Useful information about personal injury claims

You should note that the law in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands may differ from the below. If you believe that your case may fall within one of these jurisdictions please contact the Legal Advice Line for advice.

Index of contents

Time limits

  • In the UK you usually have up to 3 years following the incident to bring a personal injury claim.
  • Time limits on claims that occur abroad may be subject to different, usually shorter, time limits. It is therefore important to report the accident as soon as possible.

Proving your claim

  • It is possible to bring a claim for accidents caused by another person and for criminal cases e.g. assault.
  • A personal injury claim is usually, but not always, brought in negligence. In order to prove negligence you will need to prove that the incident causing your injury was somebody else’s fault, that this person owed you a ‘duty of care’ and that what they did, or failed to do, caused your injury or illness.
  • Duty of care is a legal obligation to take reasonable care not to injure others. It can be imposed on individuals and entities such as businesses. For example an employer owes a duty of care to its employees, a company owes a duty of care to the users of its products and individuals owe a duty of care to others.


  • You should keep receipts for all expenses you incur as a result of your claim e.g. taxi journeys.
  • It is important to gather evidence relating to the accident e.g. taking photographs and writing an account of what happened as soon after the accident as possible.
  • You should also ensure that you seek medical advice as the medical practitioner is likely to be asked to provide a report detailing the injury should you wish to claim compensation.
  • If the accident happened on the road you should advise your insurance company and the police.
  • If the accident happened on someone else’s land e.g. in a supermarket or on council property you should advise the owner of the land as soon as possible.
  • Your employer should have an accident book in which details of the accident should be recorded. If they do not have one then you should send details of the accident and your injury to them in writing.


  • You may feel that, in the circumstances, an apology would resolve matters to your satisfaction. If this is the case you will probably find that raising a complaint with the organisation concerned would be sufficient.
  • If you were injured as a result of a crime you may be able to claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. You should report the incident to the police as soon as possible and an application must usually be made within 2 years of the injury occurring.
  • If you are injured by another person in the commission of a crime and they are prosecuted for this crime you can ask the police to ask the court to make a ‘Criminal Compensation Order’. This can compensate you for injury, loss or damage but is limited by the amount the offender can afford to pay (up to a maximum of £5,000).
  • If you were injured as a result of negligence you can bring a civil claim in the county court.


  • The amount of any compensation you may be entitled to will depend on the extent of your injury and will be subject to assessment by the court.
  • You may be able to claim compensation for things like; pain and suffering, loss of amenity (e.g. a reduction in your quality of life), medical care, loss of earnings and damage to personal effects.
  • If a court decides you are partly responsible for your injuries it may reduce your compensation accordingly e.g. if you were injured in a road traffic accident but you were not wearing a seatbelt, this is called contributory negligence.
  • Employers are required by law to have employer’s liability insurance, it is likely therefore that any compensation for injury would be paid by the insurer rather than the employer themselves. Although this is not always the case.
  • If you have been receiving certain social security benefits you may have to pay these back from the compensation you receive.

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