How long do I have to claim for a injury?

Updated: March 26, 2020

If you have been injured at work you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. You will usually need to start a claim within 3 years of your injury, after which time a claim would not be possible. There are exceptions, however:

Limitation Period

After an accident or injury at work, you have a period of 3 years in which you can start a personal injury claim. This period is known as the 'limitation period'. The clock starts ticking on the day you are diagnosed, become aware of, or could reasonably have known about your injuries. This date is called the 'date of knowledge'.

For most people, the date of knowledge will be the same date as the accident, but this is not always the case.

What if I was unaware of my injuries at the time of the accident?

Sometimes injuries and illnesses develop months, or even years, after an accident or exposure.

For example

  • Lung disease caused by inhalation of toxic substances that have been leaked or spilt.
  • Skin problems due to exposure to chemicals where the exposure levels have not been managed or monitored
  • Development of severe headaches or epilepsy following a trauma to the head

If you were not aware of your injury or illness at the time of the accident, you have 3 years from the date of knowledge to start your claim.

What if I was under 18 when I was injured?

If you were injured at work when you were under the age of 18, the rules are different. If you are still under the age of 18 you will need to appoint a 'litigation friend' to act for you. A litigation friend will usually be a parent, guardian, carer or friend. The litigation friend has until your 18th birthday to start a claim on your behalf.

If you are now over 18 or wish to wait until you are 18, you will have until your 21st birthday to start a claim.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?

Most people pursue a work injury claim through a solicitor. Legal Aid is no longer available in the UK for personal injury claims and most claims are made on a No Win, No Fee basis. After the 3 year limitation period has expired, a claim becomes 'statute-barred'. This means that a claim can no longer be filed at court.

Before the claim can be filed, the solicitor will need to do a lot of speculative work as they build your case. This work can take many months, as evidence must be collated, medical reports obtained and liability established.

Most solicitors are therefore unlikely to take on a new work injury claim within 6 months of the limitation date. Many solicitors require 12 months before the limitation date.

If you have been injured at work, the best advice is to seek legal advice as soon as possible after your accident. Not only will this give you plenty of time but it will increase the chances of your case being successful. The sooner you act, the easier it will be for your solicitor to collate evidence (such as CTV and witness statements) to support your claim.

Have you been injured at work?

If you have been injured at work in the last 3 years, you may be able to claim financial compensation.

Find out more about making a work accident claim:

  • Do you qualify?
  • How much compensation could you get?
  • How does No Win, No Fee work?
Work accident claim guide