Personal Injury – Delay in Contacting Solicitors Can be Fatal to Your Claim


If you suffer loss or injury as a result of an accident that you believe was someone else’s fault, you should contact a solicitor immediately. The potential consequences of delay in doing so were underlined by a case concerning a security contractor’s death in a freak accident whilst he was working in Iraq.

At the time of the accident, in 2012, the man was engaged by a company to provide security services at a camp for oil and gas industry personnel which was being built near Basra. He was returning from a morning jog when an unsecured steel gate weighing three tons toppled onto him, causing fatal crushing injuries.

Due to a long delay in his widow contacting English solicitors, a personal injury claim was not issued against the company until 2019 – seven years after the accident and four years after expiry of the three-year limitation period that applies to such cases. As a preliminary issue, the High Court considered the question of whether the widow should nevertheless be permitted to proceed with her claim.

Ruling on the matter, the Court found it difficult to understand why the widow did not consider consulting a solicitor earlier than she did. She was, however, coping with her husband’s death and with becoming the principal breadwinner for their young child. Other factors for which she was not responsible contributed to the delay and, overall, it was not so egregious as to count heavily against her.

The Court noted that the widow’s case appeared to be a strong one. There was little or no dispute as to the circumstances of the accident and, although memories had faded and some evidence was no longer available, a fair trial of her claim remained possible. The Court exercised its discretion under Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 so as to disapply the limitation period, thereby enabling the widow to press ahead with her claim.

Share this article