Personal Injury Limitation Periods
The law regarding personal injury compensation is complicated and specialised, and the advice that can be obtained from this Service can only be very general in its nature. We stress the importance of seeking advice from a private legal practice which specialises in personal injuries litigation, which can fully investigate the circumstances of your claim and advise as to your prospects of success.
Alternatively the local legal practices who have an active involvement in Suncoast Community Legal Service are listed here. Please refer to the firms identifying themselves as specialising in compensation claims.
If you do intend to instruct a no win/no fee law firm to handle your case, please check out the general information on no win, no fee costs agreements here.
It is important that you act quickly to protect your interests and that you do not miss one of the time limits which apply to bringing a claim for compensation for personal injury. Failure to make appropriate notifications and bring claims within these time limits may result in your claim being jeopardised or even completely lost. The only type of claim which is not subject to a limitation period are those resulting from the abuse of a person when they were a child.
Filing a Claim in a Court
All personal injuries claims in Queensland other than those involving child abuse must be commenced in a court by filing a Claim and Statement of Claim within a three (3) year period beginning on the date the action arises. This is usually the date the injury is received, but the time limit can run from a later date in some circumstances. For example if the personal injury claim is on behalf of a child a claim is available at any time up until three (3) years after the child has turned 18. If a claimant isn’t aware of a ‘material fact of a decisive character’ relating to the claim – e.g. that they have actually suffered an injury, a Court can allow a one (1) year extension from the time when they learned of the material fact. A personal injury claim as a result of abuse while the claimant was a child can be commenced at any time.
Prior to filing a Claim and Statement of Claim in court, various steps must be taken to ensure the limitation period can be met.
The law requires a claimant to provide early notice of an intended claim to the relevant respondent, in the interests of potentially settling the claim out of court. If the relevant notices are provided within the relevant time-frames, the respondent can’t object to the filing of a claim in court.
The type of notice required and the limitation period vary depending on the circumstances of the injury as follows:-
The majority of personal injury claims (slips and falls, assaults etc.) are under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act. Under this Act, a Part 1 – Notice of Claim must be provided to the respondent within nine (9) months from when the action arose. However once a legal practice is instructed to act, the Part 1 – Notice of Claim must be provided by them within one (1) month.
For a claim involving child abuse, while the timeframes do not apply, the Part 1 – Notice must still be given.
Claims arising from medical treatments or procedures are brought under a different part of the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act. Only a brief Initial Notice must be given within the nine (9) month and one (1) month time frames. The Part 1 – Notice of Claim must then be provided within one (1) year of receiving a response to the Initial Notice. Where the claim involves medical treatment of, (or procedures on) a child, a parent or legal guardian must give the Part 1 – Notice within six years.
For claims that are under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act, our Personal Injuries Self Help Kit may assist you. It can be found here.
For claims relating to injuries at work notification must be given by way of an Application for Compensation under the Workcover Act, within six (6) months of the injury occurring.
For claims arising from motor vehicle accidents where a Compulsory Third Party insurer is involved, a Notice of Accident Claim Form under the Motor Accident Insurance Act must be provided within nine (9) months of the actions arising. A one (1) month period also applies and it runs from the time you consult a lawyer (including a Community Legal Service) rather than when you instruct a lawyer to act for you. For motor vehicle accidents in which the vehicle at fault is either unregistered or unidentified, the Nominal Defendant must be notified within three (3) months of the accident. While a reasonable excuse may be accepted for a delay, if notice is not provided within nine (9) months you will lose the right to pursue the claim.