Learn How Long After A Car Accident Can You Claim Compensation

By Daniel Picard. Last Updated 19th July 2023. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be wondering how long you have to make a car accident compensation claim. A car accident can result in both physical and psychological injuries and can have a significant effect on your life. 

In this guide, we will discuss the car accident claim process, including the criteria for claiming and how and when you should report a car accident. We’ll also discuss how long you have to make a road traffic accident claim, including cases of children and those who lack the mental capacity to claim for themselves.

Following this, our guide will discuss compensation in car accident injury claims. There are two heads of claim that you may be able to pursue; we’ll explore these different heads and the way that legal professionals value different areas of your claim. 

Finally, we will discuss the ways in which a No Win No Fee solicitor could help you claim. Our panel of solicitors are experts in road traffic accident law and can help you gather evidence to support your injury claim for a car accident.

If you’d like to get started or learn more about our expert panel of solicitors, our advisors are here to help. Contact a member of our team today to start your free consultation by:

How long after a car accident can you claim compensation?

Car accident compensation claim time limit guide

Jump To A Section

  1. How Long After A Car Accident Can I Claim?
  2. How And When Should You Report A Car Accident
  3. Time Limit For Fatal Car Accidents
  4. Time Limit When Claiming On Behalf Of A Child
  5. Claiming On Behalf Of Someone With A Diminished Mental Capacity
  6. Does Going To Court Affect The Time Limit?
  7. Compensation Payouts For A Car Accident Injury Claim
  8. Steps You Could Take To Claim For An Injury In A Car Accident
  9. Claiming For A Car Accident With A No Win No Fee Solicitor
  10. Where To Learn More

How Long After A Car Accident Can I Claim?

If you’ve sustained an injury in a car accident, the claim time limit can vary depending on your circumstances. However, the Limitation Act 1980 tells us that the general time limit to abide by is 3 years. This means that you have 3 years to begin a claim following the date of the accident.

Although, there can be scenarios where this time limit can be extended. Some examples include claims involving claimants under 18, or claimants with a reduced mental capacity. In these cases, their time limit will be suspended. For children, their time limit only begins on their 18th birthday.

For those with a reduced mental capacity, their time limit only begins if they recover.

In both cases, a litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf during the suspension period.

Additionally, you may not have realised you were injured at first. You can use the date you become aware of your injuries as the start date of your 3-year time limit. This alternative start date is known as your date of knowledge.

To find out if your time limit for a car accident claim has expired, get in touch with our advisors today.

How And When Should You Report A Car Accident

Before we look at how long after a car accident can a claim be made, let us explore how and when a car accident should be reported.

Who To Report To?

  1. The police – While in many cases, a car accident would be reported to the police right away, if you were not aware you were injured at the time, for example, you could report it to the police after the event.
  2. Your insurer – You may wish to get in contact with your insurer, even if you do not initially believe there has been any damage.
  3. The MIB – This is an organisation that helps provide compensation to those injured by uninsured/untraceable drivers.
  4. A hire company – If your vehicle is hired, then it would be wise to contact the hire company to report the accident.
  5. An employer – If your vehicle is a company vehicle, it would be wise to report the accident to your employer.
  6. A lawyer – If you feel you could have a claim for compensation, it might be a good idea for you to get legal advice. We could help with this.

When To Report An Accident

  • The police – If details were not exchanged between you and other parties involved in the accident at the scene, you would usually have 24 hours to report a car accident to the police. You can usually report online, in person or over the phone.
  • The insurer – In most cases, you should also report a car accident to your insurers within 24 hours of it occurring. However, it may be wise for you to check the time limit on your policy, to make sure.

Time Limit For Fatal Car Accidents

While some car accidents could leave those involved with bruising, a sprain, or a strain, for example,  in other cases, the injuries they receive could be quite serious and, in severe cases, they could lead to the injured party passing away. It may be possible for you to make a claim for compensation on behalf of a loved one who has passed away due to a car accident that was not their fault.

If you’re wondering how long after a car accident can you claim compensation for a fatality, your claim may be subject to the following time limits:

  1. In the instance that the person passed away right after the accident, you would usually have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim.
  2. If the person died days, weeks, months or years after the accident, but they were within the three-year limitation period when they passed away, you could have three years from the date they passed away to claim.

