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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Is there a time limit for claiming 
birth injury compensation?

If you are thinking about claiming compensation for a birth injury, either to your child or yourself, it is important to be aware that there are strict time limits for starting a claim. If you miss the time limit, you are unlikely to be able to bring a claim and may miss out on a substantial amount of compensation.

Time limits for birth injury claims
The exact time limit will depend on whether it was your child or yourself who was injured.

Birth injuries to the mother
If you suffered the injury, you will usually have 3 years from the date when it occurred to bring a claim. An exception will be if you only became aware of the injury at a later date e.g. when examined by another doctor. In this case, the 3-year time limit may begin from the date you became aware of the injury.

Birth injuries to the baby
If your baby was injured during their birth, the 3-year time limit will only take effect once they turn 18, giving them until their 21st birthday to bring a claim.  However, a parent is able to bring a claim for personal injury compensation on behalf of the child. This is encouraged, to recover compensation at the earliest possible date.  

If your child has been left without the capacity to bring a claim on their own behalf, e.g. due to serious brain damage, then there is no time limit for you to bring a claim for them. By this, we mean that a claim can be brought on their behalf at any time, even after the age of 21. However, it is sensible to bring a claim for compensation at the earliest possible date, before evidence is lost and, just as importantly, to recover compensation as quickly as possible.

Bringing a birth injury claim after the time limit
In theory, the Courts can disregard the time limits, allowing you to bring a claim outside of the normal window. However, this is unusual and there would have to be good reason for this to be allowed.

Why is there a time limit for birth injury claims?
There are a number of reasons why time limits are imposed for bringing birth injury claims. One of the reasons is that the longer it is from the incident taking place, the harder it is to clearly establish what happened. This is for various reasons, including witnesses forgetting what happened and medical notes being lost.

For this reason, it is essential to start collecting evidence as soon as possible even if, as in the case of an injury to a child, you may need to wait several years to establish the full value of the claim, (because the child’s needs will not become clear for some while).     However, the sooner you and your legal team can start building a case, the better chance you have of making a successful claim and recovering compensation.

How to make a birth injury compensation claim
If you believe you may be entitled to claim birth injury compensation due to medical negligence, it is strongly recommended to speak to a firm of specialist birth injury solicitors. This will ensure your legal team have the expertise you need to make sure all of the relevant factors are identified and the strongest possible case is put together, giving you the best chance of a fair outcome.
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