Statute of Limitations for Medical Negligence Cases

There is a new provision in the Legal Services Bill 2015, (which has yet to be enacted) that will give injured parties up to three years to make a medical negligence claim, the current time period being two years. As medical cases are inherently complicated, the date from which the time runs is not always clear and may have to be determined by the courts.

Extension of time to bring a medical negligence claim

The three year period will run from the date on which the cause of action accrues or from the date of knowledge (if later) of the injured person. This is a very significant change as it will give injured parties considerably more time to decide whether they wish to pursue a medical negligence claim.

Medical Negligence is a very particular area of law and the change in the time prescribed is needed due to the particular circumstances of medical negligence and the needs of the injured party. It has been acknowledged that due to the complexity of medical negligence cases, the two year time limit afforded to personal injury cases is not sufficient time within which to issue proceedings.

Medical Injury

It is not always clear to an injured party that their injury is attributable to negligence, and the injured party may only become aware of the fact after much time has passed, or as seen recently in the Cervical Check debacle, when it is made known that there was a misdiagnosis of a disease or illness, or failure to diagnose a medical condition at all.

In order to establish an injured party’s claim, it will be necessary to get at least one expert report outlining the claimants issues, and at MW Keller & Son we have a wealth of knowledge on experts who we can engage.

Date of knowledge

In certain cases, a claimant may not know they have a case until they are in receipt if their own medical records. In other cases, it may be widely publicised in the media that certain issues, that on reasonable reflection would apply to the claimant, and so the three years could be argued to start from then. For example, if  a claimant is concerned that her cervical smear test was misread and therefore misdiagnosed, it could be argued that her date of knowledge of the medical negligence was this week, given all of the media attention, rather than from when she receives her medical records confirming the position.

At MW Keller & Son, we appreciate that talking  to your solicitor may not be the most pressing matter for you, but if you consider that your medical injury may be the cause of medical negligence, then please contact Margaret Fortune to discuss your issues in a sympathetic and professional way.

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