A Guide Looking At How Long Does It Take To Sue The NHS

If you have a valid medical negligence claim against an NHS healthcare provider, you may be asking: “How long does it take to sue the NHS?” Our guide gives you insight into the medical or clinical negligence claims process and factors that could extend or reduce the time a case takes to complete.

You may also wonder whether your case needs to go to court and if so, how long court proceedings are likely to take. We explain that the majority of cases settle before they need to be heard in a court. 

As the guide progresses, we discuss the legal time limit so you can consider how long you have to start your claim. We also note the benefits of having a specialist medical negligence solicitor from our panel represent you on a No Win No Fee basis.

Learn about when it is possible to make a medical negligence claim and ask about your potential case by contacting us for free advice. Any of these routes will lead you to a helpful and knowledgeable advisor:

  • Call our free helpline on 020 3870 4868.
  • Write to us about your claim online so we can call you.
  • Click the live chat button below to reach someone right away.

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Select A Section

  1. How Long Does It Take To Sue The NHS?
  2. How Long Does It Take To Sue The NHS If The Case Goes To Court?
  3. What Is The Time Limit For A Medical Negligence Claim?
  4. Can A No Win No Fee Solicitor Help Me Claim For Clinical Negligence?
  5. Learn More About Medical Negligence Claims

How Long Does It Take To Sue The NHS?

NHS negligence claims must prove that medical negligence, also called clinical negligence, took place. Medical negligence can occur if a medical professional deviates from professional standards and causes a patient to suffer avoidable physical injury, psychological harm, or both.

All medical professionals and healthcare providers owe a duty of care to the patients they agree to treat. To have a valid medical negligence claim, you must be able to show that the medical professional or healthcare provider, such as a hospital, owed you a duty of care, that this duty was breached, and due to this breach, you suffered harm that was avoidable had the correct standard of care been provided. 

The process of proving medical negligence can take some time. Therefore, the answer to ‘how long does it take to sue the NHS?’ is not a straightforward one.

Factors that might impact on the length of time a medical negligence claim takes include:

  • Liability. If the defendant admits liability early on a case can settle quite quickly.
  • The severity of any injury sustained. If the injury suffered is severe, then different medical reports may be needed by different specialist independent medical examiners, and also, you may be advised to wait till the injury has healed before settling to ensure that you get the correct amount of compensation. 
  • The collection of evidence. Compiling evidence can take a while, and you will want to ensure you have all the evidence you need before progressing with the claim. Missing evidence can mean your case is under-settled. 
  • How quickly a settlement can be agreed upon.
  • Whether the case needs to be heard in court.

Our specialist advisors are on hand to discuss how long it takes to sue the NHS, so please do not hesitate to call the number above and ask for guidance. After a free case assessment, they could connect you with specialist medical negligence solicitors who can help the process run as smoothly as possible using their knowledge and experience to navigate the clinical negligence claims process with ease. 

Does The Defendant Accepting Liability Speed Up The Claims Process?

NHS claims are much more likely to be resolved quickly once claimants prove liability. That means that they need to present sufficient evidence that care did not meet the correct standard and it led to unnecessary harm.

If an NHS Trust accepts liability during a clinical negligence compensation claim, the process is likely to take much less time. 

If liability is accepted, the body or insurance company handling the defendant’s case will move on to negotiating a payout.

Even in these cases, the negotiation could take some time. You can help things along by making sure you have medical evidence to show the harm you suffered after the negligent care occurred, as well as proof of any financial losses this caused.

How Long Does It Take To Sue The NHS If The Case Goes To Court?

When setting out to make a medical negligence claim, you may wonder how long does it take to sue the NHS if the case needs to be heard in court. Each and every medical negligence claim is unique to the claimant. No two negligence claims are ever the same.

Working out an average time for a medical negligence claim to settle will not provide you with useful information. Some cases can settle within months while others can take a lot longer. There are many factors like those that we discussed above that will have a bearing on the length of time a medical negligence claim will take to settle whether it goes to court or not. 

However, most people claiming medical negligence compensation against the NHS will not need to have their case heard in court that is because, according to NHS Resolution, a body which handles disputes for NHS Trusts, reported that 80% of people suing the NHS (2022/23) had their case resolved outside of court.

What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Before a case can be heard in court, it must first go through what is called the Clinical Disputes Pre-Action Protocol. This protocol consists of several steps taken by both parties to try to resolve the issue before court proceedings are issued. The final step is alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This step would be the last chance for both parties to come to an agreement before the case is heard in court. This would entail: 

  • Discussion and negotiation.
  • Asking a third party to mediate.
  • Seeking arbitration from another third party, who could decide the matter.
  • Going to an ombudsman; for example, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which independently investigates NHS complaints.

Call today and speak to an advisor to learn more about claiming compensation in court and how our panel’s specialist solicitors can help.

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What Is The Time Limit For A Medical Negligence Claim?

Typically, due to a time limit set out by The Limitation Act 1980, you have up to three years to start a medical negligence claim. The three years may start from when the negligent care occurred. However, some people may only learn later on, for example when getting reactive treatment from another healthcare professional, that medical negligence occurred. In such cases, the three-year limitation period starts from the date they became aware.

The courts may allow for exceptions to this time limit in certain circumstances. For example, a minor under the age of 18 cannot claim for themselves. Either a trusted person can apply to claim on their behalf as a litigation friend, or the minor has from their 18th to their 21st birthday to commence legal action.

The claim period is paused indefinitely for someone who is unable to claim due to a limited mental capacity. During this pause, a litigation friend can represent them at any time. Should the affected person regain their capacity, the three-year limit kicks in from their recovery date.

Calling and talking to one of our advisors can help you learn more about time limits for NHS compensation claims.

Can A No Win No Fee Solicitor Help Me Claim For Clinical Negligence?

Many people seek legal advice and legal representation from our panel’s expert medical negligence solicitors because their knowledge of the claims process can ensure that a case runs as smoothly as possible. 

Our panel’s solicitors help clients claim compensation under a Conditional Fee Agreement. This contract entitles the client to get legal support throughout the claims process with no upfront or running solicitor fees. As it’s a No Win No Fee deal, it also means that they can expect not to pay for the solicitor’s work if the claim fails.

Solicitors will only take a payment after successful claims, capturing what is known as a success fee. This fee is a minor percentage of the compensation the client receives. A legal cap set out by The Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013 ensures that the percentage will be small.

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Get In Touch Today

If you still have questions on how long does it take to sue the NHS, our advisors are on hand to help. We offer a free consultation service where you can learn whether you have a potential NHS negligence claim.

Should an advisor find that your case is valid, you could be put through to one of our panel’s expert solicitors. There is no obligation, so the choice is all yours. As our help service is 24/7, you’ll get through to us by using any of these channels:

  • Calling 020 3870 4868.
  • Making a query about your claim online through our contact page.
  • Opening the live support tab below.

Learn More About Medical Negligence Claims

We have many clinical negligence claim guides, including the ones below:

You could also find useful information from these sources:

We hope this has helped answer the question: “How long does it take to sue the NHS?” If you have any further questions about seeking clinical negligence compensation, please call or get in touch online today.