Car Accident Claims Time Limits Guide

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How Long Do I Have To Report A Car Accident In The UK?

By Megan Black. Last Updated 3rd March 2024. In this guide, we will talk about the car accident claim time limit. We’ll explain the importance of reporting a car accident within the time limit in the UK and who you should report an accident to.

We have tried to cover every time limit and provide enough information to answer any questions you have about them. However, there may have been something unique about your accident that this guide doesn’t cover. If this is so, please speak to a member of our claims team on 0800 073 8804 to have your questions answered. One of our claim advisors can also explain to you how we can arrange for a personal injury lawyer to process your personal injury claim for you.

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car accident claim time limit

A Guide About The Car Accident Claim Time Limit

If you’d like to learn about the key points from this guide, why not check out our video below:

Select A Section:

  1. Can I Make A Car Accident Compensation Claim?
  2. Do You Have To Report A Minor Car Accident To The Police In The UK?
  3. How Long Do I Have To Report A Car Accident?
  4. How Long Do I Have To Start A Car Accident Claim?
  5. How Much Is A Car Accident Claim Worth?
  6. No Win No Fee Car Accident Claims
  7. Supporting Resources

Can I Make A Car Accident Compensation Claim?

Road users have a duty of care to reduce the risk of causing harm to themselves and others while navigating the roads. As part of their duty, road users should also adhere to the rules and regulations found in the Highway Code and the Road Traffic Act 1988.

You may be eligible to make a personal injury claim for car accident compensation if you can prove:

  • You were owed a duty of care by another road user.
  • This duty of care was breached.
  • You suffered an injury due to this breach.

To learn more about the requirements to claim, please read further, or contact our advisors for free.

Do You Have To Report A Minor Car Accident To The Police In The UK?

Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 says that the driver of a vehicle must always stop at the scene of an accident, no matter how minor they believe the incident to have been.

This law relates not only to accidents involving a vehicle on vehicle collision but also road accidents that harm a pedestrian or an animal as well.

When stopping, the driver should find a safe place to stop, pull over to the side of the road, turn the engine off and the hazard lights on. If the accident occurs on a motorway, the driver should pull over to the hard shoulder and ensure that any animals in the vehicle are locked inside unless in an absolute emergency they must be allowed out of the vehicle.

You may then exchange details with any other party involved in the accident. You must provide every party that asks you with your name and address, as well as the details of the owner of the vehicle (if this isn’t you). You do not legally have to give details of your vehicle insurance unless somebody has actually been harmed in the accident.

If you do not stop for any reason, or if you did not exchange information with any other party involved in the accident, then you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours of it taking place.

For more information on who a report should be made to, as well as further information on the car accident claim time limit, please read on. 

How Long Do I Have To Report A Car Accident?

You may be wondering, ‘How long do I have to report a car accident?’ The answer depends on the type of accident you’re reporting.

According to UK laws, you should report any accident that causes damage to property or personal injury to the police within 24 hours.

You should also report a car accident to your insurance company. It would be wise to report such an accident as soon as possible, even if you don‘t intend to make a claim. Your policy documentation may require you to report the incident within a set amount of time.

To learn more about reporting a car accident, and claiming compensation, you can contact an advisor.

How Long Do I Have To Start A Car Accident Claim?

As well as meeting the relevant eligibility criteria, you must also adhere to the car accident claim time limit. As with all personal injury claims, this is set out as 3 years from the accident date within the Limitation Act 1980.

Certain exceptions can be made to some claims, including for those who lack the mental capability to make their own. In this case, the time limit is paused and will only be reinstated if the person regains this mental capacity. While the time limit is paused, a car crash compensation claim could be made on their behalf by a litigation friend.

Additionally, the time limit is temporarily paused for minors until the date of their 18th birthday. From this date, they will then have three years to start legal proceedings. Again, while the time limit is paused, a litigation friend could act on their behalf.

