Can I Make a Claim for Medical Negligence?

In Ireland, medical negligence can profoundly impact patients and their families. Navigating the aftermath of such an experience requires understanding your rights and the legal processes involved in making a claim. This guide aims to provide comprehensive insights into medical negligence claims, delivering valuable information to those affected.

What Constitutes Medical Negligence in Ireland?

Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional’s substandard care results in harm or injury to a patient. If you’ve suffered due to negligence in a public hospital or private clinic, you may be entitled to bring a claim for the pain and suffering experienced. Similarly, if a family member’s life has been lost due to medical negligence, a wrongful death claim may be pursued.

To establish a successful medical negligence case, two critical aspects must be proven:

1. Negligence

The treatment received must fall below the standard of care expected. This could involve errors by consultants, doctors, nurses, or other hospital employees.

2. Causation

There must be a direct link between the negligent treatment and the harm suffered. This could mean delayed recovery, further injury, or sustained loss.

What Is the Time Limit for Medical Negligence Claims?

Irish law imposes strict time limits, known as the statute of limitations, for commencing legal actions. Generally, medical negligence claims must be issued within two years, less a day, from the date of the negligent act. However, determining the exact start date can be complex.

Immediate Realisation vs. Date of Knowledge

In some cases, individuals immediately recognise the negligence. In others, the realisation may come later. The ‘date of knowledge’ refers to when you became aware of the injury and its cause. This date can start the two-year limitation period.

If you suspect negligence, seeking legal advice promptly is crucial. Delaying could result in your case being statute-barred, preventing a successful claim.

Date of Knowledge

The ‘date of knowledge’ is the point when the injured person becomes aware:

  • They have been injured.
  • The injury is significant.
  • The injury resulted from negligence or breach of duty.
  • The identity of the responsible party.

Immediate awareness often coincides with the injury event. However, some injuries or illnesses may manifest later. In such instances, the date of knowledge is when the injury was discovered. The claim is considered made once submitted to the Injuries Board.

Time Limitations for Children and Individuals with Intellectual Impairment

For minors (under 18 years), the two-year limitation period begins on their 18th birthday, giving them until their 20th birthday to make a claim. However, it’s advisable to proceed without delay, with a parent or guardian acting on their behalf.

This extension also applies to individuals with intellectual impairments.

Whom Can I Claim Against?

If you are a victim of negligent treatment in a Health Service Executive (HSE) hospital, the claim is typically against the hospital under the government’s clinical indemnity scheme. In a private hospital, claims may need to be directed at the treating doctor, consultant, or staff member directly.

How to Make a Medical Negligence Claim

If you’re unhappy with the treatment received, contacting an experienced solicitor is a crucial step. A solicitor will:

  1. Obtain Medical Records: Your solicitor will gather records from the relevant healthcare providers.
  2. Review and Investigate: These records will be reviewed, and an independent expert may be instructed to assess whether the care provided fell below expected standards.
  3. Expertise and Experience: Choose a solicitor with a proven track record in medical negligence cases.

Making a Medical Negligence Claim with HOMS Assist

At HOMS Assist, we bring over 50 years of expertise in handling medical negligence cases. We understand the stress and complexity involved, and we are dedicated to supporting you through every step of the process.

We are committed to:

  • Empathy and Understanding: Acknowledging the emotional toll on you and your family.
  • Professionalism and Expertise: Offering precise legal guidance and robust representation.
  • Client-Centred Approach: Prioritising your needs and concerns throughout the legal journey.

If you believe you may have a claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is here to provide the support and expertise needed to navigate this challenging time.

Embark on your path to justice and peace of mind. Contact HOMS Assist today for a consultation.

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