Limitation periods: Do you know how much time you have to make your claim?

In personal injury and other civil matters there are time frames in which claims must be brought.

These time frames are strict and if a claim is brought outside the limitation period it will likely be rejected, unless there is a reasonable excuse for the delay in bringing the claim.

Different time frames apply to different types of claims; therefore, it is important to know which statutory limitation period applies to your particular claim.

Workers’ Compensation Claims (claims made from 01/01/02)

Notice must be given to the employer of the employees’ injury as soon as practicable and this notice must be given before the employer leaves the employment.

Claims for compensation must be made within 6 months of the date of injury. However, claims can be made within 3 years of the date of injury if the failure to make the claim was due to ignorance, mistake, absence from the state or any other reasonable cause.

Appeals against a medical assessment must be made within 28 days.

Work Injury Damages (claims made from 26/11/01)

Work injury damages claims must be made within 3 years from the date of the injury, except for where leave is given by the court.

Court proceedings cannot commence until a claim for damages has been made in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation statutory limitations as mentioned above.

A claim for lump sum compensation must be made at the same time or prior to a work injury damages clam.

Personal Injuries (claims made from 06/12/02)

Personal injuries include medical negligence claims, public liability claims, and product liability claims.

Medical Negligence & Public Liability

Claims must be made within 3 years from when the cause of action is discoverable or 12 years from the time when the act or omission causing the injury or death occurred.

  • NOTE: Discoverable means the first date that the person knows or ought to know that the injury or death has occurred, the injury or death was caused by the fault of the Defendant, and in the case of injury, the fact that the injury was sufficiently serious to justify the bringing of an action.

For minors the limitation period is not suspended until they reach 18 years of age if they have a capable parent or guardian. For minors who are injured by a parent, guardian or close associate the limitation period commences when the minor turns 25 or from the date of discoverability, whichever is the latter.

Product Liability

Actions for damaged (from 01/01/11):

  • 6 years after the date of the cause of action accrues (Note: this does not apply to personal injury actions)

Actions against manufacturer and importers of goods (from 01/01/11):

  • 3 years from the date the person became aware or ought to have reasonably become aware of the alleged loss or damage, the safety defect of the goods, and the identity of the manufacturer, or within 10 years of the supply of the goods by the manufacturer

Motor Vehicle Accidents (claims made from 5/10/99)

Claims must be made within 6 months of the accident or death by completing a Personal Injury Claim form.

There is a principle limitation period of 3 years. This 3 year period does not include the time from when the claim is referred for assessment.

Referral to MAS does not suspend the time limitation

There is no suspension of time for minors

Compensation to relatives (acts or omissions on or after 06/12/02 leading to death)

First to expire of:

  • 3 years from date when cause of action is discoverable
  • 12 years from the death of the deceased
  • If You’re Unsure, Make Sure to Contact a Lawyer

    As you can see the time frames surrounding personal injury claims and common law claims are complex, and change greatly depending on the type of claim being made, which is why it is important to know the statutory limitations.

    If you did not know you could make a claim and the limitation period has expired it is strongly advised that you contact a lawyer at your earliest convenience as you may have a reasonable excuse which would allow you to make an out of time claim.

    Reference: Lawcover Insurance Pty Limited, ‘Schedule of Limitation Periods in Civil Matter in New South Wales’ (2017) 24.

About Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling, Founder of Garling & Co is a NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law. He specialises in compensation law and has acted on behalf of thousands of injured people in work accidents, motor vehicle accidents and negligence cases over the last 20 years.

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