How could the Statute of Limitations for hospital medical negligence affect my compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of appendicitis?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

The Statute of Limitations for hospital medical negligence should have no effect on your compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of appendicitis if your claim is made within two years of the correct diagnosis being made – unless the claim is for a child; in which case the Statute of Limitations for hospital medical negligence does not start until the child reaches the age of eighteen.

The exception in respect of children is that minors under the age of eighteen are not permitted by law to instruct a solicitor or initiate legal action without a parent or guardian representing them as a ‘next friend’. Therefore, the time limit does not apply until the child becomes a legal adult – although claims for compensation against a hospital or medical facility can be made by a ‘next friend’ at any time beforehand.

The Statute places a two-year limit on the amount of time a legal adult has in which to commence legal action for a personal injury claim, and is in place so that evidence of negligence can be compiled while it still exists. It also protects negligent parties from the constant fear of litigation.

The time limit for your compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of appendicitis, for example, would have begun on the day that you were made aware that an injury has occurred due to hospital negligence. This is known as the ‘Date of Knowledge’ and would ordinarily be recorded in your medical history.

The difference in dates between the original misdiagnosis and the correct diagnosis of appendicitis is likely to be no more than a few days but, in some claims for hospital medical negligence, years can pass between the negligent act and an injury from it being discovered – such as when swabs and sponges are left in a patient after surgery.

Several points you may need to be aware of when making your compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of appendicitis include:-

  • The clock is stopped on the Statute of Limitations for hospital medical negligence once receipt of a solicitor´s ‘Letter of Claim’ is acknowledged by the negligent party.
  • Medical negligence claims for compensation are not assessed by the Injuries Board, so to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board is just using up the time you have available.
  • A claim for personal injury compensation does not necessarily have to be resolved within the two year Statute of Limitations for hospital medical negligence.

It is advisable that you to speak directly with a solicitor if you have not already sent a ‘Letter of Complaint’ to the medical facility in which your appendicitis was misdiagnosed or initiated a claim for compensation.

This will enable you to discuss the circumstances (and the dates) of the misdiagnosis of appendicitis so it can be confirmed that your claim is not affected by the Statute of Limitations for hospital medical negligence.