Medical Negligence Claims UK Time Limit: How Long To Claim Compensation

Is there a time limit to claim compensation for clinical negligence in the UK?

In the UK – you have three years from the date of injury or date of knowledge of clinical negligence to make a claim.

Generally speaking – victims of clinical negligence are unaware that there has been negligence or that an injury has been suffered until another medical expert diagnosis a problem. This can be many years after the original negligence occurs.

In short – there is no time limit to claim compensation save for three years from the date of knowledge of injury of negligence.

Click medical negligence to see the article I have written setting out the medical negligence claims procedure from start to finish.

24 Responses to “Medical Negligence Claims UK Time Limit: How Long To Claim Compensation”

  1. peter clayton says:

    Hi I had an operation in 1987 on my lower back, and now I am experiencing severe back problems caused by spinal stenosis, cause by the scar tissue around the area of operation, as the original site of the operation took over six months to heal as there was an infection – is there any chance of claiming for it?

  2. Hello Peter

    In principle there would be a chance to claim compensation if it can be shown that the infection was caused by the negligence of the hospital, but as the operation was in 1987 it would seem that any claim against the NHS trust would be time barred as I presume you were aware shortly after the operation that an infection had taken place.

    I am happy however to speak to you in person to explore the date you might be construed to have knowledge of the clinical negligence and to this end please feel you can call me on 0161 8346776 to discuss when you were diagnosed with spinal stenosis and when you were made aware that an infection could have ultimately caused it.

  3. S Card says:

    I had an operation in 2001 to have some of my trapped disk removed, during that operation the long tweezers that were used to remove section of disk while they were being cut away, broke and the tip of the tweezer embedded its self inside the disk, i was kept under for and extra hour and a half, while they tried to retrive the tip, they eventually had to give up. I now have a section of stainless steel measuring 16mm x 3mm embedded inside my disk. Where do i stand in making a claim for medical negligence ? it is a constant worry when doing anything manual, is it safe in there, will it move one day ?


    S Card

  4. S Card

    Thank you for the information you have supplied concerning the medical error that occured during your operation.

    I believe you have a claim for clinical negligence so long as your date of knowledge of injury was in the last three years.

    Please click clinical negligence claim to complete my online form with more details, which will allow me to better assess your claim and I will give you a call to discuss further.


    Kevin Bolton Solicitor
    0161 8346776

  5. Caroline Cameron says:

    Are there any circumstances at all in which the 3 year rule: knowledge of a problem to making a claim can be waived? I am trying to help my mother. She seems to have a very good case except that 5 years not 3 have passed.
    Would be grateful if you could reply asap as she is struggling with finances being recently widowed. Thank you

  6. Elaine

    The court has a general discretion to extend the time period for making a claim in the UK. An application would have to be made and there would have to be good grounds for the delay and no prejudice to the parties’ by allowing a claim to proceed.

    When you are considering a medical negligence claim, as I presume is the case for your mother, you might find that the three years has not in fact expired. It might be that your mother did not have knowledge that she was injured and that the injury could have come from medical error until there was some further medical intervention which highlighted it.

    The best approach, if you suspect you have suffered medical negligence and are worried about the time period, is to speak to a specialist clinical negligence solicitor as soon as possible to assess your chances of making a claim or call me on the number shown next to my photo at the top of the page to speak to me in person free of charge.


    Kevin Bolton Solicitor

  7. paula edmondson says:

    I had a hip replacement in July 2007. After 2 weeks, I was aware of a problem. I went to the hospital and saw a registrar.
    He told me there was no problem. However, 4 weeks later, a routine check up revealed the replacement had failed. I had a revision 2 WEEKS LATER. Since then, my leg is considerably shorter, causing problems now with my back, knees through my inability to use my leg properly.
    Is it too late to make a claim, and do I have grounds for a claim?
    I am badly affected by this, and am struggling to keep working. Thank you.

  8. Paula

    There are generally three years from the date of injury or date of knowledge of injury to commence a claim at court – the court has a discretion to extend this time period.

