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What Are The Time Limits For Suing The NHS? – How Long Do I Have To Make A Compensation Claim Against The NHS?

By Megan Black. Last Updated 10th February 2023. Have you been the victim of medical negligence and suffered avoidable harm because of it? If so, you may already know that you could make a medical negligence claim, but did you know that there is a time limit for suing the NHS, and it could differ depending on your circumstances? This guide offers insight into the medical negligence time limit that could apply in certain circumstances and gives you information about different medical negligence claim time limits that could apply if you are claiming on behalf of a child, how your mental health could affect your time limit, and details of other factors that could affect how long you could have to claim.

Time limit for suing NHS guideHere at Legal Expert, we could offer you guidance over the phone on the appropriate medical negligence time limit in the UK for your claim, as well as helping provide you with a lawyer that could handle a clinical negligence claim on your behalf. You can reach our helpline on 0800 073 8804 if you’d like more information on this.

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A Summary Of The Time Limit For Medical Negligence Claims

You may be wondering, ‘if I am eligible to claim for NHS negligence, what is the claims time limit?’. In this guide, we examine the time limit for medical negligence claims. This is typically three years as set by the Limitation Act 1980. This guide also examines what circumstances can affect this time limit.

You may wonder what steps you could take should you have evidence that you experienced harm due to medical negligence. We look at where medical negligence could occur and what sort of medical professional might be responsible. We also explore the duty of care medical professionals owe to patients and what harm may occur if this is breached. To make a valid claim, you must be able to prove that a medical professional’s breach in their duty of care caused you to suffer harm.

If you would like answers to questions such as ‘what is involved in suing the NHS for negligence?’, get in touch with our advisors at any time.

What Does It Mean To Sue The NHS?

The NHS treats millions of patients in a range of different settings, such as GP clinics, hospitals and even dentists. All professionals working for the NHS have a duty of care to provide their patients with safe, effective healthcare services. If they fail to do so, then this could constitute negligence. If such negligence causes a person to suffer harm that could have been avoided, then this could lead to an injured party having reason to claim compensation.

Breaches Of The NHS Duty Of Care

When claiming for medical negligence, you would have to prove that the NHS professional in question breached the duty of care they had towards you. According to NHS Resolution, the actions of the practitioner should be assessed in such cases to ascertain whether their care could be considered to have fallen below accepted professional standards. The Bolam Principle is one of the accepted tests for this. It looks at whether a responsible body of clinical opinion would support the actions of the practitioner. The test doesn’t consider what could have been done differently, it considers what should have been done differently.

Why Do People Sue The NHS For Compensation?

There are several reasons why people might sue the NHS for compensation. These could include:

  • GP Negligence – Whether your GP had misdiagnosed you, given you an incorrect prescription, or failed to refer you for tests you should have had to properly diagnose a condition, if GP negligence has led to you suffering avoidable harm, you could look into suing the NHS.
  • Childbirth Negligence – If you or your child were harmed due to the negligent actions of midwives, nursing staff, doctors, or surgeons, you could be entitled to claim compensation.
  • Surgical Negligence – While there could be risks of having surgery, this does not mean you could not look into suing the NHS if your surgeon had been negligent and caused you harm.
  • Dental Negligence – Whether your dentist failed to spot the signs of oral cancer, or broke a healthy tooth while extracting another, acts of dental negligence that lead to patients suffering avoidable harm could result in claims against the NHS.
  • Hospital Negligence – Whether you were subject to insufficient monitoring in hospital that led to you suffering avoidable harm, or you acquired an infection that should have been prevented while in hospital, this could also lead to a claim for compensation.

Coronavirus Compensation Claims

It has been reported in the media that coronavirus has been contracted by patients while in hospital, leading to at least one death. If negligent medical care led to you acquiring COVID-19 (coronavirus) while in hospital, this could also lead to a claim for compensation. There should be stringent procedures in hospitals to avoid non-COVID patients being infected while they are in hospital. If standards fail and you have contracted coronavirus as a result, this could potentially lead to a claim.

Source www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/24/woman-first-uk-victim-die-coronavirus-caught-hospital-marita-edwards

Applicable Time Limits To Sue The NHS

When making a medical negligence claim, there is a time limit that you must adhere to start. Generally, the time limit for medical negligence claims is 3 years from the date medical negligence caused you harm.

However, there are certain circumstances where there are exceptions to these time limits. For example:

  • If your child was harmed due to medical negligence, they cannot make a claim until they are 18. From their 18th birthday, they will have 3 years to start a claim. Alternatively, a litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. A litigation friend is appointed by the court.
  • If someone lacks the mental capacity to make a claim for themselves, they will only have 3 years to start a claim if they regain this mental capacity. Or a litigation friend can make a claim on their behalf. In this instance, the time limit is suspended.

