If you suffer an injury at work and it wasn’t your fault, you are entitled to claim for damages. However, there is a strict time limit in which to make your claim. Generally speaking, this is three years from the date of the accident, after which you are unable claim any compensation. While three years may seem like a sufficient amount of time, it is important to start the process as soon as possible in order to ensure that you can obtain the relevant evidence and information needed to make a successful claim for compensation.
Why a three-year limit?
The three-year time limit is set in law because the older an accident is, the less chance an employer or employee has of finding witnesses or recollecting the events that caused the accident. In addition, employers only have to keep documents such as personnel files or accident books for a limited period of time, so there may not be any evidence available to prove or disprove a claim. Furthermore, if an accident occurred many years earlier, people who worked at the company during that time may have left, making it impossible for a company to dispute the claim.
Exceptions to the rule
There are a few exceptions to this three-year rule. Firstly, the three-year time limit doesn’t always apply from the date of the accident. After some accidents, it could be days, weeks or even years before an employee realises that he or she has been injured by it. This is particularly true for industrial illnesses that have developed after several years, or for conditions such as repetitive strain injury. In these cases, the three-year limit applies from when an employee first gains knowledge that he or she has suffered an injury, which in most cases is the date of a medical diagnosis.
How does the rule apply to children?
The three-year limit also differs for children. In employment law, a child is defined as somebody under 18 years of age. For children who have received an injury whilst at work, the clock doesn’t start ticking until their 18th birthday. This means that if a 16-year-old is injured at work then they can still make a claim for damages when they are 21.