    There are several exceptions, including a child (someone under the age of 18 years) at the time of the negligence has until the 21st birthday to commence a claim at court.

    I think the prime question as to whether you are in time to claim for medical negligence depends on when you knew or reasonably believed an error had occurred causing you injury. It is arguable to say that it is not when you realised that the replacement had failed, but when you realised that one leg was considerably shorter than the other. It might therefore be the case that you are within the 3 year period.

    If you have not already done so – you should put a formal letter of complaint to the NHS trust. To find out who to write to you should call the the hospital and ask about their complaints procedure. You will then be provided with a contact name and address to put your letter to. In your letter you should set out in numbered points what you feel the problems are and the errors you feel the hospital has made.

    I also recommend you click medical negligence claims to arrange a free call back from me in person or alternatively contact another clinical negligence solicitor to carefully review your claim to see if there is still a possibility of a claim. You will find only a detailed conversation will a specialist solicitor will suffice.

  9. Concerned Mum says:

    My son when aged 6 fractured his arm two years ago which was not diagnosed at the initial visit to A&E. We were informed three weeks later that the x-ray had been checked and there was a fracture, but because three weeks had passed the fracture had set in the wrong place and we found out that they were unable to reset the arm properly due to the location of the fracture.

    For a number of months my son could not move his arm properly i.e. touch the back of his head and had to endure a few painfull and pointless physiotherapy appointments and missed out on a lot of school time due to various appointments (getting re-xrayed and being checked by various consultants). My son is now eight and he can now touch the back of his head and is no longer in pain. We are currently speaking to our doctor about getting my sons arm re-xrayed just to check how his arm is because at his final appointment at the hospital they said there was nothing else they could do for him and hopefully he wouldn’t have any problems in the future.

    I did initially send a letter of complaint to the hospital and received a response saying that the doctor was indeed wrong and did not diagnose the fracture and they would ensure that staff were informed and would be given guidance. We have held of making a claim as we were uncertain how it would affect my son as he grew up. Would the three year claim still apply to a child of this age and if so do you think we would have a right to claim for this?

  10. As your son was a minor (under the age of 18 years) at the time the negligence occurred – he has until his 21st birthday to commence a claim at court before it is too late. That said – the sooner a clinical negligence is started on his behalf the better chances of success he will have.

    As your son is a minor – you or another parent must make the claim on his behalf. You will be known as his litigation friend – providing instructions on his behalf although the claim is still that of your son.

    Any compensation settlement must be authorised by a court and that sum retained in the court’s fund office (gaining interest) until you son reaches the age of 18 years, when he is considered an adult and as such is free to withdraw the compensation monies and use it as he sees fit.

    You have taken the correct steps in lodging a letter of complaint with the hospital and it seems from their response that the hospital is accepting an error occurred so liability should not be difficult to prove.

    If you would like to proceed with a claim on your son’s behalf either call me direct on 0161 8346776 or click medical negligence compensation and either complete my online form or request a free call back from me in person to discuss your son’s claim further.

  11. Janina Massey says:

    We lost our daughter in July 2009 from what we believe to be clinical negligence, I know there is a three years limit but would this be the case as she was a baby? Any help or advice would be of great help, I just want answers and for the hospital to admit it’s failings
    Thank you

  12. Collette says:

    9 years ago I had a baby when I went into labour I was seen to be very very poorly the midwifes knew there was something badly wrong at the time they asked my husband what he thought was wrong I was in a very delirious poorly state and they still let me deliver my baby knowing there was something wrong with me I had my baby I was very very poorly the hospital did not take up on this and let me go home the same day that night I collapsed my husband phoned for an a doctor who immediately got an ambulance said your wife needs immediate attention they got me there and for some time could not find out what was wrong with me giving me a blood transfusion and an operation for a blood clot in my uturious I was very poorly in hospital for over 2 weeks I never bonded with my last child and this nightmare will stay with me forever something that should of been beautiful knowing after this one I would never have any more because of my age . I blamed stepping hill hospital for this from the start but my husband was that grateful to them saving my life that he dismissed my feelings on the matter. They only save something that they did not notice a nightmare that will be with me forever is there anything I can do about this many years later?

