Legal action out of time

Question: If you are eventually forced to retire through ill health, do you have to take this decision within 3 or less years from first realizing that it is your job that is causing the problem, or 3 years from the point you realize you are no longer capable of carrying on, or what? Is your decision to carry on working deemed to be a form of contributory  or acceptance of the conditions and problems? Or is it possible that the original cause and fault of the injury can be taken into account anyway in the employment/disability law case on dismissal? Or is the 3 year limit not relevant here because one can take the claim for causing the injury under some different branch of law?

Answer 1: As law graduate, perhaps I can answer this question. This comes under The Limitation Act 1980. Section11 refers to the three year period from the date on which the cause of action accrued, or the date of the plaintiff’s knowledge.  Section 14 of the same act says, a person has knowledge under section 11 when he/she knows all the following facts:  (a) that the injury in question was significant;
(b) that the injury was attributable in whole or in part to the act or omission which is alleged to constitute negligence, nuisance or breach of duty;  (c) the identity of the defendant;
(d) if it is alleged that the act or omission was that of a person other than the defendant; the identity of that person and the additional facts supporting the bringing of an action against the defendant.
Therefore, if the plaintiff is aware that the work has sustained the injury and the three year limit has lapsed it will be difficult to claim under this act.  However, section 33 of the same act also says that the court might consider the claim if the three year limit has elapsed with due regard to the following:  (a) the length of, and reasons for the delay on the part of the plaintiff:
(b) the effect of the delay upon the evidence in the case;
(c) the conduct of the defendant after the cause of action arose, including his response to the plaintiff’s reasonable request for information;
(d) the extent to which the plaintiff acted promptly and reasonably once he knew he might have an action for damages.
(e) the steps, if any, taken by the plaintiff to obtain medical, legal or other expert advice and the nature of any such advice as he may have received.    Also now that the Human Rights Act is in force this may affect the above act, because under article 6 everyone has the right to a fair hearing. The whole argument rests on ‘knowledge’. If this can be established when you first became aware that work related to your injury, then this is the crux of the case. Unfortunately, it might be difficult for a solicitor to make an informed judgement on this and it may be necessary to take Counsel’s opinion on it.


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