Can I claim for medical negligence after 10 years?

Making a medical negligence claim can be a complex and time consuming process. Couple this with the mental, physical and often financial strain of a lasting injury following medical malpractice, and it is highly recommended that claimants begin pursuing a medical negligence claim or seeking legal advice as soon as possible.

However, as with most other legal proceedings, there is a time limitation on when you can bring forward your claim. Known as the statute of limitations, this means that you only have a certain window in which you can seek legal advice and issue a claim form. The idea behind having a limitation period is to make sure the defendant gets a fair hearing. If you’re pursuing a claim from the far past, testimony can become cloudy, or evidence might be more difficult to find.

In this blog, we’ll explain the time limitations on medical negligence claims as well as explain the situations in which you can claim for medical negligence after 10 years.

What is the standard limitation on medical negligence claims?

For most medical negligence cases, claims need to be brought forward within 3 years of the negligence occurring, you became aware of your injury, or you discovered that malpractice had occurred. For example, if you discovered that your doctor had missed signs of cancer in your routine screenings, leading the cancer to progress much further, your 3-year window would begin from where you discovered that error. Symptoms do not always present immediately following the malpractice, and so this prevents the limitation period from running out while you weren’t aware there was a problem.

In theory, this does mean that if you weren’t aware of the injury caused by medical negligence for 10 years, you could claim after 10 years had passed. However, in most cases this is very unlikely. Despite this, there are some exceptions to the standard limitation period that would enable you to pursue a medical negligence claim after 10 years.

Exceptions to the 3 year rule for claiming medical negligence

There are 3 specific exceptions for the 3 year limitation on medical negligence claims. The exceptions are centered around whether or not the victim is able to handle their own affairs. Additionally, there are special cases where you might be able to bring forward a claim that happened more than 3 years ago. However, the rules around this can be quite complicated and you might be able to get special permission from the court to proceed. Our specialist medical negligence solicitors can review your case to see if we believe this would be possible.

Injury to a child

The first exception to the 3 year limitation period on medical negligence claims is when the claimant is a child under the age of 18. In this case, the 3 year limitation period would begin from the claimant’s 18th birthday. The reason for this is to allow an individual to pursue compensation as an adult, on their own behalf. This would mean that if you had suffered medical malpractice when you were 8 years old or younger, you would be able to make a claim after 10 years.

However, it’s important to note that if an adult claims on behalf of a child before they turn 18, the child would be unable to make a claim for the same case of medical negligence when they become a legal adult. This is because the matter would already have been resolved and compensated for.

Mental disability

If the claimant has a mental disability or has been diagnosed with a medical impairment, then there is no limitation on when a claim can be brought forward. This is particularly important if the malpractice they suffered caused the disability. We should note that there is a specific legal definition of mental disability, and this decision will be made by the solicitor in conjunction with medical experts.

Should the claimant be fortunate enough to recover from their disability, the 3 year limitation period will begin from the date of recovery. In the meantime, however, there is no time limit on when you can bring forward a medical negligence claim. This means that you could claim for medical negligence after 10 years.

Death

The final exception to the 3 year limit would be if the victim of medical malpractice passed away during the initial time limit. So, if the victim passed away 2 years after the inciting incident, the family of the deceased would have another 3 years to bring forward a claim on behalf of the victim. On top of this, if the medical negligence is discovered after the victim’s death, then the window to submit a claim would begin at the point of discovery. Much like bringing forward a standard medical negligence claim, the limitation period begins from whenever the death happened or whenever it was discovered that the negligence caused death. This means that, if you found out that medical malpractice caused your family member’s death 10 years later, you would be able to pursue compensation 10 years after the fact.

Why should I start a medical negligence claim early?

In most cases, the limitations period means that you won’t be able to claim for medical negligence after 10 years. More importantly, it’s recommended that you start the process of submitting a claim for medical negligence as soon as possible. Medical malpractice suits can be complicated, which means that it can take a while for the case to come to a resolution.

During this time, you may face a loss of earnings from not being able to work, physical distress from your injury, or still be going through ongoing treatment. Starting your medical negligence claim early means that you’ll receive your compensation sooner and so will have the resources to fund any specialist treatment, make any modifications to your home, and recuperate lost income.

It’s also important to note that solicitors may not be able to take on your case if there is less than a year left on the limitation period. In order for your case to succeed, your solicitor will need to prove that your healthcare provider administered substandard care, and that this has directly caused injury. In order to do this, your solicitor will need to evaluate your medical records as well as instruct medical experts to provide their specialist opinion on whether there was causation between the treatment and your injury. The more complicated your case, the longer this can take; so if you only have a few months until the time limit expires, your solicitor might not have enough time to prove your case and reach a resolution.

What can I do if I am approaching the time limit to make my medical negligence claim?

If you’re approaching the end of your limitation period, we would advise that you reach out to an expert medical malpractice solicitor as soon as you can. They will be able to help you evaluate your case to see if reaching a conclusion is possible within the remaining time limit. As we’ve mentioned, there are special exceptions to the 3-year window, so it is important to check your options with a specialist and get their advice on how best to proceed.

Medical negligence claims with OH Parsons

At OH Parsons, we have decades of experience in complicated medical negligence cases. If you think you’re a victim of medical negligence and want to understand whether or not you can make a claim, get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors today. They will be able to advise you on how long you have in your limitation window to submit a claim, and if the evidence you present is sufficient grounds for a claim. We can help with GP negligence claims, birth injury claims, fatal claims and more.

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