Dont Miss The Time Limit To Claim
Understanding the different time limits that apply for personal injury claims can be a tricky business – even for lawyers.
After all, the broad heading of personal injury covers a whole range of different matters, including motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, medical negligence, public liability (slips and falls) and dust diseases. The time limits can vary depending on the type of claim.
Theres a general rule that you have 3 years to commence legal action from the time of your accident.
Under the Limitation Act the court may grant a five year extension if it thinks its just and reasonable to do so. And it can extend beyond that for three years from the date of discoverability, usually to cover conditions that dont show up for a long time. In law speak, the date of discoverability means when you know (or ought to have known) three things; that an injury has occurred, that it was someone elses fault, and that its serious enough to justify suing. But different rules apply if you let the time run out for accidents on the road or at work.
In addition to the 3 year limit, other time limits apply for some accident claims.
For example, under the Motor Accident Compensation Act you have to notify the police within 28 days of your motor vehicle accident. Then you have to lodge a claim form with your CTP insurer within 6 months.
And for work accidents, you need to let your employer know of your injury immediately and its their job to notify their insurer within 48 hours. They must provide you with a claim form within 7 days, and the compensation claim should be lodged within 6 months of the injury.
If youre injured in an aircraft or an accident involving two boats colliding, or youre making a victims compensation claim, the time limit is 2 years, not 3.
For dust disease cases there is no time limit, because asbestos disease symptoms can take many years to appear.
Different rules apply again if you suffer injury as a minor (under 18) due to a parent / guardians negligence. In that instance, the 3 year time limit to sue doesnt start until youre twenty five. (Later still if you havent discovered the cause of your injury/illness at that time).
And if your lawyer doesnt meet the relevant time limits, you can sue them. This gets particularly murky as the time limit for suing the lawyer who missed the time limit (still with me?) is 6 years.
Clearly the law isnt always black and white.
Just be aware that time limits exist. If youve been injured due to someone elses negligence, dont delay in seeing a lawyer.