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Time Limits

It can often be complicated to work out how long you have to make a medical negligence claim. However, the good thing is that Hattons Solicitors can help. Below is a general guide to working out how long you have to make a medical negligence claim.


If you are an adult who is mentally capable of looking after their own affairs the following should apply:

Court proceedings must be issued within three years of the date of the negligent act or the date that the Claimant became aware of the medical negligence. This is sometimes referred to as the date of knowledge.

However this could be different in the case of misdiagnosis of cancer. It could be months or years before you become aware of a problem with your diagnosis. In these cases often the date of knowledge can be a lot later that when the actual misdiagnosis of cancer occurred. The time limit of three years would not start to run until you gained this knowledge.


In the case of medical negligence and a child the following applies:

The time limit for a child to bring a medical negligence claim does not expire until the child’s 21st birthday. The reason for this is so that the child has the option to pursue a claim in their own right as an adult.

In the case of an adult or child without mental capacity the following applies:

If an adult does not have the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, for example due to brain damage, then there is no time limit on them making a medical negligence claim. This also applies to children, who when they are older, would also not be able to manage their own affairs.

Fatal Claims

In the case of fatal medical negligence claims brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate the following applies:

The time limit on bringing a medical negligence claim after the death of a family member is three years from the date of their death, if the deceased dies within the primary limitation period. If the deceased’s death happens outside of the 3 year primary limitation period then the claim will, in all likelihood be statute barred.

What happens if these time limits have expired?

You should always be advised to seek legal advice to see whether the time limit on your medical negligence claim has expired. There are a few limited exceptions where the court can exercise discretion and allow you to bring your claim outside of the time limit specified.

If you have any questions about bringing a medical negligence claim, please call our legal team on 0800 298 9690 or alternatively fill in the Claim Now Form and we will call you back.


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