The clinical negligence process is quite lengthy and though timescales of individual claims differ, there are time limitations for when a case should be submitted in the UK.
Current legislation states you have to start your claim within three years from when the harm occurred. During this time, you have to prove that there was a breach in the legal duty of care owed to you by a healthcare professional, and this resulted in the injury being caused. It’s important to note, the three year time limit includes the process of issuing a claim form at court and not just highlighting the case to a solicitor.
Even though three years can seem like a long time to make a claim, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later to give enough time for vital information, such as medical notes, to be gathered. It is also useful for witnesses, as the incident is more likely to be clearer in their minds and they can give a more accurate description of what happened.
There are, however, some important exceptions to this rule where the three year limitation may not necessarily apply. This includes claims for children. If a child is injured as a result of clinical negligence, the three year time limit only applies when they reach 18. For example, if a child is injured before their 18th birthday, they therefore have up to the eve of their 21st birthday to issue a clinical negligence claim.
There are also special rules for people who suffer from a mental disability. The three year rule does not usually apply to someone who has a mental disability and it means a person may submit a case for clinical negligence at any time. However, if mental capacity returns or the disability ends, the three year period would begin from that point. It’s important to point out that these rules may not always apply to each case so it’s always worth consulting with an expert medical negligence lawyer to advise you about this.
With some cases, it’s not always the case that medical negligence is identified at the time of the injury. You may not have realised you had a case until sometime later. If this happens and can be proven, an injured patient can have three years to bring a claim, not from when the incident occurred, but from when they realised the injury sustained was a result of negligence.
These rules are again complex and can differ in certain situations. While the court will take into account all the circumstances of the case including reasons for the delay in submitting the claim, it’s important to get in touch with expert solicitors like Fletchers as soon as you realise negligence has occurred, to determine the best course of action and get the right specialist advice from the start.
As experts in medical negligence, we’ll be able to let you know if you have a case and whether you’re eligible to make a claim. We will make sure it’s an easy process and be on hand to guide you every step of the way.