The Statute of Limitations imposes strict time limits within which an injured person must commence their claim. If you don’t commence proceedings within these very rigid time limits your claim will be absolutely extinguished, no matter how seriously you have been injured. For this reason, the need to take steps without delay if you have been injured through someone else’s fault cannot be emphasised enough.
The general rule is that you have two years from the date on which you suffered your injury to issue proceedings. Now, to the layperson, this may seem like a very long time indeed. But anyone who has been through a personal injuries claim will tell you that it is a perilously short period which can be overshot all too easily if care isn’t taken to commence investigations straight away.
You’ve got to take on board that most people who have been seriously injured don’t make an appointment to see their solicitor the day after this has happened. It will often take them several months to have recovered sufficiently (both physically and emotionally) to the point where they feel strong and well enough to even consider taking legal advice on whether or not they have an actionable claim.
You’ve also got to bear in mind that your solicitor may not be in a position to submit your claim to the Injuries Board the minute you walk through the door of their office. Quite a bit of investigation may be required to identify all of the individuals who could potentially be liable to compensate you.
When you add up all of these time periods (the period of time spent recovering from the accident plus the period of time before you first instruct a solicitor plus the period of time spent investigating who is at fault) you’ll find that two years is a very short and unforgiving period and that great injustice can easily occur if people don’t go about exploring whether they have a case soon enough.
But, while one should never be complacent or make any assumptions, there are certain circumstances in which the extremely harsh rule of imposing a strict limitation period of two years from the date of the injury to the date of issuing proceedings is alleviated which I will deal with in future posts.