What Is The Medical Negligence Claim Time Limit?

By Lewis Morrison. Last Updated 27th October 2023. This guide will look at the time limit for medical negligence claims. If you have been harmed unnecessarily by a medical professional’s failure to adhere to the duty of care that they owe you, you could be eligible for compensation.

Within this guide, we will discuss the duty of care that all medical professionals owe their patients and the eligibility criteria you must meet to be able to make a claim for medical negligence. We will also discuss the time limit that must be adhered to when making a medical negligence claim and the exceptions that may apply. Furthermore, this guide will discuss the different heads of claim that could be awarded for successful cases, and how a No Win No Fee lawyer from our panel could help you with claiming compensation.

You can contact our advisors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if you have any questions or would like to find out if you are eligible to bring forward a claim.

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Advice on the time limits on medical negligence claims

Select A Section

  1. What Is Medical Negligence And When Could I Claim?
  2. About The Medical Negligence Claim Time Limit
  3. Time Limits For Medical Negligence Affecting Children
  4. Time Limits For Medical Negligence Affecting Those With Diminished Mental Capacity
  5. Can I Claim Medical Negligence After 10 Years?
  6. Examples Of Medical Negligence
  7. Medical Negligence Claim Calculator
  8. Claim With A No Win No Fee Lawyer Within The Medical Negligence Claim Time Limit
  9. Helpful Links

What Is Medical Negligence And When Could I Claim?

You may wonder what eligibility criteria must be satisfied in order to have a valid claim for medical negligence compensation. When a doctor or hospital agrees to treat you, they automatically owe you a duty of care. This means that the doctor, hospital or those responsible for your treatment must provide you with the correct standard of care. Should you suffer harm due to a breach in this duty, you might be able to make a medical negligence claim

However, you must be able to prove that:

  • You were owed a duty of care. 
  • There was a breach of this duty. 
  • You suffered harm that could have been avoided due to this breach. 

Additionally, each case must be initiated within the medical negligence claim time limit. Throughout this article, we will look at this and what exceptions may apply to the limitation period. 

If you have any questions or would like to find out if you have good grounds for a claim, please get in touch with one of our advisors. 

About The Medical Negligence Claim Time Limit

So, what is the medical negligence claim time limit in the UK? The Limitation Act 1980 states that you generally have 3 years to start your medical negligence claim, as is the case with personal injury claims. However, there are a few exceptions.

As a general rule, the 3-year time limit refers to the date that you sustained your injury. But in some cases, the injury is not detected until a date that can be days, weeks, months, or even years later than when it was thought to have been sustained. In these cases, the date that your injury is detected or diagnosed is known as the date of knowledge.

The date of knowledge can also be from the date you discovered that the harm you suffered was caused by negligence. You may be aware of your injury but the fact that it could have been avoided may come later down the line.

The date of knowledge can be used as the start of your 3-year time limit. You must, however, be able to back up this date with evidence, such as your medical records.

Is It Possible To Make A Medical Negligence Claim After 3 Years?

It may be possible to make a medical negligence claim after 3 years. Under specific circumstances, the court may grant an exception. However, it can be difficult to meet the criteria in order to claim once the three-year limitation period has expired.

Please take note that if you miss the medical negligence claims three-year time limit, typically, you can expect the case to be time-barred. Subsequently, it would be in your best interest to start a claim as soon as possible. By taking action as quickly as possible, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to build evidence for your case and find a suitable medical negligence solicitor to assist you during the process.

Contact us at any time for free advice on meeting the time limit for medical negligence claims. Our advisors can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the contact information at the top of this page.

Time Limits For Medical Negligence Affecting Children

For claimants under 18, the time limit for them to make a claim due to negligent medical care is suspended. A three-year time limit will only begin on their 18th birthday. This is because they cannot lawfully make a claim themselves until they are legally an adult.

A claim can be made before their 18th birthday, but it must be done by an appointed adult known as a litigation friend. This can be a parent or legal guardian, but also another family member, family friend, or even a legal representative like a personal injury lawyer. They must have the child’s best interests in mind.

If their medical negligence claim is successful, the litigation friend is not awarded the compensation payout. Instead, it is paid into a secured bank account. This can only be accessed by the claimant once they turn 18.

In the meantime, their parents or guardian can access the money with permission from the court. The withdrawal must also be to directly benefit the child.

Time Limits For Medical Negligence Affecting Those With Diminished Mental Capacity

For adult claimants with mental conditions that reduce their capacity for rational decision-making, the time limits for medical negligence claims can be suspended indefinitely. This means that they won’t be subject to the 3-year time window. Their claim can also be made by a third party such as a litigation friend.

Alternatively, the claimant may recover their mental capacity. If this is the case, the time limit will only remain suspended until they have recovered. If nobody had already claimed on their behalf, they would have 3 years to start a claim from the date of their recovery or date of knowledge.

