Medical Negligence Statute of Limitations

What is the medical negligence statute of limitations?

The medical negligence statute of limitations is a legal time limit imposed on the victims — or families of the victims in the case of fatalities — in which a claim for personal injury compensation for medical negligence can be filed in the UK. The time limit for initiating a claim is three years, which commences from the ‘date of knowledge’ of the act of negligence or when it is known that an act of negligence led to a personal injury being sustained.

Medical Negligence Statute of LimitationsThe medical negligence statute of limitations also applies to children who have been injured due to the action – or inaction – of a medical professional, although the time scale for claiming compensation is applied differently. Since it is not possible for a legal minor to instruct a solicitor or file a claim personally until they become a legal adult, the time limit for claiming compensation for medical negligence commences from the date of the child’s eighteenth birthday.

Claims for medical negligence for children can therefore be commenced up to the date of the child´s twenty-first birthday, although claims for medical negligence for children can be filed as soon as medical negligence is discovered if a ‘litigation friend’ acts on behalf of the child.

The statute of limitations for medical negligence is also applied differently for individuals who are suffering from reduced mental capacity either due to the act of negligence itself, or external factors. In this case, the three year time limit would only commence at such time when the individual regained adequate mental capacity. In cases where there is permanent mental impairment, the statute of limitations for medical negligence would essentially never commence, meaning a claim could be filed at any time by a litigation friend on behalf of the victim.

When a litigation friend — usually, but not necessarily, a parent or legal guardian of the victim — wishes to initiate a claim for compensation for medical negligence on behalf of a victim, the courts must grant authorisation to do so. The courts must be satisfied there is no conflict of interest and the litigation friend is capable and suitable to pursue the claim, including accepting all financial liability for doing so.

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, it is important that you seek legal advice from an experienced independent personal injury solicitor about making a claim. This type of personal injury claim can only be decided based on medical opinion; therefore a panel of medical experts must be consulted to establish and prove that the actions of the defendant constituted professional negligence. A personal injury solicitor would make the necessary arrangements in this regard and would provide assistance with the preparation and pursuit of the claim.