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Medical Negligence Solicitors

Is There A Time Limit On Medical Negligence Claims?

As with many compensation claims, medical negligence claims have a time limit. Learn more about how time limitations may affect your claim.


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What is the time limit for medical negligence claims?

If you have suffered as a result of a medical mistake, you might be considering making a medical negligence claim. These claims can be complex and often require a lot of information in order to be properly assessed, so it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

As with many compensation claims, medical negligence claims have a time limit. This time limit is usually three years from when the incident occurred or when you first became aware that medical negligence occurred, or knowledge a significant injury was caused. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

At Been Let Down, we have a team of specialist solicitors who are well versed in dealing with these types of cases, and we want to help you while we still can.

Get in touch with us for advice on whether you have a valid claim by making an enquiry online or by speaking to us directly.

Are there exceptions to time limits on medical negligence claims?

As per the Limitation Act 1980, there is a specific time period for putting forward your claim. For adults who have capacity, the time limit for medical negligence claims is three years from the date the negligence occurred or the date you became aware of it, or knowledge that a significant injury was caused. That is because symptoms or related illnesses can sometimes take time to present themselves.


Children under the age of 18 have three years from the date of their 18th birthday to bring forward a claim, and so the limitation period expires on their 21st birthday.

However, if a parent has made a claim on behalf of a child before they turn 18, the child cannot make a claim for the same case of medical negligence once they are an adult.

Additionally, if an individual suffered medical negligence as a child but is then deemed to lack the mental capacity to make a claim as an adult, there is no stated time limit for medical negligence claims so long as their lack of capacity has been continuous from aged 18 onwards. Once a person has capacity the clock starts to run.

Victims who lack mental capacity

A person is a “protected party” if they lack the mental capacity to litigate. This usually means they have a diagnosed impairment or condition which means they cannot understand the legal process and the claim. We usually obtain independent medical expert reports to confirm this. If a person has continuously lacked capacity then the limitation period has not commenced running.

However, if the capacity has fluctuated and at some point they have had or regained capacity, then the three year time limit clock starts to run. Even if the person loses the capacity to litigate again the clock continues to run.

This is why it is very important that you seek legal advice on capacity and our team of specialist solicitors can help.


If the victim of medical negligence has died, the family of the deceased has a time limit of three years from the date of death to bring forward a claim on behalf of the victim’s estate, so long as the limitation has not already expired. If the negligence is undetected until the victim dies, the three-year time limit for medical negligence claims applies from the date of death or discovery, whichever is later.

Should a claimant pass away during the process of making a claim, the personal representative (usually a family member) will have three years from the date of death to continue with their claim, as it may need to be reviewed or restarted.

It is very important in these cases that the family obtain Letters of Administration or Grant of Probate so that there is someone with legal standing to make the claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

How will I know if the time limit has expired for my medical negligence claim?

Generally speaking, you will already know the date on which your medical negligence occurred or when you became aware of it. If three years have passed, your claim will likely be “time barred”.

It is important to make your medical negligence claim as soon as you can, to prevent it from becoming time-barred.

However, it is always worth obtaining legal advice to check exactly when your time limit ended as there are some limited circumstances in which a court may allow you to bring your claim outside of the usual deadline if you make an application called a Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 Application. Our dedicated team of lawyers can tell you more about this if this is applicable to you.

Can I claim medical negligence after the three-year time limit?

Unless your medical negligence case meets the exception criteria, your claim will normally be restricted to the three-year time limit. Any claims brought after this period could be barred by the court so it’s essential to contact medical negligence solicitors as soon as you can.

You may still be able to pursue your claim after the time limit if the victim of the medical negligence is under the age of 18, passed away or lacks mental capacity. We recommend getting in touch with us so that we can discuss the details of your case and determine if an exception may apply.

What can I do if I am approaching the time limit to make my medical negligence claim?

Medical negligence cases can be complex and, the faster you start the process, the more likely it is that you will have all the necessary evidence to achieve a quick, easy and successful claim.

At Been Let Down, our team will never pursue medical negligence claims that are likely to be dismissed or barred from court due to the time limit expiring. Once you contact us, our experienced medical negligence specialists will be able to advise you on deadlines and the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Why is there a time limit on medical negligence claims?

You may be wondering why there should be a time limit for medical negligence claims. Given their serious nature and potential long-term effects, many claimants don’t understand why such a deadline is in place.

Due to legal requirements, there are several valid reasons that the medical negligence claims time limit has been set at three years. They include:

  • Witnesses may forget what happened over time. Our memory of events can fade and medical negligence claims require a huge amount of accurate detail for their success.
  • Medical notes may be lost or destroyed. Hospitals are only required to hold records for a certain number of years. The sooner a medical negligence claim can be made, the easier it should be to obtain these documents for your claim.

The earlier you make your claim, the more likely it is that you will be able to get all the evidence you need for a successful outcome.

When should I make my medical negligence claim?

You should make your claim as close to the date of negligence or your date of knowledge as possible. The medical negligence claims time limit refers to the time you have to issue a formal claim form at Court, so it is important that you contact a solicitor as soon as possible. When you contact us, our team of expert solicitors will assess whether you still have enough time to make your claim.

How long does compensation take after medical negligence?

If you win your case and a settlement is agreed with the other party, you should not have to wait too long to receive your compensation. Sometimes, that can happen in as little as a few days but, typically, it will take somewhere between two and four weeks, depending on the amount of compensation you’re receiving. This can be paid straight into your bank account to speed up the process.

Our team of specialist solicitors also request interim payments (a payment of money before the whole case is settled) on your behalf whenever appropriate and possible to do so.

Why choose Been Let Down for your medical negligence claim?

Making a claim can be stressful and upsetting but our team of solicitors has a wealth of expertise on our side to help you understand the time limits attached to medical negligence claims. We can advise you whether your claim is still within the time limit and if the different legal exceptions apply.

At Been Let Down we:

Unsure about your medical negligence claim and its time limit? Contact us today

If you think you have suffered medical negligence or want to find out if your claim is still within the time limit, get in touch with us as soon as possible. You can make an online enquiry or request a call back at a time that is convenient for you.

Alternatively, give us a call on 0800 234 3234. Our team of friendly and knowledgeable legal experts are waiting to help.

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