What Is The Time Limit For A Medical Negligence Claim?

By Max Morris. Last Updated 20th July 2022. This guide will look at the time limit for medical negligence claims. Before reading this guide, you may have questions like “can I sue my doctor for medical negligence?”.  If you are looking for answers and advice, then this guide could help you find out the information you need. 

Time limit for medical negligence

Time limit for medical negligence guide

We will cover what medical negligence is, the time limits that apply for medical negligence claims and how medical negligence solicitors can help you figure out if negligence occurred. In addition to this, we will look at how much you could receive in a compensation claim, as well as how settlements are calculated. 

When you seek medical care, whether it’s from an NHS facility or private healthcare provider, you’re entitled to a minimum standard of care. Providing this minimum standard of care and not causing unnecessary harm is a medical professional’s duty of care. 

If this standard of care is not met, this is an example of medical negligence. If medical negligence has caused you harm, then you could be entitled to claim compensation.  

The solicitors on our panel can work under a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that you pay nothing upfront for their services. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any solicitor’s fees. If you win your case, then a small, legally-capped percentage will be deducted from your compensation by your solicitor.

Please contact us through any of the below methods to speak with an advisor: 

Select A Section

  1. Why Is There A Time Limit For Medical Negligence Claims?
  2. What Is The Time Limit For Making A Medical Negligence Claim
  3. What Other Time Limits Apply To Medical Negligence Claims
  4. Medical Negligence Time Limit – Are There Any Exceptions to This?
  5. Can You Check If The Time Limit Has Expired?
  6. Medical Negligence Claims Calculator
  7. Talk To A Medical Negligence Lawyer
  8. Find Out More About Medical Negligence Claims 

Why Is There A Time Limit For Medical Negligence Claims? 

There is a 3 year limitation period for medical negligence claims. Limitations periods in compensation claims exist to protect defendants. If claims are made a long time after the fact, then the evidence might not exist for the defendant to disprove the claim. 

For example, sometimes hospitals only have to hold medical notes for a few years. These notes are vital in defending against claims. It also is very important to take witness statements as near to the event that took place as possible so that they are as accurate as possible.

What Is The Time Limit For Making A Medical Negligence Claim

Medical negligence, as we have already covered, is when the standard of care you receive in a healthcare facility falls below an acceptable standard. In order to claim, you need to show that the medical negligence caused you harm that you would not have experienced if you’d received the right level of care. 

However, you cannot claim for any harm that you experience in a medical setting. Sometimes, a healthcare professional will cause you harm but still be adhering to the standards of their profession. 

For example, you may be involved in an accident where your hand is crushed and cannot be repaired. As a result, the medical staff may make a decision to amputate your hand. 

While this procedure will cause you harm, this harm is necessary for treating your condition. Therefore, you would be unable to claim.

For more information on what time limit for a medical negligence claim could apply in your circumstances, speak with a member of our team today.

What Other Time Limits Apply To Medical Negligence Claims 

The time limit for starting medical negligence claims is generally three years. This can be three years from the date of the negligence or the date of knowledge. The latter is the date that you realised that negligence led to your symptoms.

For example, you may have been misdiagnosed with cancer. As a result, you undergo chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumour. 

However, at a later date, it’s discovered that you don’t actually have cancer. This meant that the chemotherapy and surgery you underwent was unnecessary harm. 

Alternatively, you might be prescribed the wrong medication by your doctor. Prolonged use of this makes you ill; this means that the date of knowledge would be when you realised that your doctor’s negligence has led to your symptoms. It would not run from the date you were first prescribed the medication.

If this misdiagnosis occurred as a result of negligence, the time limit would not start on the date that you received the incorrect diagnosis. Instead, it would run from the date that you became aware that your symptoms resulted from negligence. 

However,  all cases are different and sometimes, exceptions might apply to these time limits. Please read on for more information on when the time limit for medical negligence may vary.

Medical Negligence Time Limit – Are There Any Exceptions to This?

As we’ve previously stated, one exception regarding the time limit for medical negligence is if you discover that negligence led to your injuries at a later date. However, other exceptions can apply in particular circumstances.

One example is if an adult lacks the mental capacity to claim. They can use a litigation friend to claim on their behalf. If they want to make a claim while still lacking this capacity, the time limit is frozen. It would only begin again if they regained their mental capacity. The three year time limit would start from that day.

Furthermore, children who are injured by medical negligence are unable to claim for themselves. If they want to claim whilst they are still a child, they would also need the services of a litigation friend. However, if they want to claim for themselves, they have three years from when they turn eighteen to begin claims proceedings. This is providing that a claim hasn’t already been made for the negligence.

