Personal Injury Compensation Claim Time Limit Explained

Laura Broad[1]

Laura Broad

Money Savings Advice Personal injury claim time limit

If you’ve suffered an injury that wasn’t your fault, the last thing you want to be worried about is being left out of pocket. But if the accident was due to someone else’s negligence or inaction, it’s also likely you’ll have the grounds to make a claim for compensation.

What Is the Injury Compensation Claim Time Limit?

You have three years to make a claim for a personal injury from the date that an accident occurred. If the injury involves a criminal claim, this must be made within two years.

The world of personal injury claims and accidents at work can be a complicated one, but this guide is here to help demystify the process and explain when you can file a personal injury claim, what a typical claims process looks like and the time limits in place for making a claim.

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When Can You File a Personal Injury Claim?

Not every accident has a claim in it. For an accident at work, for example, the injury has to meet certain criteria such as being as a result of you doing your job or using equipment or necessary to carry out your job.

Generally, you can make a personal injury claim if the following two conditions are met:

You Sustained an Injury Due to No Fault of Your Own

This means the accident was unexpected and unavoidable from your side of things. For example, an accident that was down to your own negligence or misconduct would not be eligible for a claim, even if it did happen while you were at work.

The Accident Was Due to Someone Else’s Negligence

This is basically where someone else’s actions (or inaction) led to you getting hurt. A negligence claim is most common in the case where the person at fault had a duty of care to you.

If you can prove that they breached their duty of care - they did something they weren’t meant to do or didn’t do something they were meant to do - then there may be a claim in it. One example here is an employer not providing a safe environment to work in.

How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

Technically, the general rule is you have three years from the date of an accident (or from the date of knowing about an illness) to start a personal injury claim. In reality, it rarely works like this - there are various exceptions and considerations to take into account.

This table outlines a couple of them as a guide, but be aware this doesn’t apply in all circumstances.

Type of injury claim Time limit
General personal injury claims - accident at work, slips and trips, road traffic accidents 3 years from the date of accident (or date of knowing about an illness)
Fatal illness or injury claims 3 years from the date of death (or from the date the cause of death is known)
Claims for people receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983 3 years from the date of patient discharge
Claims for accidents and illness that happen while abroad Varies depending on the country, check local laws for guidance
Criminal injury (CICA) claims 2 years following the date of assault or other criminal incidents
Injury claims on behalf of children Until their 18th birthday

This time limit is the time within with documents can be filed to court if necessary. This means that it’s also worth bearing in mind that, due to the level of evidence that must be gathered for a claim to have a chance of being successful, many personal injury solicitors will not take on a case if it only has a few months left before the time limit expires.

To be on the safe side, seek legal advice as soon as possible after the accident took place. Don’t leave it until the last minute - it could make finding a solicitor a much more stressful ordeal, and the claim may have to be rushed.

What Level of Personal Injury Compensation Can I Expect?

Before we look at the individual levels of personal injury compensation for particular injuries/medical conditions, it is worth noting the two different types of compensation. They are referred to as general damages and special damages.

General damages relate to:-

  • Pain and suffering

Special damages cover elements such as:-

  • Reimbursement of injury-related costs to date
  • Cost of future medical treatment
  • Loss of earnings, bonuses, pension, etc

General damages relate specifically to your pain and suffering as a consequence of the incident with a specific range of damages for particular injuries. Special damages are best seen as a recompense for costs incurred, future costs and loss of earnings, and there is no limit.

As a consequence, the cumulative impact of these can lead to significant personal injury compensation.

The Personal Injury Claim Process

On the face of it, a personal injury claim might look fairly straightforward - lodge a claim, agree on a settlement, and take it to court if needed. In reality, the personal injury claim settlement process can be a lengthy one, so prepare to buckle in for the long haul.

Here’s a rough overview of the process you can expect:

  • You appoint a legal representative, often a personal injury solicitor.
  • They notify the third party of the intent to claim via a ‘letter of claim’ - the defendant then has 21 days to respond and acknowledge that the claim is going ahead.
  • They gather detailed evidence of the accident to support your claim, including any witness statements, photographic or video evidence and proof of loss of earnings.
  • They collect medical evidence such as hospital or medical records, physiotherapy reports and notes on how the injury is affecting your daily life.
  • They negotiate a potential settlement with the third party - if they accept liability (blame) for the accident, then a settlement figure can be reached more quickly.
  • They take the claim to court if the third party does not admit liability or settlement offers can’t be accepted.

What Is the Process for Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim?

While many personal injury claims seem relatively straightforward on the surface, there is a legal system to navigate and evidence required to prove negligence. The process itself is relatively straightforward.

Once you have collated as much evidence as possible, you should approach a claims management company about reviewing your case. If they believe you have a minimum 60% chance of success, they will likely offer you a “no win no fee” arrangement.

This will indemnify you from the costs associated with pursuing your claim. In exchange, they would request a “success fee” which is a share of any compensation awarded as a consequence of taking on the costs of your claim.

Once an agreement has been reached, it is then simply a case of lodging your claim with the defendant who will have 21 days to reply. They will then have a further three months to gather their own evidence if the defendant does not acknowledge liability for your accident. At the end of this period, the defendant will either request an out-of-court settlement or refute negligence in which the case your claim will go before the courts.

Up until the final ruling from the judge, both parties can come to an out-of-court settlement. Assuming no agreement can be reached, the judge will make a ruling on the case and award the necessary compensation where appropriate. It is very rare that a personal injury claim makes it to the courts although on occasion you may be asked to give evidence. However, always remember, you are not the one on trial!

Money Savings Advice Tip

800,000 people in the UK get injured every year that wasn’t their fault. Depending on the injury compensation pay-outs can range from £1,000 to £200,000, speak to a professional to get some advice. There is only a finite amount of time to make a compensation claim, so act quickly to get the ball rolling.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?

There’s no straightforward answer to this as no two cases are the same. The honest (but unhelpful) answer is that it depends on the individual details of your case.

As you can imagine, the more complex the situation, the severe the injury, or the higher value the settlement figure being disputed, the longer this process can take. The claims process will also take significantly longer if there is a lot of evidence to collect or, the third party does not admit the accident was their fault.

It’s realistic to expect a personal injury claim will take months or years, not weeks. Even if you’re trying to push for a fast settlement, keep in mind that once it’s done, it’s done. It’s very unlikely you’d be able to go back and claim more in the future if your circumstances changed, or your injury did not improve, for example.

For this reason, many solicitors recommend that you don’t accept a settlement until you’ve made a full recovery from your injuries or you receive medical confirmation that symptoms are likely to be permanent.


While the traditional time limit on a compensation claim is three years from the date you were diagnosed, there are some exceptions. Those under the age of 18 can be represented by parents, family or a legal representative or wait until they are 18 to pursue their own claim.

In this case, the three-year window of opportunity would begin on their 18th birthday. If the victim is mentally incapacitated and unable to pursue their own claim then their parents, family or legal representative can do so on their behalf.

We have seen numerous cases where medical conditions have been diagnosed literally decades down the line and victims have still been able to claim compensation.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With Making a Personal Injury Compensation Claim?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Personal Injury Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for injuries they have incurred, and they can do the same for you.

Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.

If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.

Money Savings Advice Author Laura Broad

Laura Broad

Laura is a professional content writer and learning designer, passionate about empowering people through straightforward, jargon-free content. When she's not reading or writing about all things personal finance, you can find her in the gym, barbell in hand.

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