Medical Negligence Claims Time Limit | Fieldfisher
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Dealing with claims time limit: How long is it and are there exceptions?

Generally, there is a very strict time limit in medical negligence claims in which to issue Court proceedings against a defendant, usually a hospital trust.

That date is determined either from the date the medical negligence occurred, or the date you realised your injuries were likely caused by negligent treatment. In most cases, a lawyer will issue proceedings on your behalf in a medical negligence claim.

How long do I have to claim for medical negligence?

In most cases, you must have begun formal legal proceedings in a medical negligence claim within 3 years following the incident, or your claim will be considered out of date. A defendant can refuse a claim if it is outside of the 3-year claims time limit.

Can I claim from the date of knowledge of negligence rather than injury?

Yes. The 3-year medical negligence claims time limit can begin from the date you realised your current injuries were likely caused by medical negligence. 

For example, if during surgery in June 2019 something clearly went wrong and you are left injured by that negligence, you have until June 2022 to issue proceedings in court. 

If, however, it only became clear in November 2020, that problems with your health were caused by negligence during surgery, or perhaps due to a missed diagnosis, you would have until November 2023 to begin your claim. 

Are there exceptions to the time limit for medical negligence time limit?

Yes. The time limit in which to make a medical negligence claim is different for a child or anyone without mental capacity to pursue a claim.

Children: You can bring a claim on behalf of a child at any point until they are 18. Once 18, the child can bring their own claim. The three- year time limit only starts to run from when a child reaches their 18th birthday and therefore expires when they reach 21 years of age.

Adults without capacity: there is no time limit where a person lacks capacity to bring their own claim. You can claim on their behalf at any time. 

If the claim concerns a patient with a mental disability, the 3-year claims time limit does not apply until (and unless) they recover from their disability. A parent or other person close to them can therefore bring a medical negligence claim on their behalf.

Fatal claims: if a loved one has died, there is also a time limit within which to bring a claim. This is generally three years from the date of their death. There are exceptions to this time limit if the deceased was aware they had suffered a significant injury from negligent treatment before they died. We advise you to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible.

Can I make a medical negligence claim after 3 years?

Only if the time you realised you suffered an injury possibly due to medical negligence was some time after the incident occurred, or if you are claiming on behalf of a child under 18 or if a person lacks mental capacity (see above).  

The Court does have limited discretion to allow medical negligence cases to continue outside the 3-year time limit, but this is rare.

What happens if the time for a medical negligence claim has expired?

Generally, if the time limit for pursuing a medical negligence claim has expired you will not be able to pursue your case. We advise you to speak to a solicitor to discuss this.

Is it possible to get an extension on the time limit for medical negligence claims?

It is sometimes possible to agree an extension to the time limit with the potential defendant(s) before the time limit has already expired, for example, to allow more time to investigate your claim. We advise you to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible.

Contact us

Our team of expert medical negligence lawyers are happy to discuss your possible claim with you over the phone free of charge, including advising on the timescale for medical negligence claims.

To speak with one of our medical negligence solicitors call 0800 358 3848, email personalinjury@fieldfisher.com, or complete our online enquiry form.

Contact us

For a free, no obligation call with one of our medical negligence experts, please dial 0800 358 3848 or complete our online enquiry form.