Common law time limits

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What time limits apply?

According to the Limitation of Actions Act (1958), an action for damages for personal injury must be brought:

  • within 6 years of the date of the injury
  • within 6 years of a minor turning 18.

If a writ is not issued before the expiry date the claimant may lose the right to sue at common law. In most cases the TAC will maintain the action is invalid because it was commenced outside the statutory 6 year time limit. The TAC, however may decide not to use this defence in certain circumstances.

When is the limitations defence waived?

The TAC will try to accommodate any reasonable request for an extension of time provided there is an explanation for the delay and there is reasonable cooperation with the TAC in providing information.

Circumstances where the TAC may accommodate such a request include:

  • the TAC receives a SIC request before the 6 years and no decision has been made
  • the TAC receives an impairment request before the 6 years and no decision has been made
  • when a SIC is denied, this is communicated after the 6 years and the person applies to the court to bring proceedings for the recovery of damages, (origination motion)
  • an application for review of the impairment decision is lodged before the 6 years and no decision has been made

In circumstances where the 6 year period is approaching the claimant should request the TAC for an extension of time or waiver of the limitation period. Once a decision in respect of the above is made by the TAC, the claimant will usually have a further 28 calendar days in which to start a common law action.

Can the limitation period be extended by a court?

Yes, under the Limitation of Actions Act (1958), a claimant can apply to the court to have the limitation period extended.

For further information about TAC policies contact the TAC on 1300 654 329. Alternatively, email policy@tac.vic.gov.au.