Is There a Time Limit on When I Can Make a Medical Negligence Claim?

Geoffrey Simpson-Scott, Partner
Author:
Geoffrey Simpson-Scott
Partner, Head of Medical Negligence
Date:
22/03/2019

Updated 17/1/2022

Yes, there is. If you’re considering making a Medical Negligence Claim, it’s important to know what the time limit is before starting legal proceedings.

In most cases, the time limit for making a claim is three years – this is known as the Limitation Period. So if a claim is brought forward outside of this three-year time limit, you’re unlikely to get compensation.

You might be unsure what counts as medical negligence, it can include:

  • Delayed or incorrect diagnosis
  • Failure to warn about the risks of a treatment or surgery
  • Injuries caused during surgery
  • Failing to get informed consent before carrying out a treatment or surgery
  • Wrong prescription or dose of medication given

If you’ve suffered from medical negligence, there are two main options available to you:

  • Making a Duty of Candour complaint against an NHS Trust – this should be done within 12 months. A member of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) may also try to resolve any issues informally before taking your complaint further to an independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service.
  • Starting legal proceedings by making a medical negligence claim – if you go down this route, the three-year time limit will apply.

For free legal advice, get in touch with our Medical Negligence Solicitors and ask if we can handle your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Call us on 0808 239 6043 or request a callback

When Does the Time Limit Start?

Usually, the time limit for claiming compensation for medical negligence will start from when the incident happened or when you first realised you’d suffered from medical negligence. The latter is known as the ‘Date of Knowledge’ and the 3-year time limit will start from this date in these cases.

Are there any exceptions?

There are some exceptions to the 3-year time limit, however. We’ll talk through each of these in turn below.

Claiming on Behalf of Someone who has Died

Unfortunately, there are some situations where medical negligence proves to be fatal. When this happens, a claim can be made on behalf of the person who has died. The time limit to do this is 3 years from the date of their death or from the date their family became aware of medical negligence.

Claiming on Behalf of a Child

When a child has suffered medical negligence, the time limit to make a claim won’t start until they’re 18 years old, there will then be a 3-year Limitation Period for a claim to be brought forward.

This doesn’t mean a claim can’t be brought earlier. Parents can claim on behalf of their child at any time before their 18th birthday.

Adult without Mental Capacity

If someone who has suffered medical negligence is deemed to not have the mental capacity to bring a claim, the 3-year limit will be extended to start from the date they’re capable of understanding the implications of pursuing compensation.

In situations where mental capacity won’t be regained, a claim can be brought forward by what’s called a ‘Litigation Friend’.

Claiming Under the Human Rights Act

In some hospital negligence cases, someone seeking to make a claim for compensation might consider submitting a claim under the Human Rights Act 1998. In this scenario, legal proceedings will usually need to start within a year of the potential breach of the person’s human rights.

Why Should I Make a Claim Early?

3 years can sound like a long time, but when taking into account the time taken obtaining expert medical reports and completing the relevant paperwork, it’s not a large amount of time to submit a claim.

Seeking legal advice early will give you peace of mind that deadlines that could put your compensation at risk won’t be missed. A legal expert can make sure you’re compensated for costs such as:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Care and assistance
  • Lost earnings and income
  • Special care aids and appliances
  • Future medical treatment

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors can talk through your situation with you as part of a free claims assessment and let you know if you have an eligible claim.

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