The Limitation Act 1980

How long do I have to make a claim for clinical negligence or personal injury?


The Limitation Act 1980 plays a crucial role in the field of clinical negligence and personal injury law.  Negligence, in law, is an act or failure to act, that does not meet the level of appropriate care expected, which results in injury or loss. The Limitation Act 1980 sets forth specific timeframes within which a claimant must bring their case before the courts.

As a law firm with extensive expertise in these areas, Pinney Talfourd LLP is dedicated to providing clarity on this complex legislation and its implications for individuals seeking compensation for harm suffered due to clinical negligence or personal injury incidents.

What is the Limitation Act 1980?

The Limitation Act 1980 is a statute that governs the limitation periods for bringing legal claims in England and Wales. In the context of clinical negligence and personal injury, it outlines the time limits within which a claim must be initiated in court. These timeframes are designed to ensure that claims are brought promptly and efficiently, balancing the interests of claimants seeking justice and defendants aiming for timely resolution.

Clinical Negligence

In clinical negligence cases, the Limitation Act 1980 stipulates that a claim must be commenced within 3 years from the date the claimant becomes aware of the negligence and its resulting harm. This is known as the “date of knowledge,” and it is the point at which the claimant reasonably ought to have known that they sustained an injury due to clinical negligence.

The date of knowledge is a critical aspect of clinical negligence claims as it marks the starting point of the limitation period. However, the intricacies of determining the exact date can be challenging, and this is where the expertise of Pinney Talfourd LLP becomes invaluable. Our skilled lawyers have a deep understanding of the complexities involved in identifying the date of knowledge and will work diligently to establish this crucial starting point for your claim.

Personal Injury

For personal injury claims arising from accidents and incidents unrelated to clinical negligence, the limitation period is generally set at three years from the date of the accident. As with clinical negligence claims, the Limitation Act 1980 allows for certain exceptions and discretionary extensions based on specific circumstances.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the three-limitation period is generally adhered to, the Limitation Act 1980 does allow for certain exceptions. For instance, if the claimant is under the age of 18 at the time of the negligence or the date of knowledge, the limitation period will not begin until his or her 18th birthday. Additionally, if the claimant lacks the mental capacity to pursue the claim, the limitation period will not commence until they regain capacity.

Moreover, the court has the discretion to disapply the limitation period in exceptional circumstances. This is particularly relevant in cases where it would be equitable to allow a claim to proceed despite the elapsed time, such as when new evidence comes to light or when a claimant discovers the extent of their injuries years after the initial negligence.

How Pinney Talfourd can help

Navigating the Limitation Act 1980 in clinical negligence and personal injury cases requires expert legal guidance. At Pinney Talfourd LLP, our dedicated team of lawyers possess a wealth of experience in handling such claims and are committed to helping claimants understand their rights and pursue the compensation they deserve.

If you believe you have a clinical negligence or personal injury claim, do not hesitate to contact our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team. Our team is here to provide you with comprehensive advice and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

This article was written by Emma Rayner, CILEX Lawyer in the Accidents and Personal Injury Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of August 2023.



Emma Rayner

Emma Hardie

CILEX Lawyer

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