Examples Of Medical Negligence

As well as being aware of the time limit for medical negligence claims, knowing what can constitute medical negligence is also useful. Below, we have compiled a few examples of medical negligence for which you could possibly claim.

It’s important to bear in mind that this is not a complete list. There are other instances of medical negligence that could lead to your health being negatively impacted.

  • Prescription errors – The dosage you receive could be too high or too low, and both could lead to illness or fatality in some extreme cases. Additionally, it’s possible that you receive completely the wrong medication, or even no medication at all when it was necessary.
  • Surgical errors – Surgical negligence can include instances such as operating on the wrong part of the body, leaving foreign objects within the patient, or even operating on the wrong patient altogether.
  • Misdiagnosis – Some conditions may present symptoms that can be interpreted in numerous ways. If misinterpreted, you could receive the wrong treatment or even no treatment at all as a result.

If you are wonder whether what you experienced would be categorised as medical negligence, get in touch with our advisors today.

Medical Negligence Claim Calculator

Compensation for successful medical negligence cases could include both general and special damages. General damages aim to compensate you for the harm you have suffered due to medical negligence. A medical negligence claim calculator may be able to help you gain a clearer idea of how much you could be owed in general damages compensation. It does this by asking you a variety of questions concerning your particular claim.

Alternatively, you could reference the table that we have created below. When creating this table, we have used the figures provided in the 16th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The JCG lists compensation brackets for various injuries, and is used by many legal professionals to help them value claims.

However, you should only use this table as a guide, as how much compensation you could receive will be affected by the factors of your specific claim.

Multiple Serious Forms of Harm And Special DamagesIf you have a valid claim for multiple serious injuries or illnesses, then you may receive a payout covering all of these as well as any related special damages, such as the cost of certain private treatments.Up to £1,000,000+
Kidney(a) Both kidneys are either lost or permanently damaged.£206,730 to £256,780
Female Reproductive System(a) Infertility that could have resulted from failing to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy - upper end of the bracket will tend to be awarded to those with significant medical complications.£140,210 to £207,260
Male Reproductive SystemTotal loss of the male reproductive organs.In excess of £187,790
Bowels(b) A complete loss of the bowel's natural function. The person may also depend on a colostomy depending on their age.Up to £183,190
Epilepsy(b) Established Petit Mal - Whether attacks can be controlled by medication, the effect on social life and the prognosis will affect how much is awarded.£66,920 to £160,360
Lung Disease(b) Lung cancer in an older person that caused significant pain and impairs the lungs function. This will impact the person's quality of life.£85,460 to £118,790
Lung Disease(c) Diseases such as emphysema that worsens the functioning of the lungs and impairs the person's breathing.£66,890 to £85,460
Digestive system(b)(i) Severe toxicosis that causes vomiting and acute pain. The person may be admitted into hospital for a few days or weeks.£46,900 to £64,070
Spleen(a) The spleen is lost and there is a risk of internal infections due to the immune system being damaged.£25,380 to £32,090

Special damages aim to compensate you for any of the financial losses you have suffered due to being harmed by medical negligence. Some of the things special damages could compensate you for include:

  • Any medical costs you’ve had to pay.
  • Loss of past and future earning if you’ve had to take time off work.
  • Care costs if you’ve required someone to care of you.

Providing evidence of these financial losses could help support your claim, e.g. receipts, payslips or invoices.

Contact our advisors today if you would like to discuss your potential medical injury claim.

Claim With A No Win No Fee Lawyer Within The Medical Negligence Claim Time Limit

If you would like to seek compensation and are within the medical negligence claim time limit in the UK, you may wish to have legal support. A No Win No Fee lawyer may support your claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This is a type of No Win No Fee arrangement.

A No Win No Fee lawyer typically won’t ask you to pay upfront for their services. They usually don’t ask you to pay for ongoing costs either. If your lawyer is successful, they will take a success fee from your award. The law limits the amount they can take. Should your lawyer not succeed, they usually won’t charge for their services.

Call our advisors for free advice, even if you aren’t sure if you are within the medical negligence claim time limit. You might be exempt from the medical negligence time limit or they could advise you on appointing a litigation friend.

In addition, our advisors can assess whether your claim might be eligible for compensation. If it seems valid, they could connect you to one of our No Win No Fee lawyers from our panel.

To discuss the medical negligence claims time limit with an advisor:

Helpful Links

We’ve included some helpful links to additional information regarding medical negligence claims, the time limit, and more.

  1. NHS Annual Resolution Report – Negligence Claims
  2. How to complain to the NHS
  3. The General Medical Council – a body that will listen to your concerns regarding unsafe practices

Below, you can find links to all of our medical negligence claims guides: