Don’t Leave it Too Late

Published: 2nd February 2017

In the year 2000, an 83-year-old client had a knee replacement in a local hospital. However, after leaving her with seven years of trouble, she asked to be transferred to Sheffield Teaching Hospital. After speaking to a knee surgeon there, the lady discovered that the seven years of pain she had been experiencing were a result of the original operation being done very poorly, which included some of the components of the false knee being the wrong size.

The client then underwent a revision operation, but as expected, the results of the revision surgery were not as good, leaving her with nine further years of pain in her knee. It was only at this point that the client decided to contact a solicitor.

Unfortunately, too much time had passed since her original operation, and the beginning of her issues, this meant that we could not take the case on. If the client had enquired about a damages claim in 2007, when she was aware that her knee problems were possibly a result of errors in the original operation, she would have had reasonable grounds to build a case, however delaying this meant that she was nine years too late.

Ideally the client should have considered the reasons for the continuing pain and issued court proceedings within the three years following the original operation. Failing to issue court proceedings means the client loses the right to pursue a damages claim. In some circumstances, a Court can allow the case to go ahead even though the limitation period has expired, but that discretion is used sparingly. There are also many other good reasons why a client should seek advice as soon as possible, if they believe they have grounds for a claim. As time passes, proof of a claim becomes less valuable, memories of witnesses fade and evidence disappears. The more time that passes, the more difficult it is for the claimant to prove their case.

In this particular case, we do not know if the original hospital were negligent when they performed the initial knee surgery. Certainly, surgery can go wrong despite the best efforts and skill of the surgeon. However, by delaying so long, this patient lost any chance of pursuing her damages claim.

If you believe you have suffered clinical negligence or any other personal injury that was not your fault, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01226 731 314.