Many people are reluctant to pursue a claim as they feel it has been too long since the negligence occurred.
The short and simple answer is you have three years. However, we all know the law is not simple (or short) so we need to understand when your time period starts.
The time period in which you must make your claim for clinical negligence is known as the limitation period, which is set out under The Limitation Act 1980. Under section 11 of the Act, claims for clinical negligence must be brought within three years from the date of the incident or from the date you first became aware, or ought to have became aware, of the negligence (if later). Any attempt to bring a claim once the limitation deadline has expired will, save in the most exceptional circumstances, be time barred by statute.
So for example, if Mr X underwent surgery on 16th March 2010 and negligence occurred, however he found about it on 28th November 2017 (7 years later) the three year time period in which to bring a claim in would run from 28th November 2017. This is because the date of knowledge is later than the date of negligence.
Therefore, the limitation date for Mr X is likely to expire on 27th November 2017.
There are some exceptions to the above rule, which include:
- Children – the three year time period would not start until the child reaches the age of 18. This means the time limit would expire on the eve of the child’s 21st However, please note that a parent is still able to make a claim on behalf of their child until the child’s 18th birthday, after which the young adult would run his own claim.
- Deceased – the three year time period runs from the date of death.
- Mental capacity – if a Claimant lacks mental capacity in accordance with the Mental Health Act 1983, the time period does not commence until the person regains capacity. This means if a Claimant never regains capacity, the three year period may never begin.
Please note, the three year time period is for issuing a claim, not to speak to a Solicitor! Therefore, if you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch as we would be more than happy to help you!