One problem which the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Team at Trethowans repeatedly see is people being unaware that they have only 3 years from the date of a negligent incident to bring a claim. This 3 year timeframe is called the Limitation Period and is applied strictly by the Courts. If a Claim Form is not sent to court within this this time limit the claim will be out of time (known as “statute barred”), and the claimant will usually be unable to pursue the matter.
A Court may sometimes give discretion to extend this Limitation Period, but this is extremely rare and there needs to be a very good reason. A claimant cannot argue that they were simply unaware of the time limit.
In some cases, it may be possible to rely on a later “date of knowledge”, where the 3 year time period runs from a date after the original incident. Such cases typically include those where the claimant may not actually be aware that there was anything wrong until a later date (for example, in exposure to asbestos cases the date of knowledge will generally be when the claimant first thought that they had an asbestos related illness, or in a delay in diagnosis case it will often be when the claimant was first told that they do have something wrong with them).
James Braund, Senior Associate at Trethowans Poole office, states that “people should seek specialist legal advice, in such claims, at the earliest possible opportunity in order to ensure that legal representation is put in place in good time for any such time limits to be overcome. It is always better to be early in such claims than late and out of time.”