Do not hesitate to contact our advisors today if you are unsure whether you are within the time limit to start your medical negligence claim.

What Is Causation In A Claim Against The NHS?

In addition to considering whether a breach of the duty of care has occurred, those pursuing a case against the NHS would have to prove that the harm that the injured party suffered would not, on the balance of probabilities, have occurred had the practitioner not been negligent.

In some cases, some conditions could be difficult to diagnose and treat, regardless of the standard of care you’d experienced. The outcome of your medical care may have been similar even if negligence had not occurred. If this is the case, then you may not be eligible to claim compensation. If you would like us to assess whether you could be entitled to claim, we could do so free of charge, and without obligation, for you to use our services. Simply call our team on the number at the top of this page.

Who Could My NHS Negligence Claim Be Made Against?

As well as wanting to know the medical negligence claim limitation period for your claim, you may also wish to know who you could claim compensation against for NHS negligence.

While the NHS Litigation Authority, now called NHS Resolution, could handle many claims against the NHS, you could in some cases, claim against the medical professional. This could include:

  • GPs
  • Hospital doctors
  • Dentists
  • Cosmetic Surgeons

Some compensation schemes have been specially set up to compensate victims, such as the Vaccine Damage Unit for harm suffered due to a vaccination, or the MacFarlane Trust for those who have contracted HIV from haemophilia treatment.

If you are unsure as to who your claim would be against, and whether this would affect the medical negligence time limit applicable to your claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.

How Could A Solicitor Help You Claim Against The NHS?

As well as wanting to know the time limit for suing the NHS that could apply to your claim, you may want to know is it hard to sue the NHS? Every case is different and while some may be fairly straightforward, it could be beneficial for you to utilise the services of a medical malpractice lawyer for your claim. Medical negligence claims can be complex, as you would have to prove that but for the negligence you’d suffered, you would not have been harmed in the manner that you were. An experienced medical negligence solicitor would have the ability to build a strong case on your behalf and could advise you on any offers of compensation you receive to help you determine whether it could be a good idea to take the offer or whether you could fight for more.

If you are considering claiming compensation but are unsure whether you could be within the medical negligence time limit, or you have questions about getting started with a claim, we could help. Here at Legal Expert, we’d be glad to offer you free, no-obligation advice on eligibility for compensation. We could also offer to connect you with a clinical negligence lawyer working on a No Win, No Fee basis too, something we’ll explain below.

When you call our team, we’ll listen carefully to what has happened to you and offer you advice that is tailored to your circumstances. We’ll answer all of your questions, explaining any legal terms along the way so you know exactly where you stand. If we feel that you could have a valid claim for compensation, we could offer to provide you with a lawyer that could help you with your claim.

We have helped many people in a variety of situations claim compensation for injuries they’ve incurred due to someone else’s negligence. Many of our clients have praised our company, due to our commitment to providing a service that puts the injured party first. We’d be happy to help you too.

Examples Of Medical Negligence Payouts UK

Following a successful claim for medical negligence, your compensation settlement should include general damages. General damages compensates you for the harm you have suffered due to a medical professional breaching their duty of care.

Below, we have provided some bracketed examples of medical negligence payouts in the UK for general damages. These figures have been taken from the most recent edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), updated in April 2022. This is a document used by many legal experts to help them value claims. This is because the JCG provides compensation brackets for different injuries, both mental and physical. The figures are also based on previous successful claims.

However, the compensation you receive could differ from the amounts listed below. This is because the various factors of your claim could affect your compensation settlement. Therefore, you should only use this table as a guide.

Injury Type Notes Amount
Kidney Where there is loss or serious permanent damage to both kidneys. £169,400 to £210,400
Kidney Despite one kidney being lost, the other suffers no damage. £30,770 to £44,880
Female Reproductive System A disease or injury that results in infertility, potentially due to the failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. £114,900 to £170,280
Bowels Depending on the person’s age, they may depend on a colostomy due to the complete loss of the bowels natural function. Up to £150,110
Male Reproductive System A loss of sexual function with complete impotence for a young person. Various factors such as the psychological reaction, will affect how much is awarded. £114,900 to £148,320
Lung Disease Lung cancer in an older person that impairs the lungs function and causes severe pain. £70,030 to £97,330
Chest injuries Where injury to the lungs and chest leads to disabilities that continue. £31,310 to £54,830
Digestive System (b)(i) Severe toxicosis that will require hospital admission for a few days or weeks with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and a fever. £38,430 to £52,500
Spleen The spleen has been lost which also poses a risk of internal infection due to the immune system being damaged. £20,800 to £26,290
Hernia Pain continues after repair and there is a restriction on physical activity. £14,900 to £24,170

Do not hesitate to get in contact with our advisors today if you have any questions about starting a medical negligence claim. Additionally, they could offer you free legal advice regarding your potential claim. Our friendly team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help.

