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Time Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

Injury At WorkThe time within which an individual can pursue a personal injury compensation claim is strictly limited by law. The Limitation Act of 1980 covers a wide range of timescales that dictate when an action must be brought to court. The law covers such matters as the fraudulent breach of trust which has no time limitation, as well as breach of contract which can be pursued in a court case for up to 6 years following the action itself, and cases involving the recovery of land and money which can be acted upon for up to 12 years.

The law also includes provision for cases involving the law of tort which covers matters of liability and negligence that leads to personal injury. The legislation states that court proceedings in personal injury cases must have begun within three years of the original accident – or three years from the point at which you discovered that your injury or illness was caused by an accident or exposure to dangerous or harmful materials.

It is important to note that by the end of the 3 year period you must have started the legal proceedings – this is not the same as having spoken to a lawyer about the case, or having spoken to a lawyer and attempted to settle out of court. There may be cases where you have instructed your lawyers to pursue your claim but the proceedings may have been unavoidably delayed. In such circumstances it may be possible to apply to the Court to extend the time limit but this is not always easy.

Nevertheless, it is much simpler to get things rolling as soon as possible in personal injury cases. This will also be important when you require witness and police statements to support your claim. The sooner these are made formally the better as memories can fade with time. You are also giving your legal team the best possible opportunity to build a strong case on your behalf.

The majority of personal injury cases involve accidents and workplace slips and falls in which the responsibility and party at fault is clear – in these cases the 3 years runs from that moment. In more complex cases of medical negligence and industrial diseases that may take long periods to develop the time limit will run from the moment of diagnosis or the linking of symptoms to the workplace or the failure on the part of the medical practitioners.

A few exceptional circumstances can involve slightly different time limits, though. In cases involving children the time limit starts to run from the moment of the start of their majority – so upon them reaching 18 years of age. Similarly for cases with mental health patients the limit runs from the moment of their discharge from care. Where an individual has received a personal injury following a criminal act the limit is reduced to 2 years rather than the normal 3. Cases involving in jury following a criminal act are usually pursued by lodging an Application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and the Application Form must be lodged within 2 years of the incident.