How long does it take to claim compensation for medical procedure errors? The Injuries Board web site says seven months, but I think my case is more complicated than most.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Before answering your question about how long it may take to claim compensation for medical procedure errors, it should be pointed out that the Injuries Board do not accept applications for the assessment of medical negligence claims due to the claim´s often complex nature.

Furthermore, the ‘seven months’ quoted on the injuriesboard.ie web site is slightly misleading, as this is the average length of time it takes the Injuries Board to assess a claim once the ‘respondent’ has given their consent for an assessment to be made (effectively admitted their liability).

As the respondent is allowed 90 days to reply to the Injuries Board´s ‘Formal Notice’, and there is likely to be some passage of time between receipt of a plaintiff´s application for assessment and the actual ‘Formal Notice’ being dispatched, the average length of time it takes the Injuries Board to process an assessment of injury compensation is closer to a year.

Returning to your question about the length of time it takes to ‘claim’ compensation for medical procedure errors, it is assumed that you would like to know how long it takes to resolve a claim for errors made in a medical procedure, as the claim can be made any time within two years of the ‘Date of Knowledge’ that an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition has occurred due to medical negligence.

The claims process is that you would first sit down with a solicitor (or speak with one on the phone) to discuss the nature of your injury and how you believed it occurred. Your solicitor would then write to all the people who could have been involved in your treatment – from medical practitioners to nursing support staff to technicians and administrators – to determine how and where in the chain of events the error in your medical procedure occurred.

Depending on the complexity of your claim for errors made in a medical procedure, this process alone could take a considerable period of time, after which the notes would have to be reviewed by an independent medical expert to establish that an avoidable injury has occurred and that you have a claim for compensation for medical procedure errors which is worth your while to pursue.

If you choose to go ahead with a claim for errors made in a medical procedure, your solicitor will send a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the hospital at which you underwent your medical procedure, who will probably conduct their own investigation before acknowledging liability for the injury you sustained. Again, depending on the complexity of your case, this process could also take a considerable time.

Once liability is acknowledged, your solicitor will then attempt to negotiate a full and adequate settlement of compensation for medical procedure errors – which will be assessed on the level of injury you have sustained and how it has affected your quality of life – unless the full consequences of the injury have not yet manifested, in which case there will be a further delay until such time as your solicitor is certain that the settlement he or she is proposing covers every aspect of your injury.

If it is likely that there will be a delay until the resolution of your claim for errors made in a surgical procedure, but liability has already been acknowledged, your solicitor will be able to apply for interim payments of compensation until such time as a satisfactory conclusion can be agreed. As the whole process to could take a considerable amount of time from start to finish, it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.