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How Long After A Car Accident Can I Claim?

Find out how much your personal injury claim may be worth



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Contact us today by calling 0330 1332 857 to find out if you have a claim.

Wondering how long after a car accident you can claim? This is one of the most common questions people ask when considering making a claim following a road traffic accident.

If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, then your first priority will be to take care of your injuries and well-being. Most people will not start considering making a claim until they are at least partially recovered from their injuries or trauma.

Personal injury claims are bound by strict time limits and the common answer to ‘how long after a car accident can I claim?’ is three years after the accident. However, like many things in law, there are exceptions and caveats to be aware of.

If you are considering making a personal injury claim for compensation, then read on to find out how long after an accident you are eligible to make a claim. Our team of personal injury solicitors at Beacon Law are on hand to assist you with any questions you may have about the claims process.

Common road traffic accident injuries

Road traffic accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, varying from minor to severe. Here are some common types of injuries associated with road traffic accidents:

Head Injuries:

  • Concussions: A mild traumatic brain injury causing temporary loss of brain function.
  • Skull fractures: Breaks in the cranial bone, which can be severe.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): These can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage.

Neck and Spine Injuries:

  • Whiplash: A neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Can result in partial or complete paralysis.
  • Herniated discs: Discs between vertebrae can be pushed out of place, causing pain and nerve issues.

Chest Injuries:

  • Rib fractures: Broken ribs can cause severe pain and complications like punctured lungs.
  • Internal organ damage: The heart, lungs, and other organs can be injured, leading to life-threatening conditions.
  • Collapsed lungs (pneumothorax): Air escapes from the lung into the chest cavity.

Abdominal Injuries:

  • Internal bleeding: Damage to organs like the liver, spleen, or kidneys can cause internal bleeding.
  • Organ perforation: Punctures or tears in internal organs.

Limb Injuries:

  • Fractures: Broken bones in the arms, legs, hands, or feet.
  • Dislocations: Joints can be forced out of their normal positions.
  • Sprains and strains: Damage to ligaments and muscles.

Soft Tissue Injuries:

  • Bruises and contusions: Damage to small blood vessels under the skin.
  • Lacerations: Deep cuts or tears in the skin or flesh.
  • Burns: From contact with hot surfaces, chemicals, or fire during the accident.

Psychological Injuries:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Anxiety and flashbacks following the trauma of the accident.
  • Depression and anxiety: Can develop as a result of injury or the impact on life.

These injuries can have a significant impact on the victim’s quality of life, requiring medical treatment, rehabilitation, and sometimes long-term care. The severity and type of injuries depend on various factors, including the speed of the vehicles involved, whether seat belts were worn, and the point of impact.

What should you do after a road traffic accident?

If you’re involved in a road accident:-

  • Stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period. You should also report the accident to the police.
  • Give your vehicle registration number, name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different) to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details.
  • Produce your certificate of insurance to any person at the scene who has reasonable grounds to view it.
  • If you do not exchange those details at the scene, you must report the incident at a police station or to a police constable within 24 hours of the accident occurring.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company within a reasonable time. This tends to be an explicit term in your insurance policy, and any failure to report an incident may result in your insurers refusing to cover you.
  • Make sure you have the full names and addresses of the other parties involved, their vehicle registration numbers (together with make, model and colour) and the names, addresses and policy numbers of their insurance companies.
  • Make sure you have the full names and addresses of any eyewitnesses involved (including all passengers) and their vehicle registration numbers (together with make, model and colour).
  • Make a sketch of the accident location, to include street names, vehicle positions, the direction of travel, skid marks, collision points, and vehicle damage. Use a camera to take photos of the road layout, positions of vehicles, and vehicle damage.
  • If you have been injured in the accident, you should seek medical attention to have those injuries assessed and treated as soon as possible.
  • Keep receipts for any financial losses, such as vehicle damage repairs, medical treatment costs, parking costs, and travel costs.

What is the Limitation Period?

As outlined in section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980, the claims time limit in the UK for personal injury claims, including car accidents, is generally three years from the date of the accident or from the date you became aware that your injury was linked to the accident (known as the “date of knowledge”). This means you must either settle your claim or start court proceedings within this three-year period.

