Statute of limitations - Personal Injury Case

Statute of limitations and how long do I have to take a Personal Injury Claim/Case?

Prior to 2004, the Statute allowed a period of 3 years within which to take a Personal Injury Claim, however, the Courts Act of 2004 reduced that to 2 years in respect of personal injuries based on negligence, nuisance or breach of duty.

In the case of medical /dental negligence, generally speaking the period is 2 years from the date of the accrual or the date of knowledge (if later)  There are other exceptions to the rule.

A straightforward type of example is as follows: A road traffic accident occurs where Plaintiff A is rear-ended by Defendant B on the 1st of January 2019. Plaintiff A suffered injuries arising out of the accident.

He/she has 2 years from 01/01/2019 within which to commence a personal injury case. That period expires on the 31/12/2020. Just because the Plaintiff A goes to his solicitor and gets them to write a solicitor’s letter doesn’t automatically mean that the clock has been stopped.  Time continues to run until such time as the claim is lodged with the Injuries Board and they acknowledge safe receipt of the application, however, that should be done before the 31st of December 2020.

“Date of knowledge” is a more complex issue. It is the date on which he or she had knowledge of the following facts:-

  • That the person alleged to have been injured, has been injured.
  • That the injury in question was significant.
  • That injury was due in whole or in part to the act or omission which is alleged to contribute negligence, nuisance or breach of duty, the identity of the Defendant.
  • If it is alleged that the act was that of a person other than the Defendant, the identity of that person and the additional facts supporting the bringing of an action against the Defendant.

For example, someone has an accident and cuts their hand with glass, an x-ray of the hand is done, that x-ray is misread, and the doctors do not realise that there is some glass still in the hand which should be removed. If the person does not become aware of the presence of the glass until they start to have complaints, say 4 years after the event, then time starts to run from the time the patient first becomes aware of the glass in their hand.

In cases of money due and owing by a third party to another party, then the time allowed to take such proceedings is 6 years. If the claim is not brought within that time, then it is Statute Barred.

In defamation cases the time period is 1 year from the spoken word or for the printed matter.

It is important to point out that the Statute of Limitations is a complex area of law, so it is important that you immediately consult someone in the litigation department of the office to discuss the issue as soon as possible after an adverse event. (At least it will help for you to understand this complex area of law.)

Furthermore, recently there is a new directive whereby notification of a claim to a liable party is to be made within 2 months of the date of accident/injury. If such notification is not made, then there could be adverse consequences,  so it all points to the importance of consulting us.