Tel: 020 8520 1021. Email:

Tel: 020 8520 1021.


Did You Know - Understanding Time Limits in Personal Injury Claims

Navigating the Timeline of Road Traffic Accident Legal Claims

When an unexpected injury disrupts your life, understanding the legal aspects might not be your immediate priority. However, in the UK, personal injury law is governed by specific time limits that are crucial to any claim. This guide aims to provide a clear, step-by-step understanding of these time limits, ensuring you're well-informed about this critical aspect of personal injury claims.

The Essence of Time Limits in Personal Injury Claims

Time limits for road traffic accidentsDefinition and General Rule: In legal terms, the 'time limit' or 'limitation period' is a set duration within which you must initiate legal proceedings. In the UK, for most personal injury claims, this period is three years from the date of the accident or the date you first became aware of your injury.

Date of Knowledge: Sometimes, the injury or its severity isn't immediately apparent. In such cases, the three-year countdown starts from the moment you become aware of your injury – this is known as your 'date of knowledge'.

The Rationale Behind Time Limits

Time limits in legal claims aren't arbitrary; they serve several key purposes:

Preserving the Integrity of Evidence: As time passes, evidence can deteriorate or become lost, and memories can fade. Time limits help ensure that claims are made while the evidence remains robust and reliable.

Protecting the Defendant: These limits also prevent the unfairness of a claim hanging indefinitely over someone’s head. It ensures that defendants don't face the stress of potential legal action many years after an event.

Exceptions to the Standard Time Limit

While the three-year rule is widely applicable, there are notable exceptions:

For Minors: If the injured party is under 18, the three-year period doesn’t start until their 18th birthday. This means they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.

Mental Capacity: If someone lacks the mental capacity to manage their legal affairs, the time limit might be extended until they regain capacity.

The Criticality of Prompt Action

Despite the seemingly generous three-year period, it's advisable to begin the legal process promptly:

Complexity of Case Preparation: Building a strong case involves gathering detailed evidence, which can be time-consuming.

Seeking Early Legal Advice: Consulting with a legal professional early on can provide clarity on your claim's viability and any specific nuances that might affect the time limit.

Illustrative Scenarios

Scenario in the Workplace: Imagine sustaining a back injury at work in January 2021, but the pain and implications only become evident in June 2021. In this case, your three-year window may start from June 2021.

Road Traffic Incident Example: If you're involved in a traffic accident in May 2022 and immediately realize your injury, you would typically have until May 2025 to initiate legal proceedings.

 Time, a Crucial Factor in Your Claim

In the landscape of personal injury law, being aware of time limits is essential. These limits ensure that your claim is made within a legally acceptable timeframe, safeguarding your right to seek compensation. If you find yourself nursing an injury due to someone else's negligence, remember that the law offers you a window of opportunity – but it's one that gradually closes with time. Seeking prompt legal advice can be the difference between a successful claim and a missed opportunity. Remember, in personal injury claims, time isn't just ticking – it's a defining factor.

This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Use the form below to contact us about your queries.

Contact Form Demo
Or, if you prefer, call us on:
0208 520 4555.


This firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.



Cartwright Cunningham Haselgrove & Co is a long-established firm. In 2022 we were proud to announce the acquisition of local personal injury specialists Romain Coleman Solicitors who were established in 1964.


Office hours:   Mon-Fri, 9:30am-5:30pm

Telephone: 020 8520 1021

Email us at:


Details Here


Cartwright Cunningham Haselgrove & Co

277 Hoe Street Walthamstow



E17 9PL