Currently, claim limitation restrictions allow 3 years from the date of an accident, or until the 21st birthday – whichever is longer – in which a claim must be brought. But does delaying a claim lead to a lower chance of succeeding?
In a recent article, we discussed whether claimants looking to make a claim for whiplash injuries needed to claim quickly, but the ‘when to claim’ question is relevant to people pursuing any type of claim. All claimants need time to consider things before claiming compensation for their personal injury and losses, but I thought it might help to compare two very similar accident scenarios and injuries that we’ve had involvement in. One where the claimant contacted us around 3 weeks after their accident, the other where the claimant waited until their 3 year period was almost over. Both clients had been involved in accidents at work with nasty injuries and expenses including lost wages, but did the delay affect the claim outcomes?
Claimant A, an immediate claim
Claimant A contacted us after suffering nasty injuries as a result of a fall at work. In this case, instead of the employer providing an elevated work platform for the claimant to use when working at height, or relevant training regarding the dangers of such work, he was given a rather old ladder with a faulty locking mechanism. The claimant unfortunately fell onto concrete from around 18 feet, sustaining fractures to both legs, pelvic injuries and fractures to the left arm. This left the client requiring immediate medical assistance, and after spending 3 weeks in hospital with two operations he was discharged as an outpatient to continue his recovery. He was left unable to work for a period of just over 6 months and with injuries that have a permanent effect on his life.
As the claimant contacted us so quickly, we were able to easily check that the details of the incident and injuries had been properly reported and recorded, that the client knew his rights and link him to an expert solicitor to pursue his claim for personal injury compensation. Because the claim was made quickly, it was easy to obtain the evidence needed to support his claim, locate witnesses and create as strong a claim as possible. We were pleased to learn that in just over 12 months after his injuries were sustained, his claim was settled. It had taken longer than a basic claim due to the severity of injuries and value of the claim. However, if it had been left longer it would have undoubtedly taken longer.
In this instance, it can clearly be seen that starting his claim quickly benefitted the ease of the claim and the outcome.
Claimant B, a delayed claim
Claimant B contacted us just 2 months before his 3-year claim limitation period would have expired. He also had fallen from height when a scissor lift platform tipped over after being erected on soft ground without the correct anti-tip mechanisms having been put in place. He too suffered pelvic injuries and a very serious fracture to his neck. Fortunately he wasn’t left paralysed, but he did require surgery on the pelvis and neck and could not work for over 12 months. He was then unable to return to manual work and has struggled to find suitable work in other areas due to a lack of skills or experience.
As the claimant hadn’t made his claim quickly and used up almost all of the 3 years of his claim limitation, it made placing his claim far more complicated. Solicitors specialising in personal injury compensation claims usually like to have a good 6 months of the 3 year period available to enable them to prepare a strong claim. The no win no fee claims process was still available to this client but because of the impending limitation expiration, solicitors felt that the client should immediately register his claim in the courts in order to protect his rights and interests in the claim. Usually there is no upfront costs for a client to face, however because solicitors could not be certain of winning the claim (although they felt it had a strong chance) the client was required to pay the court fee to register the claim. Whilst this wasn’t a huge sum (a little over £100) it was a hurdle he could have done without given his loss of wages. However, the client did find the money and the solicitors confirmed that he would have the same refunded if he won.
Given the length of time that had expired between the accident and claim, it did make locating accident book records harder and for those who had witnessed the incident to be located for statements and evidence. This lead to a much less certain claim outcome and caused the client to suffer a far greater amount of stress and worry than he would have if he had gone down the route chosen by Claimant A.
Eventually this claim was settled in the clients favour, but it took a further 2 years from the date of the claim being made for the claim to settle – almost 5 years after the accident.
Here we can see how delaying your claim can cause the process to be more problematic and more of a hassle than it otherwise needs to be.
Don’t delay, claim today
Whilst you have every right to claim when you are ready and when you have the confidence to claim, it certainly helps to claim as soon as possible. If you are unsure, want to discuss things and find out more, simply contact us and we’ll help you to understand your rights and how to pursue your claim.