Additionally, it’s important to know how the time limit works in relation to fatal accidents. In general, you would have three years to claim if medical negligence led to a loved one’s death. However, if it only becomes apparent at a later date that negligence caused the death, you would generally have a three year time limit from when you became aware of this to begin a claim.

To learn more about the medical negligence claim time limit in the UK, please continue reading or, if you prefer, contact us for legal advice that is completely free using the details above.

Can You Check If The Time Limit Has Expired?

You can contact us anytime to discuss your situation and check if you are still within the time limit for starting a medical negligence claim. You may also be wondering how long a medical negligence claim could take; we can provide you with guidance on this too.

It is important that compensation claims are made within the appropriate time limit. If this time limit passes, then the claim could become statute-barred. This means that compensation can no longer be pursued through a claim. 

You may be unsure whether or not you’re within the time limit for claiming. This may be the case particularly if any of the exceptional circumstances that we have already mentioned apply in your case. 

If you’re unsure, a solicitor can help. They can listen to you about the details of your case and let you know what time limit applies to your circumstances and whether this has passed. 

If you get in touch with a member of our team, not only will you be able to receive free legal advice, but you could be connected with a solicitor from our panel provided that your claim is valid. 

A solicitor from our panel will then take time to listen to your issues and gather all the information relevant to building your claim. You can explain the suffering you have been through and let them help you fight for the compensation owed to you, provided you’re within the time limit for a medical negligence claim. 

Medical Negligence Claims Calculator

For your solicitor to be able to calculate the amount of compensation you should receive there are many factors to take into account. Some of the factors that will be considered include the severity of your injury and how much it’s impacted your quality of life. 

When you make a claim, you could receive two different “heads” of claim. These are general and special damages. General damages compensate you for your injuries and special damages compensate you for any financial losses that your injuries cause you to incur. 

Below, we have included a table of injuries and their relevant compensation brackets. As well as physical injuries, you could also be compensated for psychological damage caused by medical negligence. 

These figures are taken from the Judicial College. This is a publication used to help value claims.

Injury Addition detailsAmount
Very Severe Brain DamageWhere the injured person will have little or no meaningful interaction with their environment £282,010 to £403,990
Reproductive System: FemaleInfertility that happens because of a failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy £114,900 to
£170,280


Reproductive System: FemaleWhere there has been a failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy but there has been no impact on fertility. £3,390 to £20,430


Reproductive System: FemaleSterilisation that has not been successful leading to unwanted pregnancy; however, no depression or serious psychological impact will result In the region of
£10,200
KidneysSerious and permanent damage to or loss of both kidneys.£169,400 to
£210,400
Kidneys Loss of kidney where the other has not been damaged. £30,770 to
£44,880


Lung disease - (a)Where a young person is seriously disabled and the illness will probably progress leading to premature death £100,670 to £135,920

Lung disease - (b)Lung cancer that causes severe pain and impaired function and quality of life. £70,030 to £97,330

Lung disease - (c)A disease that results in worsening of lung function and impaired breathing. £54,830 to £70,030
Spleen - (a)Loss of spleen where internal infection is a continuing risk £20,800 to £26,290


In order to see how much your claim is worth, you may also be invited to a medical assessment. Here, an independent expert will create a report based on your injuries; this will be used to value your claim.

Special damages is the part of your claim that compensates you for the financial impact of your injuries. For example, you could claim a loss of earnings if your symptoms cause you to take time off work or for the cost of private medical treatment if this was not available on the NHS. 

In order to claim special damages, it’s a good idea to have evidence to show the losses you have incurred. For example, this could include invoices or payslips.

For more information on what could be included in a claim, or to find out whether you’re within the time limit for medical negligence compensation.

Talk To A Medical Negligence Lawyer 

The solicitors on our panel can offer you a No Win No Fee agreement. , This is a contract that you have with your legal team to state that if your case isn’t successful, you won’t have to pay your solicitor’s fees.  

If your claim is successful, a success fee will be deducted from your compensation. This is legally capped to ensure that you aren’t overcharged. 

If the time limit for a medical negligence claim passes, your claim could be statute-barred. For this reason, we recommend acting sooner rather than later. Call today to get free legal advice from one of our advisors. You could also be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel. 

You can find our contact details below: 

Find Out More About Medical Negligence Claims

Below, we have included some internal and external links that you may find useful:

This page includes NHS Key Statistics 

The NHS Annual Report outlines statistics relating to the action taken against the NHS. 

The General Medical Council outlines the duties of a doctor.

Find out whether you need to work with medical negligence solicitors near you.

This guide explains the claims process for a child being starved for oxygen at birth

Our guide on claiming for medical negligence leading to sepsis.

Thank you for reading our guide explaining the time limit for medical negligence claims.

Article by AA

Publisher ET