How long do I have to make a personal injury claim in Northern Ireland?

6 minute read

How long do I have to make a personal injury claim in Northern Ireland

There are time limits for making a personal injury claim

As we have one of Northern Ireland’s busiest and top-ranked (Chambers and Partners) personal injury departments, we often get enquiries from people injured many years ago. Unfortunately, some individuals do not realise there is a limitation period when claiming for personal injury and occasionally cases can become statute-barred meaning it is no longer possible to claim.

The time limit and the exceptions are written into law through The Limitation (Northern Ireland) Order 1989.

How long do I have to claim and when does the limitation period begin?

You have three years to initiate legal proceedings and the time usually starts from the date your accident occurred. However, it can also commence at a later date in certain circumstances, such as:

  • If you were injured as a child, the time limit begins on your 18th birthday.
  • If you were not immediately aware of your injuries. For example, they manifested later, or you were incapacitated.
  • You did not know the identity of the person or group responsible.
  • You do not or did not at the time, have the capacity to manage and administer your affairs.

A Judge has discretionary powers to permit a claim after the time limit has run out, however this is rare. You should seek expert legal advice to determine if your specific set of circumstances would likely allow for an exception.

You must issue proceedings before the end of the limitation period

It is a common misconception that people have three years to make contact with, or instruct, a solicitor. This is incorrect. You must issue proceedings within this time period.

It is important to remember to give a solicitor enough time to initiate your claim by issuing proceedings.

Is there a time limit for settling or winning a case once a claim begins?

Once your solicitor issues proceedings, you have an unlimited amount of time to take the case to a conclusion. However, slow progress is bad for all parties involved and our personal injury solicitors will not dither in relation to your claim. The reason there is no time limit following the issuing of proceedings is that some cases can take as little as three months to conclude whereas more complex cases involving serious injuries can take several years. Once proceedings are issued, the Court will review your case periodically to ensure it is progressing. 

Why is there a limitation period on personal injury claims?

The government placed a time limit on claiming to incentivise swift action. The chances of successfully claiming lessen as more time passes between an accident and taking legal action. This is because memories fade and gathering medical evidence becomes more difficult.

Why would someone wait to claim?

We have been given several reasons for individuals allowing the time limit to run out that would not meet the requirements for an exception from the Courts. Some examples include:

  • The person did not know that they were entitled to claim. It’s important to know your rights.
  • They underestimated their chances of having a viable claim until a friend or relative convinced them otherwise. You should always seek independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor as soon as possible.
  • They thought there was an unlimited amount of time to claim.
  • They intended to claim but continuously put it off because they were busy until they ran out of time. We are experts at claiming for personal injury and we have refined our services over many years to make them convenient, accessible and stress-free. You would be surprised how easy it is to claim using McCartan Turkington Breen Solicitors.

I was injured in an accident that wasn’t my fault, what should I do?

Do not let yourself run out of time. We offer free initial consultations with an expert personal injury solicitor who can assess the viability of your claim in a matter of minutes. You have nothing to lose by asking the question, even if you have your doubts. You can learn more about our services at Personal Injury Claims or you can arrange a consultation by contacting us.


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