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How Long After An Accident Can You Claim Compensation?

By Olivia Newton. Last updated 13th April 2021. Welcome to our guide where we’ll address the question of “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”.

You might not be aware that if you suffer because somebody else was negligent, you could be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries. You could claim for a workplace accident, a road traffic accident or an accident on holiday, amongst other things. What you might not realise is that there is a limitation period for making a claim which can vary depending on what type of claim you’re making. Therefore, in this guide, we’re going to answer the question, “How long after an accident can you claim?” As well as looking at the personal injury claims time limit, we’ll provide advice on what you can claim for and how much compensation you could receive.

How long after an accident can you claim compensation guide

How long after an accident can you claim compensation guide

Legal Expert can help you make your claim. We begin by offering free legal advice and a no-obligation assessment of your claim. Then, if your claim is suitable, we could introduce you to one of our No Win No Fee personal injury solicitors.

To discuss your claim right away and see how we can improve your experience of making legal proceedings, you can contact us on 0800 073 8804 today.  If you’d rather find out more about the different accident or injury claim time limits before calling, please continue reading.

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A Guide On How Long After An Accident You Could Claim Compensation

Welcome to our guide where we’ll address the question of “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”.

When you’re injured or made to suffer because somebody who owed you a duty of care was negligent, you have the right to seek compensation from them. The idea of this compensation is to help you recover from your injuries and to try and ensure you’re not left out of pocket as a result. However, claims need to be made within the relevant time limit. If they’re not, the claim will become statute-barred and you won’t receive any compensation.

Different types of claims have different time limits, which can be confusing. Furthermore, some time limits can be waived or extended in certain circumstances. We’ll try to guide you through the different time limits within this guide. After you’ve finished reading, if you’re still unsure whether you’re eligible to claim, please call and explain your situation to an advisor. They’ll be able to check if you’ve still got time to begin your claim or not.

Most claim time limits are several years after the accident happened. While this can seem like a long time, we’d advise you seek legal advice as soon as you possibly can. That’s because, as part of the claims process, your solicitor will need to complete a number of tasks. They include gathering evidence, seeking medical advice and speaking to witnesses. Each task can take a while to complete so the sooner you begin the better.

As well as covering the time limit for different types of claims, we’re going to look at what compensation can be claimed and how much you might receive.

When you’ve finished reading, if you’d like to begin a claim, please call the number at the top of the screen. Our friendly advisors are specialists who will assess your claim for free and provide advice on your options.

What Are Accident Claim Time Limits?

If you’re wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?” this section will outline some relevant legislation.

Accidents claim time limits in the UK are determined by the Limitation Act 1980. This is a statute of limitations which makes it clear, in law, how long a claimant has to begin their claim. Different types of claims have different time limits which makes it important that this is the first thing you check when considering a claim.

The reason time limits exist is to provide the defendant with some security that they won’t be sued for something that happened decades ago. However, as you’ll see in the next section, some cases can be made well after the accident occurred, in certain circumstances.

What Date Does The Time Limit Start From?

You might think that the personal injury claim time limit will begin on the date the accident occurred. In most cases that can be true, but in others, it can begin much later. That’s because you may not be aware of any injury or illness immediately after an accident. In such circumstances, time limits usually begin from the date you became aware of your injuries or the ‘date of knowledge’.

As an example, if you’re involved in an accident where you broke your leg, it’s probable that you’d know about it straight away. Therefore, the time limit would begin from the date of the accident. However, if you develop cancer because of exposure to asbestos in the workplace, you might not know about it until a doctor diagnoses your condition many years later. Therefore, your time limit would begin from the date the doctor diagnosed the condition.

If you’re wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?” after a fatal accident, please see the next section.

How Long After A Fatal Accident Could You Claim Compensation?

If the victim of an accident passes away during the three-year time period in which they could’ve claimed, the executor of their will could claim on the estate’s behalf. The time limit would begin from the date of the accident or from the executor’s knowledge of the accident, whichever is later.