To see whether you still have enough time to start your personal injury claim, you can contact a member of our advisory team.

How Much Is A Car Accident Claim Worth?

If your car accident claim is successful, you will be awarded general damages. This provides yo with compensation for your injuries and the suffering they have caused.

Various legal professionals will refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to help them value this head of loss in personal injury claims. This is because the JCG provides a list of compensation guidelines for different types of injuries. We have included some of the figures from the 16th edition of this document in the table below. Please only use it as a guide.


Injury Severity Compensation Notes
Multiple Injuries Plus Special Damages Severe Up to £1,000,000+ Multiple serious injuries, including psychological injuries, plus compensation for financial losses such as care costs.
Brain damage (a) Very severe £282,010 to £403,990 There will be little, if any, evidence of a response to their environment that is meaningful, double incontinence and will require nursing care full-time.
Brain damage (b) Moderately severe £219,070 to £282,010 There will be substantial dependence on others and a need for constant professional and other care.
Hand (a) Severe £140,660 to £201,490 Total or effective loss of both hands
Back (a)(i) Severe £91,090 to £160,980 Spinal cord or nerve root damage.
Back (b)(i) Moderate £27,760 to £38,780 The lumbar vertebrae has suffered a crush or compression fracture.
Neck (a)(i) Severe In the region of £148,330 A neck injury leading to incomplete paraplegia.
Elbow (a) Severe £39,170 to £54,830 A severely disabling injury.
Leg (iv) Severe £27,760 to £39,200 Compound or multiple fractures or severe crush injuries typically affecting one limb.
Whiplash Injury Whiplash injury only £4,215 Lasting more than 18 months but not more than 24 months.
Whiplash Injury Whiplash and psychological injury £4,345 Lasting more than 18 months but not more than 24 months.


Your compensation settlement may also include special damages. This compensates you for the financial losses and expenses you’ve experienced that have been directly caused by your injuries.

Some examples of the costs you could claim for under special damages include:

  • A loss of earnings.
  • The cost of prescriptions.
  • Essential travel expenses.
  • Care costs.

Providing proof of these losses and costs, such as bank statements and payslips, could help support your claim for special damages.

For a free valuation of your personal injury claim, you can contact our friendly advisory team. They could also help answer any questions you may have, such as ‘Do I need to report a car accident in order to make a claim?’

Will The Whiplash Reform Programme Affect My Claim?

In May 2021, the process of how some road traffic accident claims are made in England and Wales changed. You will now need to make your claim via a different avenue if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged 18 or over.
  • You were injured as a driver or passenger of a vehicle.
  • Your injuries are valued at £5,000 or less. This includes injuries such as whiplash and minor soft-tissue injuries.

Your whiplash injuries will now be valued in accordance with the tariff set out in the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. These are set amounts, and we have included some examples of these in the table above. Any further injuries you are claiming for that are not listed within this tariff will be valued in the traditional way.

You can contact our advisors today if you are unsure which avenue you should take when making your road traffic accident claim.

No Win No Fee Car Accident Claims

If you have valid grounds to claim for injuries caused by a car accident, then you could seek support from a solicitor. If you discuss your case with our advisors, they may connect you with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors.

Our No Win No Fee solicitors have experience handling car accident injury claims and could offer their services under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Under this agreement, you won’t have to pay any upfront or ongoing fees to them for their work. Your solicitor also won’t be required payment for their work if your claim goes ahead but ends unsuccessful.

If you succeed with your claim, then your solicitor can take a success fee. This is deducted as a legally capped percentage from the injury compensation awarded to you.

For more advice on making a claim with help from a solicitor, get in touch with an advisor. They can also provide more guidance on other questions you might have, such as when reporting a car accident is necessary. To get in touch, you can:

Supporting Resources

These external sites could contain more useful information:

We also have some other guides on car accident claims that you may find useful:

We hope that this guide about the car accident claim time limit has been helpful.

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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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