I have heard that there is something called the medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland. Can you explain what it is and how a claim for hospital negligence might be affected by it?
The medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland is the time limit a plaintiff has in which to make a claim for personal injury compensation against a medical practitioner, a private clinic or the Health Service Executive in the event that the plaintiff has suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to medical negligence.
Established in the Courts and Civil Liabilities Act 2004, the medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland encourages plaintiffs to initiate their claims for personal injury compensation while evidence of negligence is at its most recent while protecting those in the medical profession from the constant fear of retrospective litigation.
In most cases, two years is ample time to compile a claim for medical negligence, as it is important to understand that the two-year time limit does not begin until a potential plaintiff has been diagnosed with an injury attributable to medical negligence – rather than starting on the day that the medical negligence took place.
For example; if you were to undergo a medical procedure at the end of which a swab was left inside of you, which six months later was responsible for causing an infection, it would be the date on which the infection was diagnosed and attributed to the presence of the swab from which the medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland would commence.
The day on which the diagnosis is made is known as the ‘Date of Knowledge’ and, if you are intending to pursue a claim for hospital negligence, it would be the ‘Date of Knowledge’ which is the date you need to be aware of to ensure your claim is prepared in a suitable period of time and is not at risk of being time-barred.
There are certain exclusions to the medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland – such as if a child or person of diminished cognitive ability wanted to make a claim for hospital negligence – and, with the agreement of both parties, it may be able to stop the clock by means of a ‘Standstill Agreement’.
As a general guide, if you intend to make a claim for hospital negligence against the Health Service Executive, you should also make a formal complaint within one year of the ‘Date of Knowledge’. This time limit is not strictly adhered to, but it may damage the likelihood of your claim´s success if you delay speaking with a solicitor to discuss the nature of the injury you sustained and why you believe your injury was caused by the negligence of the hospital or of one of its staff.
It is therefore recommended that you contact a solicitor at the earliest practical opportunity to establish your eligibility to make a claim for hospital negligence and to ensure that your claim is not disqualified by the medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland.