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Find out if you’re too late – don’t assume!

14th May 2013

One of the most important aspects of dealing with a clinical negligence claim, and an area that is often not fully considered, is whether a claim has been brought in time.

The Limitation Act sets out time limits in which a claim for negligence by a medical practitioner can be brought.  We are often contacted by clients who have been incorrectly advised by non-expert solicitors that they are too late to make a claim.

The general rule is that Court Proceedings must be started within three years, if the injured person is 18 years or older and has full mental capacity, of an injury being caused.

If the injured person does not have full mental capacity (either due to the alleged medical accident or a pre-existing problem) or is under 18 then the three year period starts once they reach the age of 18 or mental incapacity is removed.  If an injury was caused to a child by something that went wrong during birth, then the three year period starts to run from the child’s 18th birthday.

If a loved one has died due to a medical procedure then the three year period starts from the date of death or when the death was linked to the medical accident.  This may allow a claim to be brought by the Estate of the deceased for the benefit of the family.

The starting point for determining when the three year period runs from is generally the date of the medical procedure being complained of and that is often when some Non-expert Clinical Negligence solicitors can give incorrect advice.

The three year period, in fact, starts to run from when you knew or could reasonably have been expected to know that you had been injured due to negligence and this period of time can vary significantly from case to case and needs to be very carefully considered by an expert.

In some cases this date can be immediately apparent: for example the failure to spot a fracture on an x-ray. In other cases, such as the failure to diagnose cancer or to carry out the correct procedures to investigate a possible cancer case, then the three year period may not start for some years and it is here, after a thorough review of the medical records, that a expert Clinical Negligence solicitor may be able to argue a claim has not been brought too late.

The best advice is to seek expert legal advice as quickly as possible if you are concerned about a possible medical accident.  An expert solicitor may be able to successfully argue for a later date and bring a claim on your behalf, allowing you to receive the compensation you should receive due the negligence of someone else.

Jonathan Dees is an expert Clinical Negligence and Catastrophic Personal Injury solicitor with many years’ experience of supporting injured clients and providing exceptional customer service.