Special Damages Victims Of NHS Negligence Could Claim

As well as claiming for general damages, you could also receive special damages. This head of claim is designed to compensate you for losses and costs incurred directly because of your injuries. They might include, but are not limited to:

  • Income losses – If your injuries have meant you’ve needed time off work, you may not receive as much income as you usually would. Loss of earnings could be included as special damages within your claim. Should your injuries be so serious that they prevent you from returning to work at all, it could be that future loss of earnings are included within your claim too.
  • Care costs – Some injuries may mean you are unable to take care of usual tasks such as washing, dressing and cleaning. If you have needed care at home, these costs could also be included as special damages.
  • Medical expenses – Have you paid for prescription medicines or other medical costs such as counselling or physiotherapy due to your injuries? If you have, these costs could be compensated for as special damages.
  • Travel costs – Journeys to the hospital or doctor’s surgery, or your lawyer’s office that have arisen because of your injuries, could also be included.

If you have incurred any expenses/losses due to your injuries, you must be able to prove them to claim compensation for them. It is therefore very important that you keep any evidence safe so that you could provide it to your solicitor for inclusion within your claim.

Can I Sue The NHS After 3 Years?

Whilst the medical negligence claim time limit is typically 3 years from the date you were injured, there are certain circumstances where you can claim later than this. Suing a hospital or another healthcare facility can sometimes even take places years after the general time limit is expired. However, it’s important to be aware of the scenarios for which this is possible.

For instance, there is the date of knowledge to consider. You may only be made aware of your injuries at a date later than they were sustained. For example, if you are made aware of your symptoms 1 month after your treatment, you would need to start your claim within 3 years of this date, rather than the date of the negligent treatment itself.

Additionally, the time limit can be suspended for claims made for those under 18 and for those whose mental capacity is reduced. For children, the time limit begins on their 18th birthday. For those with a reduced mental capacity, it remains suspended until (or if) they are deemed capable of making their own claim. Until then, a litigation friend can be appointed to make a claim on behalf of either group of claimants.

If you’d like to find out if you could still be eligible to claim, get in touch with our advisors today.

Suing A Hospital – Help From No Win No Fee Lawyers

When suing a hospital, you may wish to hire legal representation. A claim made under a No Win No Fee agreement would generally mean that you would not have to pay your solicitor for their services upfront or while the claim is ongoing. Our solicitors can offer a specific type of No Win No Fee contract known as a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Under a CFA, you typically don’t pay for their services if your claim fails. However, if your claim does succeed, you will pay a success fee from your compensation. This fee is legally capped as per the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013.

You could benefit from the services our solicitor’s offer under this type of arrangement provided your claim is valid and has a chance of success. Our solicitors can help you with different aspects of your claim, including ensuring you start your claim within the relevant medical negligence claims time limit. This is generally three years from the date of the incident or the date you connected the harm you sustained with medical negligence.

For more information on the process of suing a hospital, including how a solicitor can help, please get in touch using the details provided above.

Start Your Claim Against The NHS

If you want to begin a claim but are not sure how to get started, or you have questions about your eligibility or the time limit for suing the NHS that applies to your claim, we are here to help. You can reach our expert advisors on 0800 073 8804, by emailing info@legalexpert.co.uk, using the Live Chat feature, or completing the contact form, which you can find here. Our friendly, knowledgeable advisors are waiting to help, support and advise you, so why not get in touch today to find out if you could be eligible for compensation?

Essential References

Complain About The NHS – Here, you can find out how to complain about NHS services.

NHS Resolution Statistics – These statistics relate to medical negligence claims against the NHS in 2017/18.

Historical Negligence Claims – Here you can find information relating to an indemnity scheme for historical claims.

Hospital Negligence Claims – On this page, you can find guidance relating to claiming for hospital negligence.

Birth Injury Claims – This guide covers birth injury claims, and explains the eligibility criteria for claiming.

Misdiagnosis – If you are considering making a claim for misdiagnosis, this guide could offer some useful information.

Other claims guides

Written by Jeffries

Edited by Billing

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      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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