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How long do I have to make a medical negligence claim in the ACT or NSW?

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Hour Glass - Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

If you are making a claim for a personal injury, time limits determine how long you have to make a claim. This time limit is called the “limitation period”, or commonly referred to as “statute of limitations”.

With medical negligence, people are often focused on getting better after they have been a victim of medical negligence. It is only down the track that they think to bring a claim. Sometimes it can be too late to bring a claim, which is why it is important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.

If you have been injured, it is very important that you know how long you have to bring a claim as the limitation periods are tight and quite strict.

Medical Negligence in the ACT

In the ACT, you have 3 years to bring a claim. The 3 years starts running from when you first know that medical negligence occurred. In some cases, people know right away that they suffered medical negligence. In other cases, people do not know that they have suffered medical until issues arise later.

Here are some examples:

  • Mrs A had surgery in January 2015. In January 2017 she discovered that the surgery was negligent. The 3 years starts in January 2017 and expires in January 2020.
  • Mr B had surgery in February 2020. He knew right away that the surgery was negligent. The time limit expires in February 2023 (3 years after the surgery date).

It is also important to note that in the ACT, there are also initial notice periods. You need to put the other side on notice of a potential claim soon after the accident or injury. If you see a lawyer, you have 4 months after instructing the solicitor to give the other side notice of a potential claim. If you do not see a lawyer, you have 9 months after the injury to give the other side notice of a potential claim.

Medical Negligence in NSW

In NSW, you must bring a medical negligence claim within either:

  • 3 years from when you discovered that the medical negligence occurred; or
  • 12 years from when the medical negligence occurred.

The date that expires first is that date that is used.

Here are some examples:

  • Mrs A had surgery in January 2015. In January 2017 she discovered that the surgery was negligent. The 3 years starts in January 2017 and expires in January 2020.
  • Mr B had surgery in February 2008. In February 2019 he discovered that the surgery was negligent. The 3 years does not apply to him. The time limit expires in February 2020 (12 years after the surgery date).
  • Miss C had surgery in January 2020. She knew right away that the surgery was negligent. The time limit expires in January 2023 (3 years after the surgery date).

What if I don’t know if I have a claim or not?

If you are outside of the limitation period, you may have lost your chance to make a claim. For this reason, it is best to deal with this as early as possible and if you decide later on that you do not want to continue the claim, you can let it go at a later date. By acting early, at least you have the opportunity available to you.

Limitation periods apply for all types of claims and the information provided here does not cover every possibility or individual circumstance. If you have suffered medical negligence but you think you are outside the timeframe, you should still seek legal advice to see if there is a possibility to make a claim. Feel free to get in touch with us and we can give you more information regarding the time limits relating to your circumstances.

If you have been injured and are thinking of making a claim, or if you are unsure about whether or not you can make one, contact us on 6206 1300.

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