Have you or someone you know been the victim of medical negligence? For medical negligence claims, the time limit is an important thing of which to be aware. Whilst most cases have to abide by the same rules, there are certain scenarios where the time limit can fluctuate. It’s important to know what actually constitutes medical negligence too. We’ll be covering the topic over the course of this article.
We have done our best to make all the terminology as easy to understand as possible. However, if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. No issue is too small for us to address.
Our advisors are standing by to offer free legal advice and guidance. The more we know about your claim, the more accurately we’ll be able to help you. So, we may have some questions for you to help us supply you with a more detailed valuation. We may even be able to connect you with a solicitor from our panel if you’re deemed to have a potentially valid claim.
For those of you who are wondering “is there a time limit for medical negligence claims?” read on for more information. Below, you’ll find how to get in touch with us.
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- What Is Negligent Medical Care?
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- General Medical Negligence Claims Time Limits
- Time Limits For Medical Negligence Affecting Children
- Time Limits For Medical Negligence Affecting Those With Diminished Mental Capacity
- Medical Professionals’ Duty Of Care
- Causation In Medical Negligence
- When Could You Claim For Medical Negligence?
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Medical negligence can be a tricky subject to understand. A healthcare professional can do everything in their power to treat a patient, and the patient’s health could still be negatively affected. This doesn’t necessarily mean that negligence has occurred.
An example of negligent medical care would be if your doctor was to treat you with substandard care, in a way that was below what is expected of them and you suffered harm that you would not have otherwise suffered. Medical negligence could happen for all types of reasons and although a similar procedure is followed in personal injury claims these types of cases are multidimensional.
For any medical negligence case to be valid you must be able to determine that the treating doctor acted negligently. This negligent behaviour is what caused the medical negligence to occur and importantly but unfortunately this resulted in you suffering a lot more than you needed to
You may be wondering what time limits you have to abide by when making a medical negligence claim. These limits are very important because if you allow them to expire then you could find yourself unable to make a claim at all.
Therefore, you could go without the compensation you deserve due to your injuries. The sections below list what these time limits are, and how they can vary in certain instances.
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.
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.
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.
All medical professionals have a certain standard of care they have to meet. These standards are known collectively as a duty of care. If the duty of care towards their patients is breached, this is when cases of medical negligence could arise.
In both private practice and in the NHS, medical negligence cases can be subjected to something called the Bolam Test. This is when the issue of what could have been done, is replaced with whether something should have been done. Essentially, the treatment that is administered could have been valid.
The Bolam Test takes into account whether other healthcare professionals may also have taken the same actions if they were in the place of the doctor being accused of negligent medical care. If enough impartial medical professionals agree that the actions were a valid method of attempting to deal with the patient’s condition, this could decrease the likelihood of successful medical negligence claims.
As mentioned earlier in this article, for medical negligence claims, the time limit can begin on the date you were first made aware of your injuries. However, you must be able to prove that the actions you are interpreting as negligence can be directly linked to injuries you are attempting to claim for.
If the injuries you are claiming for were likely to have occurred regardless of the treatment you received, then it becomes less likely you would win any medical negligence cases.
In this section, we’ll list some more specific examples regarding when you could make medical negligence claims. For the general time limit restrictions, please refer to the section earlier in this article.
These negligence cases consist of instances where a doctor misdiagnosed a patient and their health was directly affected as a result, despite clear symptoms indicating another health condition. For example, a patient may be given the medication for a condition they don’t have. Alternatively, the patient could be told they have nothing wrong with them, when in fact they have an evident medical condition that then goes untreated and gets worse as a result.
A doctor can abide by all duties of care of their profession but still provide a misdiagnosis which in turn may not mean the doctor has been negligent. In order to prove negligent misdiagnosis, you must first prove the doctor was negligent in providing a diagnosis.
There are certain occurrences that shouldn’t ever take place in a medical setting. They are known collectively as never events. Many, but not all, of these never events involve surgery. Some of these surgical never events include:
- Surgery on the wrong person
- Wrong-site surgery (an operation is carried out on the wrong part of the body)
- Foreign objects left inside the patient
These events can cause new injuries or exacerbate pre-existing ones. Either way, if the patient has suffered due to a surgical never event, then a claim could be made.
Dental practitioners also have a duty of care to their patients as other medical professionals do. It’s still possible for them to make mistakes like removing the wrong tooth or administering the wrong dosage of anaesthesia for certain procedures. Just like medical negligence claims, the time limit regulations remain the same for dental negligence claims.
Whilst it’s important to know about the medical negligence claim time limit in the UK, it’s also important to know about how the compensation is calculated. There are often two main figures to consider. These are known as general damages and special damages.
First, we’ll address general damages. This figure is calculated using a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). These guidelines are updated regularly and were last reviewed in 2019. The JCG consists of an extensive list of injuries and what they could be worth in compensation. The amount can be affected by things like the severity of the injury, as well as the recovery time.
