Injury victims often wonder how long they have to “bring a claim”. Well, how long do they have?
The answer is that a claim should be brought for the purposes of the Limitation Act 1980 within three years of the date of an accident. However, that date can be extended to start to run on what is known as the “date of knowledge”, meaning that the period can go beyond three years in some circumstances. Here is an example. Imagine a disease victim inhales dust or fumes which cause an injury but the injury is not known to the Claimant until 12 months afterwards when the Claimant received some lung function test results. It could properly be argued that the Claimant would have three years from that later “date of knowledge”. The same might apply to medical negligence victims who might be completely unaware that something has gone wrong until a later date. The “date of knowledge” is difficult to define in some circumstances and has both subjective and objective elements.
How do you “bring a claim”?
This is rather easier now than it used to be. Proceedings are deemed by Court rules to have been brought for limitation purposes on the date upon which a Claim Form is lodged at Court (with the fee paid). Following the Covid pandemic a new Practice Direction 51ZB set up a trial period for the DCP which is an online Claims Portal that effectively issues a Claim immediately (as opposed to the Claim Form sittting in piles of post at the County Court Money Claims Centre in Salford). This allows a County Court Claim to be made almost straightaway in the event that time is running short. In the High Court there is also a similar electronic filing process but without the immediate issue of the Claim Form (although you will have proof of the date of filing).
Can the limitation period be extended by the Court?
Yes, if the Court is prepared to exercise its jurisdiction under s.33 Limitation Act 1980. However, it is advisable to err on the side of caution in any limitation assessment situation. If you place your claim in the hands of Folgate Legal’s team there are a range of safeguards employed to prevent such applications to the Court ever having to be made.