However, there are some exceptions to the general personal injury claims time limit as outlined in the next section.

What are the different time limits for making a claim?

Children: If the injured person is under 18, the three-year time limit begins on their 18th birthday. Therefore, they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim. Otherwise, a family member may make a claim on their behalf before the child turns 18, also known as a ‘litigation friend’.

Mental Incapacity: If the injured person is mentally incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs, the limitation period does not start until (and if) they regain mental capacity.

Fatal Accidents: If the personal injury results in death, the three-year limitation period starts from the date of death or the date when the cause of death was known to be related to the injury, whichever is later.

Why should you make a claim sooner rather than later?

If you have been injured in a car accident, then making a personal injury claim sooner rather than later is beneficial for several reasons:

Preservation of Evidence:

  • Fresher Evidence: Evidence such as witness statements, accident scene photographs, and physical evidence is more reliable and easier to gather shortly after the incident.
  • Accuracy of Details: Memories fade over time. Prompt action helps ensure that witness accounts and your own recollection of events are more accurate and detailed.

Legal Time Limits:

  • Limitation Period: The limitation period for personal injury claims is typically three years. Delaying your claim risks missing this deadline, which could bar you from making a claim altogether.
  • Avoiding Complications: Starting the process early helps avoid the risk of running up against the limitation period, which can add pressure and complications to your case.

Financial Relief:

  • Compensation for Expenses: Injuries often result in private medical bills, loss of income, and other financial burdens. Receiving compensation sooner can help alleviate these financial stresses.
  • Timely Treatment: A successful claim can cover the costs of medical treatments, rehabilitation, and other necessary interventions that might otherwise be delayed due to lack of funds.

Medical Assessment:

  • Early Diagnosis: Prompt medical attention can lead to early diagnosis and treatment, which is important for recovery and can also support your claim by providing clear medical evidence.
  • Linking Injury to Accident: Timely medical reports can help establish a direct link between the accident and your injuries, which is crucial for the success of your claim.

Psychological Well-being:

  • Reducing Stress: Knowing that your claim is in progress can provide peace of mind and reduce the stress and anxiety associated with financial and legal uncertainties.
  • Focus on Recovery: With legal and financial matters being addressed, you can concentrate more fully on your physical and emotional recovery.

Legal Process Efficiency:

  • Smoother Process: Starting the claim process early can make it easier to gather and organise necessary documents, communicate with relevant parties, and comply with procedural requirements.
  • Availability of Legal Representation: Engaging a solicitor early ensures you have access to legal advice and representation when needed, potentially improving the outcome of your claim.

By making a personal injury claim sooner, you maximise the chances of a successful outcome and ensure that you receive the support and compensation you need in a timely manner.

No Win, No Fee accident claims

We offer all claims on a no win, no fee basis. These claims allow our solicitors to proceed with your claim with no up-front costs to be paid. Throughout the personal injury compensation claim process, there will be no hidden charges or payments required from the injured person.

This type of agreement helps the injured party focus on recovering from their injuries without stressing about the financial risks.

If your claim is successful, you will only be required to pay a small amount from your final damages to your lawyer for their success. These costs will be calculated as a percentage and will be discussed with you before legal proceedings start. This payment is to compensate your solicitor for the time and work put into assisting on your case.

You may also be required to pay a small fee for ATE insurance from your compensation award if your case is successful. This will all be explained to you by your solicitor before you agree to start your personal injury claim.

If your case is unsuccessful, unfortunately, you will not receive any compensation; however, you will not be required to pay us a penny.

Why choose Beacon Law?

At Beacon Law, our law firm provides a team of highly experienced solicitors and legal professionals. We provide a high level of service to all our clients and work hard to ensure you make a successful claim and receive the highest level of compensation for your car accident. Our team have many years of experiencing in overseeing road traffic accident claims.

Beacon Law is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. To find out about our no win, no fee funding, have a look at the funding section on our website.

If you have been left thinking, ‘how long after a car accident can you claim?’, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to discuss your claim with you without any obligations.

For a free initial consultation, contact us using the form at the top of the page or using our live chat facility. Alternatively, you can call us directly on 03301332857.

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Beacon Law

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