The date of knowledge is the date you knew, or should have known, that you had grounds for a work accident claim. This might be the date of your accident, the date of your diagnosis, or the date you first became aware of your injury or illness.
Work accident solicitors
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness in England or Wales, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our work accident solicitors act on a no win no fee basis. This means you don’t pay our legal fees unless the claim succeeds.
How long do you have to claim for an accident at work UK?
You have three years to make a work accident claim in England and Wales. The amount of time you have to make a claim is called the ‘limitation period’ and is governed by the Limitation Act 1980. With personal injury claims, the limitation period starts either from the date of the injury or the date of knowledge – whichever comes later.
What is the date of injury?
The date of injury is the date your accident happened.
The limitation period starts from the date of injury if you were aware of the injury or illness as soon as it occurred. For example, imagine that you slip on a wet floor at work and fracture your arm. You go to A&E the same day and the injury is identified there and then. In this case, the date of your accident is the same as your date of knowledge. You were immediately aware of your accident and injury, and you should have suspected that your employer’s negligence was to blame. If this slip happened on 2 January 2022, then you would have until 2 January 2025 to bring a claim.
What is the date of knowledge?
The date of knowledge is the date that you knew, or should have known, that your injury or illness could be attributed to your employer’s negligence.
The limitation period starts from the date of knowledge if you did not know about the injury or illness straightaway. The limitation period will also start from the date of knowledge if you could not have known that your injury or illness was caused by your employer’s negligence. For example, imagine that you develop asthma, only to discover years later that this is because you were exposed to toxic chemicals at work – which your employer lied about. The day you became aware of the truth is the date of knowledge.
Our personal injury solicitors can calculate the date of knowledge in your case. This is the date that you should reasonably have known that you had grounds for a claim. This could be the date that you:
- Started to experience symptoms
- Received a medical diagnosis
- Suspected you had an injury or illness
- Realised that your employer (or former employer) is to blame for your injury or illness
Why is the date of knowledge important in personal injury claims?
The date of knowledge is important in personal injury claims because this is the date from which your three-year limitation period starts. In practical terms, this means that you must have filed a claim with the courts before three years is up. You do not necessarily have to have settled the claim, but you must have issued court proceedings.
When you make a work accident claim, one of the first things a personal injury lawyers wants to know is: what is your date of knowledge? As discussed above, this may be the date of your accident. Or, it may be later if there was a delay in your diagnosis or circumstances meant that did not realise you had grounds for a claim.
If three years has already passed since your date of knowledge, then your claim will be statute-barred. This means you cannot make a claim, even if your case would have stood a good chance of success.
If you only have a few months left to make a work accident claim and you have not yet instructed a solicitor, then you may struggle to find a lawyer to take your case on. This is because there is a lot of work involved in a personal injury claim, such as getting your medical records and ordering medical expert reports. If there isn’t enough time to do this work, then a solicitor does not want to risk taking your case on, only for the claim to be statute-barred. That is why we always recommend getting early legal advice, if you think you have grounds to make a work accident claim.
The date of knowledge in work accident claims
The date of knowledge is particularly important in work accident claims. Unlike in a car accident, for example, work-related injuries are not always immediately obvious. Often, they do not occur because of a single incident, but after prolonged exposure. It would therefore be impossible to name a precise date of injury.
The same is true of work-related illnesses. Someone may be exposed to asbestos at work, only to be diagnosed with mesothelioma many years later. It would be unfair to bar a claim in this instance, as the claimant could not have known that they were suffering from a work-related illness until a diagnosis was made.
A work accident claim may rely on a later date of knowledge where the claimant is suffering from:
- Pleural plagues
- Industrial deafness
- Occupational asthma
- Any other injury or illness that was not diagnosed at the time
- An injury or illness, the severity of which is worse than originally thought
This is not an exhaustive list. The bottom line is that if you think you have grounds for a work accident claim, you need to get early legal advice.
If the claimant dies from their injuries, then their bereaved loved ones can pursue legal action instead. Family members have three years to bring a claim, starting from the date of death. This applies, even if the claimant started the claims process while they were alive. However, the limitation period must not have expired during their lifetime, or the claim will be statute-barred.
Can I claim for an accident after three years?
Work accident claims must be made in England and Wales within three years. But there are some exceptions to this rule. This includes if:
The injured person is under the age of 18, in which case the three-year limitation period starts from the date they turn 18. A claim can be made before this, but a parent or legal guardian must bring the claim on the child’s behalf.
The injured person permanently lacks mental capacity, in which case there is no time limit whatsoever.
The injured person temporarily lacks capacity, in which case the three-year limitation period only starts once capacity has been regained.
The injured person was in the armed forces and was injured in the line of duty, in which case they have seven years to bring a claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. If injured military personnel decide to pursue a normal civil claim instead, then the standard three-year time limit applies.
The injured person has died, in which case the three-year time limit starts from the date of death, so long as the limitation period did not expire during their lifetime.
You have a later date of knowledge, in which case the three-year time limit starts on the date you realised, or should have realised, that you had grounds for a claim.
If none of these exceptions apply to you, then it may be very difficult to bring a claim after three years. However, the court can make additional exceptions if there is a compelling reason to do so.
What does it mean if the claim is statute barred?
If a claim is statute barred, then it means you cannot pursue a claim for compensation in relation to that particular injury or illness because you have run out of time.
The law sets time limits on personal injury claims. This done to prevent delays and protect individuals/organisations from having to defend historic claims for which there may be little to no evidence. Although there are exceptions (as outlined above) a personal injury claim must be settled or at least filed with the courts within three years. If you miss this three-year deadline, then your claim is not allowed to proceed. This will be difficult to bear, especially if you had strong grounds for a claim.
Take action now – speak to a work accident solicitor
That is why you must speak to a work accident solicitor as soon as you become aware that you have suffered a work-related injury or illness. If you leave it too late, then you may run out of time. Or, you may struggle to find a solicitor to take your case on.
The law caters for situations in which the injury or illness was discovered at a later date. Therefore, even if your work-related injury or illness can be attributed to events that happened more than three years ago, you could still have grounds for a claim. This ensures you get the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury solicitors can discuss the limitation period with you in more detail.
Personal injury solicitors
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We specialise in personal injury claims and can act on your behalf.
You can call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.