Time limits under the Limitation Act 1980—personal injury claims

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Time limits under the Limitation Act 1980—personal injury claims
  • Personal injury claims
  • When will a claim be a personal injury claim for limitation purposes?
  • The general rule
  • When will time run from?
  • Date of accrual of cause of action
  • Date of knowledge
  • When is a claim brought?
  • The court’s power to disapply the limitation period
  • Suspending limitation by consent
  • More...

Time limits under the Limitation Act 1980—personal injury claims

The Limitation Act 1980 is referred to as LA 1980.

LA 1980 sets out the time limits within which claimants are entitled to bring claims of various types.

In general terms, a defendant will have a complete defence to any claim that is brought after the expiry of the time limit applicable to it. After expiry of the relevant limitation period, the claim is said to be statute barred.

The purpose of the limitation period is to prevent injustice to a defendant being presented with a stale claim that it did not expect to have to deal with.

Personal injury claims

The LA 1980 will apply to the vast majority of personal injury claims, whether arising from accidents or from contraction of a disease. The ordinary limitation period for personal injury claims is governed by the provisions set out at LA 1980, ss 11 and 14.

In a claim for personal injury governed by LA 1980, s 11(4) provides, subject to a limited exception (where a claimant dies before the expiry of the period), that the period applicable is three years from:

  1. the date on which the cause of action accrued, or

  2. the date of knowledge (if later) of the person injured

NOTE: Practitioners should be alive to those personal injury claims to which LA 1980 does not apply. For those claims, see

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