a child by a litigation friend at any time up to their 18th birthday.

If you were injured as a child, you have until the date of your 21st birthday to make a claim, regardless of how old you were at the time of the accident.

Read more about child injury claims.

Can I really claim right up to the 3 year limit?

Technically, yes. However, in practice, probably not.

Many solicitors will not take on a case that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires.

Read more about solicitors and limitation dates

I have a case - could a solicitor still refuse to take it on?

In short, yes. Personal injury solicitors will carry out a risk assessment process (often referred to as ‘client vetting’ or ‘triage’) when considering whether to represent a claimant.

It is important to understand that solicitors are typically thinking about the chances of success and not simply whether there is technically a legal claim or not.

Different solicitors with different levels of experience may have a different opinion about how risky a case is, so it is critical that you do not give up if you are initially turned down by one firm.

Your claim will be made against the person, company or other party who caused the accident that resulted in your injury (known as ‘causation’), if they can be held liable (referred to as ‘liability’).

Causation - who is responsible?

In most cases, proving causation is straightforward.

For most injury claims, such as a fracture, laceration or head wound inflicted in a work accident, the circumstances of the accident directly explain the cause of the injury.

For cases of medical negligence (even where the negligence itself is proved), it can sometimes be harder to prove that the illness being claimed for was caused by the negligence, rather than being a health issue that would have arisen anyway.

Your personal injury solicitor will gather evidence to prove what circumstances led to your injury or illness.

Liability in a personal injury claim

In order to be legally liable for your injury, the party must owe you a legal duty of care.

In the case of road accidents, all road users owe a duty of care to each other. An employer owes a duty of care to all its staff. Even if another employee caused your injury, the employer is still legally responsible, under that principle of vicarious liability.

If you are not sure who is to blame for your accident (or if another party is legally liable) your solicitor will advise and investigate this for you.

How likely am I to win my claim?

Assuming that you meet the above criteria, there is a very good chance that your claim will be successful

If the defendant disputes liability, the chances of winning are reduced.  Other factors such as when there is blame on both sides (split liability ) can complicate matters further still

Read more about how likely you are to win an injury compensation claim?

Why people choose not to make a personal injury claim

A 2014 YouGov survey of injured people revealed that, of those respondents who were eligible to claim compensation, 75% did not do so.

The survey reported on the main reasons why people were reluctant to claim for compensation.  These were:

  • "I have run out of time"
  • "I don't believe in compensation"
  • "I did not think my injury was bad enough to make a claim"
  • "I am concerned about legal costs I may incur as a result of making a claim"
  • Other reasons e.g cultural, religious etc.

Read more about why eligible, injured people sometimes choose not to make a claim 

How can Quittance help?

Quittance is a panel of personal injury solicitors.  The panel takes on all types of ilness and accident claim, no matter how niche, and to offer specific expertise in these areas.

Our solicitors have an excellent track record of winning claims and will fight for the best possible compensation settlement.

To speak to us about your claim, without obligation, call 0800 612 7456.

Do I have a claim?