How long do I have to claim after an accident?

If you have had an accident which is someone else’s fault, it is important to be aware that there are time limits for claiming for compensation.

In most cases, the time limit for claiming is three years. The claim must either be settled or a court action raised before the end of the three year period.

The three year period can run from the date of:

  • The accident which resulted in injury;
  • Knowledge of a work-related illness (for example, someone suffering from industrial deafness may be exposed to excessive noise over a number of years, but the clock only starts ticking in relation to a personal injury claim from the date that they first reasonably became aware they were suffering from hearing loss - normally the date of diagnosis);
  • Knowledge that a mistake has been made by a doctor in the course of treatment;
  • Death of a family member.

There are, however, exceptions to the three year rule:

  • Where an accident involves a child under eighteen, the three year period does not start running until their eighteenth birthday, meaning they have until their twenty first birthday to bring a claim;
  • Where an individual lacks capacity, the three year period runs from the date they regain capacity. If they will never have capacity, the three year period may never start to run.
  • If an accident happens abroad, time limits in foreign countries may be shorter;
  • Accidents on board boats or planes have a shorter two year time limit;
  • Claims for criminal injury must be submitted to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority within two years.

However your accident occurred, you are always best advised to seek legal advice as soon as possible. This allows your solicitor time in which to carry out all necessary investigations and take steps to either settle your claim or raise a court action on your behalf timeously.

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