  13. Regretfully as this happened over three years ago – you are likely to be statute barred. There are generally three years from date of injury or date of knowledge of injury to make a clinical negligence claim. The test for knowledge of injury is that which it would be reasonable to persume that injury might have been caused by medical negligence. In this instance – it is likely that the clock is ticking from the night you collapsed.

    Exceptions to this time period include: those under the age of 18 years or those without mental capacity. In such cases – you would have until your 21st birthday in the first instance or until the date of mental capacity in the second instance. Clearly neither of these descriptions apply to your situation.

    Even if you were within the three year time period – a patient should have put a patient letter of complaint to the NHS Trust within a good time (typically one year) of the alleged negligence to afford the hospital the opportunity to respond to the problems your believe occurred.

    If this had been done in time – there is still a whole process which must be followed to prove clinical negligence. To see the article I have written explaining how to prove clinical negligence click medical negligence claim.

  14. Yes – there is a three year time limit, as the claim is your claim for the loss of your baby daughter.

    The time period would differ – if your baby was injured due to clinical negligence and survived. In such a circumstance, in theory, the baby would have until its 21st birthday to issue a claim at court.

    To see a page I have written describing all the issues concerning a fatality as a result of negligence – click fatal accident claim.

  15. Craig says:

    Hi, My father received spinal surgery over 10 years ago. Although he is now disabled and suffers severe chronic pain, we had no reason to suspect there may be a claim of medical negligence until now, as the operating surgeon has been suspended after a high profile malpractice tribunal and has admitted to several, more recent counts of negligence. Do we have a case, and if so can you advise what our next steps should be? Thanks.

  16. There are three years from date of injury or knowledge of injury as a result of clinical negligence to commence a claim at court, but there must be injury.

    You have not provided too many details about what happened to your father during the spinal surgery – was he in some way injured or does his diability relate to the spinal operation?

    If something went wrong during the operation – it might be reasonable to presumen that, even in the absence of the surgeon’s malpractice tribunal, you father had knowledge that negligence could have occurred.

    If in the other instance – there was no way to know that negligence had occurred until now, it would be proper for your father to go through the NHS patients’ complaints procedure to give the medical authorities the opportunity of reviewing your father’s patient records and responding to any concerns you have.

    I think however the best approach is for us to speak in person as I will have various questions to ask you, so please feel free to call me at my office on 0161 8346776. Alternatively, you are welcome to complete my online form for an online assessment or to arrange a free call back – simply click clinical negligence claims lawyer legal help.

  17. Tracy says:

    I under went a breast operation in 2001 under the care if the NHS, they however sent me home a few days after the initial operation without any antibiotics and I contracted a bad infection. Went I went back to the hospital for a check up they realised that I was very ill and that the infection was very bad. They admitted me that day and had to perform the operation again to clear the infection. This was an awful time for me and has definitely had an impact on my self confidence and is something I have flashbacks too. Would I have any type of claim since it was so long ago?

  18. Regretfully – it seems to me that your time period has likely expired some time ago. You have three years from date of injury or knowledge of injury to commence a claim at court other than if the NHS Trust had granted an extension of time for you to claim.

    Your date of knowledge is at the latest (from your description) a few days after the operation when you developed the bad infection and went back to hospital.

    An exception to the time period is when you were under the age of 18 years when the clinical error occurred – you would then have until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

  19. Emma Bourne says:

    When I was 11 I went to my family gp for 18 months because I was walking on a limp and he passed it as basically nothing wrong with me. So my dad had enough and took me to a&e on a thursday night where I had an x-ray done and turned out I had a slipped capital femoral epiphysis. I was then told I needed emergency surgery the next morning, where they put a screw in my hip and the had the screw removed when I was 14. I did after that have problems with my left hip which was diagnosed correctly by the surgeon who’s care I was under and needed further surgery when I was 16 and 17 so my mind was occupied by the pain from my left hip and the surgery I was having so I didn’t think much about the whole situation with my right hip and how it when undiagnosed by my doctor. How ever I’m now 18 and have pain back in my right hip and have been to see an orthopaedic surgeon where he confirmed my femoral head is out of shape and gave me an injection for the pain that didn’t work. The only other option is major surgery like hip replacing which he doesn’t want to do at my age. I’ve had to stop going to the gym and doing many physical activities which I’m not happy with as I enjoy fitness. Now that I’m older and with the pain I’m getting now I have realised that it is due to my doctor ignoring my symptoms for 18 months when I was younger

