I am a little confused about the Statute of Limitations for medical negligence in Ireland. Can you tell me how long I have to claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer?
The Statute of Limitations for medical negligence in Ireland is 24 months from the date an injury in known to have been sustained and, while there are a few exceptions, the way that the time limit for claiming personal injury compensation is applied is explained below.
The purpose of the Statute of Limitations is twofold, benefiting both the plaintiff and the respondent. The plaintiff is required to initiate the claim soon after a negligent act has caused an injury, which ensures that the claim is commenced while evidence of negligence is strongest. The respondent benefits from not being made to live under the constant fear of litigation. Once the time limit has elapsed, no personal injury claims will be possible and a case will be time barred.
Although the Irish Statute of Limitations for medical negligence restricts the initiation of compensation claims for medical negligence in Ireland, there is no time limit placed on the resolution of a claim. Personal injury claims for medical negligence can take many months or even years to be successfully resolved.
A claim is initiated with the issuing of a ‘letter of claim’ to the negligent third party. Provided the letter of claim is sent within the two year time limit enforced by the Irish Statute of Limitations for medical negligence it will be allowed to proceed, although 21 days must also be allowed for the negligent party to acknowledge receipt of the letter of claim.
Two years may appear to be ample time to start a claim, but you should bear in mind that a case must be investigated before the letter of claim is sent and evidence of negligence will need to be collected. A case must also be reviewed by a medical expert prior to the letter of claim being sent, and this ‘investigative’ stage of the claim can take some time to complete. It would therefore be unwise to delay seeking legal advice about recovering compensation.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Negligence in Ireland and the Date of Knowledge
The medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland commences from the ‘Date of Knowledge’ when an injury resulting from medical negligence is not immediately apparent. This applies to claims for the misdiagnosis of a disease, a failure to diagnose a medical condition.
The ‘Date of Knowledge’ is the date when a doctor diagnoses an injury or makes the correct diagnosis of a medical condition resulting from medical negligence. In your case, you will have 24 months to initiate your claim from the date that your cancer was correctly diagnosed.
Children and the Statute of Limitations for Medical Negligence in Ireland
When compensation claims for medical negligence in Ireland need to be made for legal minors, the medical negligence Statute of Limitations in Ireland is applied differently. Since a legal minor cannot take legal action until the age of consent is reached, the window for claiming does not commence until the child’s eighteenth birthday. A claim for personal injury compensation involving medical negligence must therefore be made before the plaintiff’s twentieth birthday.
Claims for personal injury compensation can be initiated before a child reaches the age of consent – and it is often beneficial to do so – but only if a parent or legal guardian (or other responsible adult) pursues the case on behalf of the child as a ‘Next Friend’.
If you would like a more specific explanation of how the Irish Statute of Limitations for medical negligence applies in your personal situation, please contact a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.