Overturning Time Limits for Personal Injury Claims

11 September 2014

We all see adverts for personal injury claims, suggesting that ‘where’s there blame – there’s a claim’. However, bringing a personal injury claim can be a complex area of the law, particularly when coupled with the strict time limits for making a claim.

We all see adverts for personal injury claims, suggesting that ‘where’s there blame – there’s a claim’.  However, bringing a personal injury claim can be a complex area of the law, particularly when coupled with the strict time limits for making a claim.

At Wilkin Chapman, we have considerable expertise in both personal injury claims and military law.  This is demonstrated by a recent case where we successfully represented a former military serviceman in an application to the court to disapply the usual time limits for starting a personal injury claim.

The serviceman was injured in December 2007 whilst on exercise, despite the fact that he was medically downgraded.  The injuries he sustained were serious, resulting in the amputation of his left leg; these injuries have been life-changing, both for the serviceman and his family.

Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act 1980 provides that a claim for personal injury cannot be brought more than three years after the date of the accident or knowledge of the injury sustained.  The court does, however, have discretion to disapply this restriction, but only in very limited circumstances.

When the serviceman came to see us he was already out of time for bringing his claim, as he had not been advised, either by the Ministry of Defence or his previous solicitors, of the three-year deadline.  As a result, we consequently made an application to the court to disapply this normal time limit.

On Monday 4 August 2014 the court found in the serviceman's favour, despite the application being robustly opposed by the Ministry of Defence.  The court found that, in the circumstances, there was not significant prejudice to the Ministry of Defence in being able to investigate the claim and that they had, in fact, had opportunities to investigate it previously.  The court further found that the prejudice to the serviceman of losing his ability to bring his claim was significant.  The serviceman was therefore allowed the opportunity to bring his claim outside of the normal time limit which, as you can imagine, is a great relief to him and his family.

If you have any questions regarding an accident you have had, or the time limits for bringing a claim, then please do not hesitate to contact me, Tean Butcher or Louisa Donaghy.


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