How Long After A Car Accident Could You Claim Compensation?

One of the most common questions we get from victims of road traffic accidents is “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”.

Road traffic accident claims could be possible when another road user’s negligence leads to an accident in which you are injured. Claims are possible for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists who’ve been injured.

The time limit for this type of claim is generally 3-years from the date of the accident. Claims can be made for a number of different injuries such as:

  • Cuts and bruises.
  • Head injuries including concussion.
  • Broken or fractured bones.
  • Soft tissue injuries including whiplash.
  • Back injuries.

If you’re considering a claim following an RTA, please speak with a member of our team for further advice. 

How Long After A Criminal Injury Could You Claim Compensation?

If you’re the victim of a violent crime, it is sometimes possible to make a criminal injuries claim. In most cases, you won’t claim against the criminal, but there is a government scheme called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) who could compensate you.

A CICA claim is not the same as a personal injury claim and a different set of criteria is applied. One of these is that there is a 2-year limit for claiming. However, for cases involving historical sexual abuse or where you mental or physical health prevented you from claiming, the time limit could be extended. Also, to claim for a criminal injury through CICA, the crime must’ve been reported to the police.

If you’re wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?” for an accident involving a child, please see the next section.

How Long After An Accident Could You Claim Compensation For A Child?

As children are not able to represent themselves legally, a parent, relative or responsible adult is able to make a child accident claim on their behalf. There is a process where the adult can become a litigation friend and represent the child during a claim.

A litigation friend is tasked with directing the proceedings of a claim on behalf of the child. This means making decisions in their best interests and liaising with solicitors on their behalf.

When compensation is awarded, a local court will ensure it is fair and then place it into a trust fund until the child’s 18th birthday. A litigation friend can apply to the court to take money from the trust fund so long as evidence can show how the child will benefit from the money.

You can claim for a child accident at any point before they turn 18, even if it’s more than 3 years from the date of the accident. If a claim isn’t made, when the child turns 18, they have a 3-year time limit within which to begin their own claim.

If you’re wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?” on behalf of an incapacitated loved one, please see the next section.

How Long After An Accident Could You Claim Compensation For Someone With Diminished Mental Capacity?

If the victim of an accident had diminished mental capacity at the time of the accident, then there is no time limit for making a claim. As with child accident claims, the litigation friend process could be used so that a friend or responsible adult could manage the claim on behalf of the victim.

If the claimant was receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983, then their time limit for beginning a claim would commence from the date they were discharged as a patient.

If you’d like to discuss claiming on behalf of somebody else or acting as a litigation friend, we can help. Therefore, if you’re wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

How Long Beyond The Three Year Limit Could I Claim?

In general, the rules on the 3-year time limit for claiming personal injury compensation are quite clear. If you fail to make a claim on time, then your claim will be statute-barred and you won’t be compensated.

However, as discussed previously, there are some exceptions. To clarify, these are:

  • A claim for a child accident can be made at any point before they turn 18. This requires an adult to represent them as their litigation friend.
  • Claims for those with diminished mental capacity at the time of the accident don’t have a time limit. Again, the litigation friend process can be used.
  • Criminal injury claims involving historical sexual abuse can be extended beyond the 2-year time limit usually applied to CICA claims.

If you’re in any doubt about whether your circumstances could allow you to make a claim outside of the normal time limits, please speak with an advisor regarding the question of “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”. Our advisors will happily check for you so please give us a call.

How Long After An Accident Outside The UK Could I Claim?

If you’re injured while abroad, the time limits that apply to your claim might be different from those in the UK. For any holiday accident claim such as a cruise ship accident or accident on a flight, there are several different routes a claim could follow.

If you booked your holiday with a UK package holiday provider, then you could claim using UK legislation and have a 3-year time limit. Package holiday legislation can usually be applied if you purchased two or more key parts of your holiday, and paid for them at the same time, from a UK company. Claims could be made for injuries as well as illnesses like food poisoning. If you are injured or made ill on a package holiday, it’s important to let the company or your holiday rep know as soon as possible to give them the chance to remedy the situation themselves.

However, if you’ve booked your holiday independently, you may need to claim using local legislation. This means that the time limits and compensation amounts could be different from those in the UK. That said, we could still help you begin a claim. You’re not obliged to use a solicitor in the country where the accident happened. We could represent you and deal with any complex legal differences, so please get in touch if you’d like to discuss a claim or ask “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”.

Personal Injury And Accident Compensation Claims Calculator

Aside from wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”, you may also be wondering how much compensation you could be entitled to. Now that we’ve looked at the different time limits involved in bringing different types of claims, we’re going to look at compensation amounts.

As every claim is unique, the best way to receive a personalised estimate is to speak with an advisor. Instead of using a personal injury claims calculator, which some people find difficult to use, we’ve provided the table below. It shows some compensation amounts that could be paid for some specific injuries.

Updated April 2021.

Claim TypeInjury SeverityCompensationMore Information
Neck InjurySevere£61,710 to £122,860These injuries usually involve serious fractures of the cervical spine or other forms of serious damage which result in disability such as substantial loss of movement.
Neck InjuryMinorUp to £7,410Soft tissue damage where full recovery happens between 3 and 12 months.
Back InjuryModerate£11,730 to £26,050Common back injuries such as muscle and ligament disturbance that results in backache and soft tissue damage which exacerbates and existing back problem.
ShoulderModerate£7,410 to £11,980Soft tissues damage (with more than minimal symptoms) or frozen shoulder causing limited movement are included in this category.
WristFractureIn the region of £6,970Examples in this category include an uncomplicated Colles' fracture.
HipModerate£11,820 to £24,950Injuries which require a hip replacement now, or in the near future, could be included in this category.
LegModerate£26,050 to £36,790Includes complicated or multiple fractures as well as serious crushing injuries.
AnkleModerate£12,900 to £24,950Fractures or ligament tears which cause problems when walking on uneven ground or standing for long periods of time.

The figures are based on guidelines produced by a legal body called the Judicial College, which reviews compensation awards made by the courts. As you’ll see, each compensation bracket is based on the severity of the injury. It’s important that your solicitor can demonstrate the level of suffering to try and ensure you’re compensated properly.

To help with this, as part of the claims process, our solicitors will arrange for you to visit a local medical specialist. They will assess your injuries and ask some questions about how you’ve suffered. Then they’ll prepare a report detailing what injuries you’ve sustained, what impact they had and if there will be any long-lasting problems.

Personal Injury Claim Special Damages

When making a personal injury claim, your solicitor can claim for heads of loss known as general damages and special damages. The idea behind general damages is to ensure you’re compensated for any pain or suffering or loss of amenity experienced because of the injury. We won’t discuss those here as the table in the previous section showed some examples of general damages.

The purpose of special damages is to compensate you for any financial losses incurred as a result of your injuries. Here are some examples that could be included in your claim:

  • Care Costs.
    In cases where you require support while you’re recovering, you could ask for associate costs to be paid back. For instance, you could claim back any carer’s fees. Also, if a friend looked after you, an hourly rate for their time could be calculated and claimed for.
  • Travel Expenses.
    It’s not unusual to need to visit a GP, hospital or pharmacy multiple times following an accident. Therefore, any fuel, parking or other related costs could be claimed back.
  • Medical Costs.
    It’s true that most people will receive treatment for their injuries free from the NHS. However, prescriptions, over the counter medicines and other treatments can become costly. This means you could claim those costs back.
  • Lost Income.
    Should you lose income because you can’t work following your accident, you could ask for it to be included in your claim. This might be because you’re unable to work while you recover or because you need to attend a medical appointment.
  • Future Lost Income.
    If your injuries affect your ability to work for the long term, you could claim back future lost earnings. The amount you’ll receive will depend on how you’re affected, your age, current salary and job prospects.

