MYTHS ABOUT LIMITATION 9: DISABILITY DOES NOT SUSPEND THE LIMITATION PERIOD: ONCE THE GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE IT CAN’T GET BACK IN
I wrote about this issue recently. It makes sense to include it in this series. This myth considered here is that disability “suspends” a limitation period. This is a safe assumption if a claimant has never had capacity since the accident. However the briefest period of capacity means that the limitation period has started running. Once a limitation period has started it does not stop.
ONCE A LIMITATION PERIOD STARTS IT NEVER STOPS
If you have a client who does not have capacity it is unsafe to that limitation is not running. The limitation clock can still be running (or even have expired). This is because if the claimant has ever had capacity at any time since the accident then the limitation period has started running. Once the limitation period starts running it does not stop. This means that claimants (and sometimes defendants) will have to consider the medical evidence with care to see whether or not there have been periods of capacity since the accident. If the claimant has never had capacity then the limitation period has not started running. If the claimant had capacity at some time then the limitation clock has started to run.
NOT A NEW RULE?
The principle was established in the case of Prideaux -v-Webber (1661) 1 Lev 263.