What is the medical negligence claim time limit?
Medical negligence claims are often complex so you should take legal advice as soon as possible as, to bring a claim, there is a medical negligence claim time limit.
For adults who have capacity, the time limit to bring a medical negligence claim is three years from the date the negligence occurred or, if symptoms take time to present themselves, the date you became aware of them.
Are there any exceptions?
Children under the age of 18 have three years from the date they turn 18 to bring a claim. However, if a parent has made a claim on behalf of a child before they turn 18, the child cannot bring the same claim once they become an adult. If an individual suffered medical negligence as a child but is later deemed to lack mental capacity to make a claim as an adult, there is no time limit.
Victims with diminished mental capacity
If the claimant is a protected party, someone with a diagnosed mental impairment or lacks mental capacity, there is no time limit. This also applies if the negligence they suffered resulted in diminished mental capacity or brain damage. However, if they recover from their mental illness, they have three years from the date of their recovery.
If the victim has passed away, the estate has three years from the date of death to bring a claim provided limitation has not already expired. If the negligence is undetected until the victim dies, the three year time limit is calculated from the date of death or discovery, whichever is later. Should a victim pass away during the claim, the estate will have three years from the date of death to continue with their claim.
Why is there a time limit on medical negligence claims?
Time limits were introduced as protection for potential defendants. The three year period was deemed to be a reasonable amount of time to enable someone to make a claim, whilst ensuring it is made promptly.
The reasons that the medical negligence claims time limit has been set at three years is that witnesses may forget what happened and that medical notes could have been lost or destroyed.
Accordingly, the earlier you make your claim, the more likely you will be able to source all the relevant evidence. By ensuring claims are made promptly, the court is more likely to have a clearer picture of events.
Can I bring a medical negligence claim out of time?
These time limits refer to the time you have to issue (commence) a formal claim at court.
You should, therefore, make your claim as close as possible to the date of negligence or knowledge.
If you think three years have passed, then your claim is probably time-barred. However, you should still obtain legal advice to check exactly when the time period ended as there are some circumstances under the Limitation Act 1980 when a court will allow you to bring your claim out of time.
If you would like to begin your claim, then please click here.