Statute of Limitations and Date of Knowledge

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What is the Statute of Limitations and Date of Knowledge, and how does this apply to an industrial illness claim?

The time period for making a claim for an illness contracted due to the negligence of a third party is governed by the Statute of Limitations and Date of Knowledge – the ‘Date of Knowledge’ being used as the point in time that the limit for claiming compensation for an industrial illness commences.

In the case of accidents at work, it is the date of injury which is used as the start point for initiating a claim for compensation under the Statute of Limitations, and Date of Knowledge is used to ensure that the victim of an industrial illness is given the same rights and time frame for claiming compensation.

An industrial illness is a disease or health condition which has been contracted due to exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. In the majority of cases, the illness does not develop after a short period of exposure but over an extended period of time. It would be nether practical nor possible for the victim of an industrial illness to determine with any degree of certainty the point in time that exposure to a causative agent led to the development of an illness. Date of knowledge of the disease is therefore used.

The victim must however be able to establish and prove that an illness developed as a direct result of employment and involved a failure in a duty of care of an employer if a claim for compensation is to be made. There must also be an established link between a causative agent and the development of an industrial disease in order for an industrial disease claim to stand a good probability of being successful. Since it would be unreasonable to expect the victim to produce absolute proof that an illness was contracted due to employer negligence, it is only necessary to establish ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that work conditions led to the development of the disease.

Since exposure to the causative agents of industrial diseases and the onset of symptoms can often be years or even decades apart, claims for industrial diseases can be highly complicated. It is therefore essential that an experienced independent personal injury solicitor is used to assist with the recovery of compensation.

If you have received a diagnosis of an industrial illness from a doctor in the past three years, you should seek legal advice from a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible. Claims for industrial diseases can take some time to investigate and prepare before they can be filed. If an industrial disease claim cannot be initiated within the time frame set by the statute of limitations, it may not be possible to recover compensation.