Remember to keep any bank statements, receipts or wage slips to help make a special damages claim easier.

No Win No Fee Claim Time Limits

If you’re wondering “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”, the prospect of having a timeframe to raise funds for legal help can be daunting. It’s fairly common to worry about the cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer when deciding whether to make a claim or not. To give you the confidence to seek compensation and to reduce your financial risk, our team of solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis for all claims they handle.

When your claim is referred to a solicitor, they’ll assess its merits. If they’re happy to take your case on, they’ll provide you with a No Win No Fee agreement. This is sometimes called a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA.

When you read the CFA, you’ll see that:

  • The case can begin with no upfront fees.
  • There aren’t any costs while the claim progresses.
  • If the case isn’t won, you won’t need to pay any solicitor’s fees.

If the solicitor goes on to win your claim, you might be asked to pay a small percentage of your compensation towards your solicitor’s fees. This is called a success fee, which is a percentage of your compensation that’s deducted after the claim is settled. So that you don’t worry about this too much, they are legally capped, and the success fee is listed in the CFA.

Find out if you could claim on a No Win No Fee basis by calling us today.

How long after an accident can you claim compensation? – Related FAQs

How long do I have to make a personal injury claim?

Personal injury claims typically have a 3-year time limit within which you must begin your claim if you wish to pursue compensation.

Can I make a personal injury claim after 3 years?

Some exceptions apply to this time limit, including for those who can’t claim for themselves.

What exceptions apply to the personal injury claims time limit?

Those who can’t claim for themselves, including those under 18 and those lacking the mental capacity to make legal proceedings, have their time limit frozen until they are able to do so.

Can I claim on behalf of a loved one?

Yes, you could assume the role of a ‘litigation friend’ in order to pursue compensation on behalf of a loved one that can’t claim for themselves.

How long do I have to make a criminal injury claim?

Criminal injury claims typically have a 2-year time limit within which you must begin your claim if you wish to pursue compensation.

How can a No Win No Fee agreement help?

No Win No Fee agreements can help you avoid paying out-of-pocket for legal help. This is because there are no upfront or hidden fees and you’ll only pay your lawyer if they win your compensation for you.

What can Legal Expert do for me?

Legal Expert offer claims management services, working alongside a panel of personal injury lawyers with over 30 years of experience. For a free consultation, please get in touch with our team of specialist advisors today.

How can I get in touch with Legal Expert?

Please see the next section for contact details.

Start Your Claim

Thanks for reading this guide answering the question “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”. If you’ve decided that you’d like to begin a personal injury claim with us, then here are the best methods of contacting us:

How long after an accident can you claim compensation?

How long after an accident can you claim compensation?

We’ll start by offering a no-obligation consultation of your claim. Our advisor will listen to what happened, how you were injured and who was to blame. They’ll provide free advice about your options too. If your claim is strong enough, you could be introduced to a personal injury solicitor. Any claims our solicitors take on are handled on a No Win No Fee basis.

Essential References

Hopefully, this guide has answered the question, “How long after an accident can you claim?” As this is the last section, we’ve provided you with links to some more of our guides, plus other external resources that you might find helpful. If you need to know anything else, please feel free to contact a member of our team.

Accident At Work Time Limits – This guide looks at the time limits involved for personal injury claims linked to workplace accidents.

Whiplash Compensation Claims – Information on the time limits for claiming for whiplash following a road traffic accident.

Car Accident Claims – This guide looks at how long after a car accident you file a claim.

The Health And Safety At Work Act 1974 – Legislation that can be used to support claims for workplace accidents.

The Health And Safety Executive (HSE) – The HSE are responsible for enforcing various pieces of legislation regarding workplace safety.

Litigation Friends – Information from the government on the processes involved with becoming a litigation friend.

Thanks for reading our guide on “how long after an accident can you claim compensation?”.

Written by Hambridge

Edited by Billing

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