Time Limit When Claiming On Behalf Of A Child

If your child has been in a car accident and has suffered a broken bone, shock, or another type of injury, you could claim compensation on their behalf.  The compensation would usually be put in trust for your child until they turn 18. You would have up until your child turns 18 to make such a claim. If you do not do so, your child would have until their 21st birthday to claim for their injuries.

However, we would advise you to consider claiming as soon as possible after such an accident so that the evidence could be easier to gather. If you have taken witness contact details, for example, these could be subject to change as time passes, so it might be more difficult to get in contact with a witness later on.

Claiming On Behalf Of Someone With A Diminished Mental Capacity

If you had a diminished mental capacity at the time of your accident, you may be wondering how long after an injury can you claim compensation. On condition that you were being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983 while you were in the accident, your three-year time limit would not begin until you were discharged from treatment.

If someone you are responsible for with a diminished mental capacity was injured in a car accident, you may be wondering how long after a car accident can you claim compensation for personal injury on their behalf. This could depend on the circumstances of the accident, so it would be wise to get advice tailored to your specific situation on this. You can call our team on the number at the top of the page to learn more.

Does Going To Court Affect The Time Limit?

You might be surprised to know that it is not common for car accident claims to reach the courts. Many claims of this nature are settled outside of the courtroom. Your solicitor would submit your claim to the defendant’s insurers or solicitors requesting compensation. Once liability had been admitted, they would then usually negotiate a settlement for you. However, if a settlement was not agreed on, or liability was disputed, the court may be asked to decide what would be fair.

When you make a claim through the court, the personal injury claims time limit would still apply. Your court action must have begun before the car accident injury claim time limit has been reached. In some cases, if your case is reaching the end of the limitation period, your solicitor may issue court proceedings protectively, to give you more time to obtain evidence, for further investigation into the claim, or for a settlement to be reached, for example.

Compensation Payouts For A Car Accident Injury Claim

If, as well as wondering how long after a car accident can you claim compensation for injury, you are curious about how much compensation you could receive for your personal injury claim, you may be looking for a personal injury claims calculator to give you an idea of the compensation settlement your claim could attract. However, we should mention that this would never be an accurate sum, as all claims would be assessed on their own merits, and compensation would not be calculated to a more accurate level until you had attended an appointment with an independent medical expert so that a medical report could be prepared to detail your condition and your prognosis. This would then be used to value your claim.

We understand that it may feel frustrating not to know how much your claim could be worth until you have had such an assessment, so we have collected some guideline payout amounts for specific injuries that we believe could relate to a claim of this type. Displayed below are figures taken from the Judicial College Guidelines. This is a publication that is annually updated to offer guidance on injury claim settlements in England and Wales.

InjuryNotesGuideline Payout Bracket
Moderate Neck InjuriesDislocations/fractures which lead to severe symptoms immediately after the injury is sustained and could require spinal fusion. Chronic conditions where other referred symptoms elsewhere in the body could also be included here. There could be vulnerability to further trauma in the future, and could also cause significant function impairment.£24,990 to £38,490
Moderate Neck InjuriesWhere pre-existing conditions could have exacerbated by the injury, for a period of 5 years or more. Also included in this bracket are wrenching injuries or soft tissue injuries that could cause disc lesions resulting in cervical spondylosis.£13,740 to £24,990
Back Injuries (Moderate)Where a crush/compression fracture leads to substantial risk of osteoarthritis. There could also be constant discomfort/pain and spinal fusion may be necessary.£27,760 to £38,780
Shoulder Injuries – SeriousWhere the shoulder has been dislocated and there has been some damage to the brachial plexus leading to hand or forearm sensory symptoms. A break of the humerus leading to a restriction of movement in the shoulder could also fall into this bracket.£12,770 to £19,200
Fractured Bone – ClavicleYour award would be calculated based on the level of disability, the extent of the fracture and any symptoms that you were left with.£5,150 to £12,240
Colles’ FractureUncomplicatedIn the region of £7,430
Very Serious Leg InjuriesWhere you are left with permanent mobility problems, and may need crutches or other mobility aids for the rest of your life.£54,830 to £87,890
Moderate Leg InjuriesWhere there are multiple/complex fractures usually to one limb. Severe crush injuries could also feature in this bracket. Injured parties’ award levels would be calculated considering the risk of degenerative changes, impact on the ability to work of the injured party, how perfect/imperfect the union of fractures was, and more.£27,760 to £39,200
1+ Whiplash InjuriesSymptoms lasting 18-24 months£4,215
1+ Whiplash Injuries With 1+ Psychological InjuriesSymptoms lasting 18-24 months£4,345

If you cannot see the injury or injuries you’ve suffered in the table above, please feel free to call our team. We could offer some guidance over the phone.

