The Civil Liability Act 2004 which was introduced by former Justice Minister Michael McDowell reduced the time limit for victims of medical negligence to sue from three to two years.
This has led to many injustices as many victims of medical negligence are not able to obtain the necessary liability reports and notes to enable them to properly establish liability against hospitals and doctors who treated them within the strict two year time period.
Liam Moloney, specialist Solicitor in medical negligence in Naas stated “this two year time limitation should be immediately extended to a period of 4 years to enable victims of medical negligence to take their cases without fear of their claims becoming statute barred. These types of cases require far more time to investigate than the cases currently being assessed by the Injuries Board who provide a far longer period. There are huge injustices being caused to thousands of victims of medical mistakes as many people are not even aware of the strict two year time limit. The Statute of Limitations should be immediately amended by the Government to provide equal access to court for all accident victims. “
There are in excess of 200,000 medical accidents in Ireland every year but less than 600 claims are taken for compensation. The State Claims Agency, which defends many of the hospitals and doctors involved in these cases, is constantly using the Statute of Limitations as a Defence to prevent genuine cases being heard in the Courts.
Victims of medical negligence have no compensation scheme available to them and in all cases, the only way to recover compensation is to issue proceedings in the High Court. In many cases, hospital medical notes and records have been mislaid, destroyed, gone missing or are in the personal possession of doctors. Without this information people in many cases cannot even commence their investigations into whether they have been treated negligently”
For regular personal injury claims the Act which introduced the Injuries Board provides that the Statute of Limitations is frozen for a period of up to 15 months from the time they receive claimant’s applications and then starts again after they issue permissions for cases to go to court.