If you are planning on making a medical negligence claim, there are certain time limits you must stick to.
Making a Medical Negligence Claim
The most important limit is to start your claim within three years of discovering the negligence. This doesn’t necessarily mean within three years of the negligence occurring, as you may not always be immediately aware that something is wrong. For instance, if you are given a faulty implant, it might be some years before a problem becomes apparent.
This means you have three years from the point that you find out something went wrong in which you or your solicitor makes the initial court application. It is very important to get legal advice as soon as possible if you do intend to claim – as the claims process is often be long and complicated. In addition, it is often easier if your medical negligence solicitor can start collecting the evidence in support of your claim early on, while the details of what happened are still fresh in your mind
Time Limits – Exceptions
There are a couple of exceptions to this three year rule. One is if an act of negligence is committed against a child. In this case, the three year limit would not apply until the child reaches the age of eighteen- so children essentially have until they are twenty one to start a claim.
There is also an exception made for people with mental disabilities. For them, the three year rule does not apply until they get over their disability. If they are unable to recover from the disability, the limit will never come into force.
Time Limits – the Court timetable
As well as the time limits you must keep when starting your claim, there are also time limits to observe after your claim has been issued at court. Your solicitor will be able to provide you with more information about this, but the limits can be expected to include:
• Once the defendant (the person who committed the negligent act- although usually the insurance company) has been served with notice of your claim, they have 28 days to serve their defence if the case is being heard in the High Court. If it is being heard in a County Court, they will have 14 days.
• Prior to a claim going to trial, there will be a meeting of lawyers in which evidence is considered. Following this meeting, your solicitor will have 28 days in which to submit written questions to the experts for the defence, asking them to clarify their evidence.
• Following the issuing of proceedings, your trial must take place within 15 months.
• If the judge at your trial reserves judgement due to the complexity of the case [i.e. the judge says that they won’t immediately tell you what they have decided as they feel they should put their decision in writing], they must provide you with a written judgement within 3 months.
Depending on your individual circumstances, a medical negligence claim can take several years to progress from your initial meeting with your solicitor to the verdict delivered by the judge. Three or four years is sadly not unusual. If you choose to appeal a decision, it could take even longer, so this is something you definitely need to be aware of and prepared for before you start the claims process.
Don’t delay – Contact one of our Medical Negligence Solicitors today
If you are thinking of making a medical negligence claim, don’t delay – or you may lose your right to do so entirely.
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