If you have been involved in an accident there may be so many other things to think about, that making a claim* is the last thing on your mind. You may be dealing with trauma or injuries and it can take a while before you feel ready to pursue a personal injury claim*. Unfortunately, if you wait too long, you could miss out on the compensation you are entitled to.
There are many reasons for making your claim as soon as possible, including the availability of evidence and reliability of witnesses. And many people just want it to be dealt with as quickly as possible so that they can put the experience behind them.
Another very important reason for acting quickly is that under the Civil Liability and Courts act 2004 the claim should be made within two years of the accident.
Reasons for Delay
However as there are also many reasons why a claim might be delayed, there are exceptions to this rule. The two years period is said to start from the “Date of Knowledge”. This is the date when you have the knowledge required to make a claim. Although this may be the actual date of the accident, there are exceptions, so this is not always the case.
For example, you might not know who to claim* against until well after the accident. In this case, the two-year period would begin on the date you got that information.
Another common scenario is when you only become aware of the seriousness of your injuries at a later date. You might develop a back-problem years later which is the result of a previously undiagnosed injury from the accident. In this case the date of knowledge it set at when the diagnosis was made.
That is why it is important to have even minor injuries investigated right away. It ensures that any underlying issues will be treated. Also, your medical records with details of any diagnosis and treatment following the accident will support your case.
Exceptions are made for children, under 18, at the time of the accident. A child cannot make a personal injury claim* although a parent, guardian or other representative, known as a “Next Friend” can claim on their behalf. However, if no claim is made, the child has two years from the date of their 18th birthday to make the claim, regardless of how long ago the accident was.
Other exceptions include circumstances where the accident made the person unable to make the claim. Injuries from the accident might have caused brain damage leading to mental impairment; or they might be undergoing medical treatment making it impractical for them to deal with the claim.
So, while it is always best to make your claim* as quickly as possible, if you have not been able to do so, it might not be too late. The best way to find out is to discuss your case in confidence with one of our personal injury specialists to help you decide what your next step should be.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.