Military deafness – what is the time limit to bring a civil personal injury claim?

Military deafness – what is the time limit to bring a civil personal injury claim?

In most personal injury cases in the United Kingdom there is a 3-year time limit in which to issue court proceedings. This time limit is known as limitation.

If this 3-year period passes and a claim has not been pursued, then the matter will be deemed to be statute barred.

In effect, this means that there would be no prospect of bringing the matter before a court and receiving compensation.

Given that personal injury cases can be complex, it is always advised that if you wish to bring a claim, you seek legal advice so as soon as possible.

In cases involving a slip, trip or fall, where a Claimant has been injured, it is very easy to calculate when the 3-year limitation period expires – 3 years from the date of the incident giving rise to their injuries.

For injuries that have developed over a period of time – such as noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus, it is much more difficult to set a precise date as to when court proceedings should be issued. In cases such as this, the court would look at your date of knowledge. This is the date when you knew, or ought to have known, that you were suffering from a significant level of hearing loss and that that this was caused by the negligence of your previous employer(s) in exposing you to excessive noise. The 3- year limitation period will normally, with some exceptions, commence from the “date of knowledge”.

This explanation may seem rather complex, but it is possible to break this down into 3 questions:

  1. When did you first notice your hearing loss/tinnitus?
  2. When did it become significant/noticeable in your day to day life?
  3. When did you first believe that your hearing loss/tinnitus was linked to your exposure to excessive noise?

It is not always easy to answer these questions, and you may feel worried that you cannot give a direct answer, but a good solicitor will be able to work with you to help calculate your likely date of knowledge. Once your solicitor has this information your claim can be investigated.

If you, a friend, or someone within your family is military/ex-military personnel and are suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus then Wolferstans may be able to help. Please visit our Industrial Deafness page for more information.

Or, if you would like to book a free consultation please contact Alexandra Nicholas on 01752 292234 or email For any other legal advice, please contact our Armed Forces Engagement Champion, Natasha Mason, on 01752 292274 or email

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