My cycling injury occurred a while ago, can I still claim?
Any personal injury claim must be brought to court within a 3 year time limit, the start date of which depends on the circumstances of your injury or illness.
For many this date would be the date the accident occurred as this would be the time when the injuries became apparent.
However, sometimes illnesses occur as a result of a previous accident, and in these situations the "start date" would be the date you first became aware of the illness, or it was diagnosed - the date of knowledge.
If you sustained a bump to the head as a result of falling from your cycle, you may have simply dismissed it as a mere knock and not proceeded with any claim, or a claim may have been settled for a less serious injury.
But if at a later date you developed severe headaches or epilepsy it might be diagnosed that this was a consequence of the bump to your head from your earlier cycling accident.
The date that you determine that your illness or injury was caused by another's negligence is described as the "date of knowledge" - and may not be well-defined.
It could be either the date that symptoms began; the date you suspected that your illness was caused by an accident, or the date when you received an official diagnosis.
Although this is rarely the case in the context of a cycling accident, the date of knowledge can be some time after the accident, especially if symptoms did not appear for some time after the accident, or the symptoms were not originally related to the accident. In such a case you have 3 years from this date in which to start court proceedings for your claim.
What if I am close to the 3 year limit?
Although it may be difficult, it should be possible to bring a successful personal injury claim for your cycling accident.
There are a number of processes and tasks to be completed before the case is formally brought to the court, and these may take time, sometimes weeks, to arrange and fulfil.
They include gathering all the evidence and witness statements as well as arranging an independent medical examination and written report.
The success of a late claim will depend on its circumstances, so it is vital to consult an expert solicitor if you believe you have a case that is close to the deadline.
The Statute of Limitations
Even though many personal injury claims are settled before they come to Court, it is the threat of those legal proceedings (and potentially higher fees) that push both sides to come to an agreed settlement.
According to the Limitation Act 1980, Section 11 - in which it authorises a "statute of limitation" of 3 years for personal injury - your claim will be statute-barred (or time-barred) if court proceedings are not commenced before end of that 3 year period.
Because the "statute of limitations" has expired your case cannot proceed (therefore there can be no threat of legal proceedings) and you will have no formal means in which to seek compensation.
Can I claim for a family member who has died as the result of a cycling accident?
If a close family member has died following a cycling accident that was the result of another's negligence, you may be able to make a claim on the deceased person's behalf.
Whether the death was as a direct result of the accident or through its later effects - for example a bump to the head which later caused a blood clot or haemorrhage, resulting in stroke and death, the 3 year limitation period commences from the date of death.
If, as a consequence of a post mortem, the effects of the accident are discovered to be the cause of death, the 3 year limitation commences from this "date of knowledge".
My child has been injured in a cycling accident, when should we claim?
If you are the parent, guardian or other "litigation friend" you can make the claim on the child's behalf at any time up until he reaches 18 years of age.
Once 18 has been reached the Claimant can bring his own claim if it has not already been done so. The claim must be brought before his 21st birthday.
I did not realise I had a potential claim and it may be too late.
In exceptional cases, the Court may use its discretion to override the statutory limitation date, but only if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you acted as promptly as possible once you were aware of your situation.
Speak to an expert solicitor
Because there so many distinctions involved in deciding the date of knowledge you may be unsure of when your 3 year limit started. We recommend that you speak to a specialist solicitor who will advise how you may proceed.