People working in all sorts of different fields deal with deadlines every day. Something must be done by a certain time, or else there are consequences.
Legal matters are no different. Time limits apply by which a person must bring a legal action, including compensation after they are injured in an accident.
If you try to make a personal injury claim outside of the allowable time limit, you may lose your ability to achieve a pay-out to compensate for your injury.
For this reason, it’s important to act promptly once you’ve been injured in an accident and think you have a justifiable claim for compensation.
Speaking with compensation experts is crucial to have your matter dealt with in time. At Lifestyle Injury Lawyers, we can help gather evidence, medical reports and other documents to make sure your injury claim is filed correctly and on time.
What are the time limits in Queensland?
In Queensland, personal injury claims must be commenced within three years from the injuries were sustained.
The Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld) (‘MAI Act’) governs motor vehicle accident claims in Queensland, including relevant time limits.
Under the MAI Act, an injured person who wants to take court action to seek compensation for their personal injuries must:
- Give written notice of the motor vehicle accident claim to the insurer of the at-fault driver within nine months of the date of the accident.
- Alternatively, if a person consults a lawyer about the possibility of making a claim, the time limit is one month after that consultation.
In response, an insurer must advise a claimant that their claim meets (or does not meet) legislative requirements within 14 days of receiving the notice of a claim and allow at least one month for the claimant to amend the claim to overcome any shortcomings.
The insurer must then respond in writing within six months to advise whether liability is admitted in total, in part or is denied.
It must also give the claimant a written offer of settlement or invite the claimant to do so.
In Queensland, personal injury claims can also be made under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) (‘PIPA), but not for personal injuries caused by car accidents or at workplaces. Certain time limits are different for claims under PIPA. You should consult experienced compensation lawyers such as Lifestyle Injury Lawyers for more information on the deadlines that apply to these claims.
Is an extension of the time limits possible?
These important deadlines in personal injury claims are found in the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (Qld) (‘the Act’).
Legal proceedings outside these limits are ‘statute barred’, which forms a complete defence to the claim.
Under sections 30-32 of the Act, an extension of time to file an injury claim may be granted by a court in limited circumstances.
An extension of time will depend on whether an application to the court can provide a reasonable excuse for not bringing the claim within the statutory time limits.
In considering whether an excuse is reasonable, the court will consider, among other things, the extent and nature of your injuries, the length of the delay, and the reasons you gave.
It should be noted that your matter does not need to be heard in court within the time limits, only that the legal proceedings have commenced by the filing of the relevant legal documents with the court registry.
In some cases, seeking the agreement of the other side to allow an extension of time may also be possible.
What happens when you’re unaware of the injury until after the time limit expires?
Some people may be injured in an accident but not become aware of the injury until after the limitation period expires. Workers who have suffered progressive lung disease due to exposure to asbestos or other cancer-causing substances at work or repetitive use injuries are common examples.
In other situations, a person may not know a critical aspect relating to their injury (also known as a ‘material fact of a decisive character’) until after the deadline for bringing legal action.
If this is the case, the Act provides an extension of a year to bring legal proceedings from the date when the injured person knew (or reasonable means of knowledge) of the material fact.
This application requires an injured person to show that the fact relating to their injury was beyond their means of knowledge.
An extension is unlikely to be granted where an injured person failed to consult a legal representative about the material fact or follow up legal advice.
Special provisions also apply to actions on behalf of children or people suffering from a mental disability.
The need for expert advice
If you’re injured in an accident, it’s important to act as soon as possible afterwards by speaking with an expert compensation lawyer.
Filing a claim for personal injury can cover a number of different scenarios, including workplace accidents, motor vehicle accidents and public liability claims such as slip and falls.
Time limits can vary between these different claims on certain steps of the process, which is why specialist advice from Lifestyle Injury Lawyers is essential.
We can ensure your claim meets all the important time limits and advise you on your options if you discover an injury as a result of an accident even after the time limit has expired.