  20. Emma

    Whether your GP can be considered negligent depends on several factors, which must be explored – but the fact a slipped capital femoral epiphysis can cause hip and knee pain for children (most commonly) between the age of 7 and 11 years and that lack of treatment can lead to joint pain in later life will give weight to your claim.

    As the potential medical negligence occurred when you were a child, under the age of 18 years – you have until your 21st birthday to commence a claim at court before it is too late. As such please call me at my office on 0161 8346776 to discuss the possibility of commencing a claim or click misdiagnosis clinical negligence claim to complete my online form.

    I hope to hear from you in the near future.


    Kevin Bolton Solicitor

  21. Mrs Wills says:

    My daughter was born in 2004 and had breathing difficulties so was taken to special care and put under a heat lamp. The midwives forgot about her and she ended up suffering from heat burns to her bottom. This affected her for a number of years and she hated warm water touching her bottom so had to be bathed standing up for a few years and wouldn’t go swimming until a couple of years ago. I didn’t put in a complaint at the time because I was just relieved she was okay, but recently have started thinking about how this affected her and that the hospital should be held accountable. Am I able to put in a claim?

  22. Mrs Willis

    As your daughter was a minor (under the age of 18 years) at the time of the alleged clinical negligence in principle she has until her 21st birthday to commence a claim at court.

    In practice however – the sooner a claim is commenced the better.

    As she is still under the age of 18 years she cannot commence a claim in her own right.

    You can act as her litigation friend to make her claim. Any settlement for her burn due to medical negligence would have to be authorised by the court in a minor settlement hearing and any settlement monies would be retained by the court in the courts fund office in Glasgow. This money attracts is pooled with other Claimants and attracts a hire interest rate, which is cumulated and accessible by your daughter when she reaches the age of 18 years.

    To discuss your daughter’s claim with me in person free of charge or to commence an online claim either call me on my direct dial number of 01618346776 or complete my online form by clicking burn clinical negligence claim.

  23. Mrs Gardner says:

    Hi I lost my husband to prostate cancer 37 months ago. I have only recently learned about the treatments and monitoring that should have been afforded him, and I now fully believe this contributed to his painful and speedy demise. He was diagnosed metastatic and therefore terminal just before Christmas 2009. We only met his consultant once at first diagnosis and our fears about his lifespan were dismissed and we were told he would still be with us for years with appropriate hormone therapy. His symptoms gradually but quickly worsened but the only monitoring or change in treatment was an increase in pain relief. In early July 2010 he suffered a complete spinal collapse due to cancer eating his spine requiring emergency surgery. There was still no change in his hormone treatment regardless of the deterioration. Through recent research I now believe he should have been 1) offered a bilateral orchidectomy on diagnosis, 2) had his PSA level monitored more regularly than 3 monthly, 3) had his hormone treatments regularly monitored and adjusted, 4) had his testosterone levels monitored, 5)been offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy as his PSA redoubling time increased. I have been left with 2 girls (aged 7 and 15 now). Can I make a claim?

  24. Mrs Gardner

    I have read the details you have supplied and believe a discussion is necessary to assess your claim and that of your children.

    As you might be aware – there are generally three years from date of clinical negligence or reasonable knowledge of injury from medical negligence to make a claim.
    We would need to look carefully at when you were presumed to have knowledge. In addition we would need to consider if your children have a dependency claim (the limitation period is often far longer than 3 years for children to commence a claim).

    Please could you call me on 0161 8346776 to discuss or click fatal clinical negligence claim to complete my online form a specialist clinical negligence solicitor free call back.

    I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


    Kevin Bolton Solicitor

Leave a Reply