Below, we’ve included a table that includes some possible payouts for various injuries. These figures are taken from the latest edition of the JCG.
|Female Reproductive System||Infertility that resulting from a failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy - upper end of the bracket will tend to be awarded to those with significant medical complications||£114,900 to £170,280|
|Female Reproductive System||Infertility caused by malpractice where the claimant already has children and there is no medical complication - the higher amounts tend to be awarded to those with significant psychological damage||£17,960 to £36,740|
|Female Reproductive System||Infertility where the injured person would not have had children anyway (due to age, for example)||£6,610 to £18,680|
|Female Reproductive System||Unwanted pregnancy caused by a failed sterilisation procedure - no serious psychological impact||In the region of £10,200|
|Female Reproductive System||Delay in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy but with no effect to fertility - upper end of bracket depends on pain and/or anxiety caused||£3,390 to £20,430|
|Digestive system||Severe damage||£44,590 to £69,730|
|Bowels||Severe abdominal injury causing impairment of function||£44,590 to £69,730|
|Illness||Varying degrees of pain, cramps and diarrhoea caused by medication - continuing for days or weeks||£910 to £3,950|
There’s also the matter of special damages. Special damages are calculated to reimburse the claimant for any financial loss or outgoings caused by their injury. A good example of this is if the injured person has experienced a loss of earnings. They may have had to miss time at work due to their injuries. As a result, they may not have earned the wages they usually do.
These missed wages can form a part of their special damages payment. Other things that can be included are medical expenses that aren’t covered by the NHS, and loss of enjoyment of things you had paid for prior to the injury. For example, you could recover the cost of a lost holiday deposit.
It’s vital to maintain detailed records of these outgoings and losses. Receipts and payslips are good examples of this. Without proof tying your losses to your injury, you could find it very difficult to be reimbursed.
For more information on special damages, like what else can be included in the payment, call to speak to our advisors today.
A No Win No Fee arrangement is when a personal injury solicitor works with their client without expecting to be paid their fee unless the claim is successful. If the claim is unsuccessful, the client will not be expected to pay their lawyer’s legal costs. Following the conclusion of a winning claim, their lawyer is paid via a small, capped percentage taken from the compensation amount.
The lawyers on our panel work with 100% of their clients on a No Win No Fee basis. If this method of financing your legal representation sounds like it suits you, then get in touch with our advisors today. Whilst it is legally permitted to represent yourself during your claim, we’d recommend using the services of a solicitor.
Our advisors have helped many people decipher whether or not they have valid medical negligence claims. The time limit has also been cleared up for them after speaking to us.
Medical Negligence Assist work with medical negligence solicitors that can help and support you throughout your case. Always on hand to provide whatever information you need and continue to update you regularly on the progress of your case.
Some people may wait too long to find out about their valid medical negligence claims, and their time limit consequently expires. Don’t let that happen to you. Get in touch with us today.
- You can call us on 0800 652 3087
- Use the live chat window in the bottom right corner
- Fill out our claim online form to see if you could have a valid claim
In the NHS alone, there were 15,550 claims of medical negligence that were settled in 2019/20. As you can see by the graph below, the vast majority (71.5%) were resolved without any court proceedings. Only 27.9% of claims were resolved via court proceedings.
Just 0.6% of these cases ended up going to trial. This stat shows how unlikely it is for cases to go to trial.
We’ve included some helpful links to additional information regarding medical negligence claims, the time limit, and more.
- NHS Annual Resolution Report – Negligence Claims
- How to complain to the NHS
- 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:
- A guide to medical negligence claims
- Punctured lung injuries negligence claims
- Dry needling gone wrong claims
- MRSA claims
- Acupuncture gone wrong – negligence claims
- Eye injury medical negligence
- Neurological medical negligence
- Respiratory illness clinical negligence claims
- Nerve injury caused by medical negligence – how to claim
- Spina Bifida negligence claims
- Needlestick injury claims
- How much could my medical negligence claim be worth?
- Retained placenta negligence claims
- Private healthcare medical negligence
- Facelift surgery negligence claims
- Coolsculpting and fat freezing negligence claims
- Liposuction negligence claims
- Orthopaedic negligence
- Clinical negligence in a nursing home
- How to make a claim for midwife negligence
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and medical negligence
- Medical negligence compensation calculator
- Lost medical records claims
- Claims for negligent cool sculpting and fat freezing
- Failure to prevent suicide – can you claim?
- Ophthalmic negligence claims
- Defective medical devices claims
- Amputation negligence
- Anaesthetic negligence claims
- A&E medical negligence
- Hip dysplasia claims
Here, we’ve included the answers to some of the more common questions we’re asked on the topic of medical negligence claims, and the time limit.
Can I claim medical negligence after 10 years?
Yes, it is possible. It would all depend on whether you have been aware that your injuries that could have been avoided happened because a medical professional was negligent.
How long do you have to make a claim against the NHS?
In general, there is a 3-year time limit. However, as mentioned earlier in this article, this time limit varies under certain circumstances. The 3-year time limit is for starting the claim not how long you have to make a claim.
Can I make a medical negligence claim after receiving private healthcare?
Yes. In these instances, you would need to address your claim to the owner or doctor that treated you at the hospital where you were treated.
Guide by Dan
Edited by Ruth