Will The Whiplash Reforms Affect My Claim?

On May 31st 2021, the way some whiplash claims are made in England and Wales changed with the introduction of the Whiplash Reform Programme. Now, drivers and passengers aged eighteen or over who suffer injuries valued at £5,000 or less must make their claim in a different way. In this case, the compensation you receive for whiplash injuries will be in line with the tariffs set out by the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. However, it’s worth noting that non-whiplash injuries will be valued in the traditional way.

If your claim is valued at £5,000 or above, it’s possible that the whiplash reforms won’t affect the process. Because of this, it’s important that your claim is valued properly, with full consideration given to all areas. To find out how a solicitor from our panel could help you with this, contact our team of friendly advisors today.

Steps You Could Take To Claim For An Injury In A Car Accident

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, as well as asking how long after a car accident can you claim compensation, you might also be interested in what to do next, whether you are considering claiming at this juncture or not. Some of the actions you could take could include:

  1. Getting medical attention – we would advise you to seek medical advice if you have been injured in a road traffic accident, no matter how minor your injuries may seem initially. Some symptoms of certain injuries, such as whiplash, for example, may not present right away and getting advice on how to deal with such an injury could give you the best chance of recovery.
  2. Taking photographs – If you can, and it is safe to do so, it may be a good idea to take photographs of the scene and your injuries. This could help not only to prove you’ve been injured but if you have photographic evidence of the positioning and damage to the vehicles involved, it could go some way towards proving who might have been at fault.
  3. Taking witness details – If anyone has witnessed the car accident you were injured in, it could be wise to take their contact details. In addition to this, it would be wise to also take the other driver’s details, including their insurance company’s details and vehicle number plate.
  4. Write down what happened – It might also be a good idea to write down what you’ve experienced and how it has affected you. You could refer to this if you were asked what had happened and you needed a reminder.
  5. Seek legal advice – If you are looking for advice, support or guidance with your claim, Legal Helpline is here to help. With years of experience in assisting claimants with a wide variety of personal injury claims, we can offer free, no-obligation advice on claiming compensation.

Our friendly, knowledgeable advisors would be able to perform an eligibility check on your case to let you know whether you could claim compensation for your injuries, and if they believe you could, they could also connect you with a personal injury solicitor, working on a No Win, No Fee basis to assist you further. There is no charge for advice, and by calling us for guidance or to check your eligibility, you would be under no obligation to use our services. However, we believe you could benefit from our assistance, as many claimants have done so before.

Claiming For A Car Accident With A No Win No Fee Solicitor

There are many benefits to claiming with the help of a No Win No Fee solicitor. Our panel of expert solicitors have years of combined experience in road traffic law and offer their services to claimants all over the country; this means that you aren’t limited to working with a local legal professional. 

Our panel also offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that, through a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), they won’t ask for any upfront fees in order to begin work on your claim. Likewise, should your claim fail, your solicitor won’t take a fee for their services.

If your claim is successful, then your solicitor will take a small fee. This success fee comes straight out of your compensation as a small percentage, but there is a legislative cap in place to ensure that you keep the majority of what you’re awarded receive.

To learn more about making a car accident compensation claim and the benefits of working with a No Win No Fee solicitor, contact our team of helpful advisors today. Through a free consultation, a member of our team can evaluate your case and could potentially connect you with a solicitor from our panel. Get started by:

Where To Learn More

The MIB – If you were injured in a car accident and the other driver was untraceable, your claim may be put through the MIB. You can read more about what they do on their website.

Whiplash Injuries – If you have suffered whiplash as a result of a car accident, this NHS guide to whiplash could be useful.

Safety Statistics – GOV – You can find some information relating to road traffic accident statistics here.

You can learn more about car accident claims below:

Thanks for reading our guide that aims to comprehensively answer the question ‘How long after a car accident can you claim compensation?’