Time limits for injury claims after 3 years

The standard rule is you should start a court claim within 3 years of the date you should have realised you had an injury caused by someone else.

This case is an example of how the courts show discretion outside these limits when there is a good reason to do so.

The claimant worked for the defendant between 1975 to 1995. He said he was first aware of a hearing problem in late 2004 when he noticed a “fuzzing” in his right ear. He went to his GP. Court proceedings were issued in November 2006.

The defendants quoted from his GP records. They said there was a letter from their occupational health service in September 1995 which told the GP that a recent audiogram at work had suggested noise damage to his hearing. As he had left the company in June 1995, they said they had not had the opportunity to discuss this with him and suggested that the GP do so.

The claimant denied the GP had ever raised the letter with him.

They also quoted a hospital examination in November 1997 after he had been admitted for tonsillitis. This said: “he was previously found to have mild left sensorineural hearing impairment put down to previous factory experience.”

Thirdly, the defendants pointed out that the medical report for the claimant said he had notice hearing problems for “four or five years”. The claimant requested that this be amended to “four to five months”.

1) The Judge accepted that the GP had never raised the letter from 1995 with the claimant.

2) He also accepted that it was unlikely that the hospital attendance in 1997 was a quote from the claimant. He doubted the claimant would use words like “sensorineural”.

3) The Judge also accepted the claimant had not said “four to five years” to the ENT consultant in the claim.

Therefore his knowledge started in 2004 and he was in time.