LEGAL EAGLE: Offering advice for victims of possible medical negligence
I believe I was a victim of medical negligence last year. It has been playing on my mind for a while now although I haven’t made a complaint or got any legal advice yet.
I have read somewhere online that because of the coronavirus situation it is not possible to bring a medical negligence claim at the moment anyway. If this is true when will I be able to do something about it?
Firstly it is very important to understand that there are strict deadlines in starting a clinical negligence claim or making a complaint:
1. Starting a claim
In most cases you have three years to start court proceedings from the date of the treatment
complained about, or the time when you realised (or ought to have realised) that you had a significant injury that could be due to your treatment. This time limit does not apply to children who have until their 21 st birthday to issue legal proceedings.
2. Making a complaint
There are complaint procedures for NHS treatment and private care. There are usually strict time limits to make a complaint. For example a complaint to the NHS should usually be made within 12 months from the date of the treatment or knowledge that something may have gone wrong. You do not have to make a complaint before bringing a claim but it may be useful as it can provide an explanation about what happened and an apology. It can also be helpful when considering a compensation claim. If you choose to make a complaint you should not wait for it to be finished before seeking legal advice. The three year time limit mentioned above does not change even if an investigation into a complaint is being carried out.
The second vital point here is that the coronavirus pandemic has not changed any of the above.
Due to the pandemic there has been a huge impact on appointments, treatments and operations in hospitals.
Delays can reduce the treatment options available, impact on someone’s ability to live a normal or pain free life or may even reduce their life expectancy. Current delays may not be down to negligence but until circumstances are looked at you cannot be sure.
Even though we continue to live in difficult times it is important to know that there are still options available to you if you think you have been the victim of medical negligence. If this applies to you it is crucial that you make a complaint and/or seek legal advice as soon as possible given the time limits explained above.
Unfortunately it sounds like you have read many of the rumours that are circulating online. Whilst the internet can provide lots of useful information, seeking advice from a qualified solicitor is the best thing you can do.
Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist medical negligence solicitors. To speak to a solicitor please call 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.