The Personal Injury and Medical Negligence Limitation Period

29 January 2021

If you are considering making a claim, for either personal injury or medical negligence, it is important that you are aware of the time limit for making said claim.

Generally, you have 3 years, from the date of the alleged negligence, to make a claim. This time is known as the ‘limitation period’.


The year 2021 continues to be an extremely challenging one for many thousands of people, and for those who face redundancy those challenges are likely to be greater still.

As those affected go through the formal process, and it is sadly happening to a growing number of people, it is natural that they may reconsider or revisit their options and explore what action they can take or what they may be entitled to.For example, they may have suffered an accident in their workplace some years earlier and held back from taking formal action immediately.

Understandably they perhaps feared such action would jeopardise their employment or would make matters awkward at work. Unfortunately, though, if they are now trying to claim, they may be disappointed as their delay could have cost them dearly. In short, they may be out of time!


The Limitation Act 1980

  • The law that applies to this area can be found under section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980. It states that in most cases, most personal injury claims must be brought within three years from the date of injury or act of negligence, which resulted in injury. This is namely the date of the accident;
  • Alongside section 11, is also section 14 of the same Limitation Act 1980, which must be considered. This covers incidents where a person may have been injured or have a condition, illness or injury caused by the negligence of an another – but was not immediately aware of it. Should they then discover that fact for the first time, that ‘discovery date’ can be taken as the first date of action or first date of knowledge. Just as under section 11, they then have three years to pursue a claim.

Case Study: Limitation Act 1980

A recent example involved a loyal factory worker, who had worked for a company for a number of years and was aware of the company culture when an employee brought a claim against them. He had been involved in a number of accidents over the years, but as he was quite a stoic individual he had never brought a claim.

The reasons being he didn’t want to make a fuss or jeopardise his well-paid job which he liked. It was a job that was well paid for the area in which he lived. He had also experienced periods of unemployment in his life and had a family to provide for Like the rest of the country, the first lockdown due to Covid-19 hit hard and he was initially furloughed before then being made redundant shortly after.

The fear of redundancy was one of the main reasons why he hadn’t wanted to bring a claim previously. However, now that risk had been removed and he was now without a job, he wished to claim for an accident that had happened some years earlier and where he had lost the little finger and nearly lost the ring finger of his dominant left hand. Previously he had been concerned that whilst his previous employer had been good to him, paid his wages whilst he was off work recovering from surgery and found him ‘lighter duties’ in the factory, he would now struggle to find a similar well-paid job with another company due to his injuries.

He therefore thought about bringing a claim for the accident, only to be advised that he was out of time under the Limitation Act as his accident had occurred 4 years before hand. My best advice is not to delay, at least seek advice so you know your rights. Understandably, many people focus on being treated either for their injuries or their condition, and time soon passes so that when they turn their attention to bringing a claim. They are then advised they are statute barred, or out of time from bringing a claim.

“Whether it’s an accident at work, or you have been recently diagnosed with a condition caused by work conditions either years ago or recently, please, please don’t delay! Seek both legal and medical advice as soon as possible. Delay can sometimes not only compromise your recovery, but also impact upon legal investigations and the ability to bring a successful claim and recover compensation that you or maybe even your family deserve,” - Steve Hennegan warns.


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