We are often asked if there’s a cut-off time to lodge a claim for personal injury. In our previous blog post, we explained the legal limitations within a time frame of three years for these types of claims and the importance of taking action as soon as possible.
In this post, we will provide two real-life cases seen here in Australia and how they were judged under the law.
This case example was a claim for medical negligence.
Recently, Justice Brown was required to assess whether, or not, an extension to the limitation period should be granted. The basics of each case are:
Lang v McArthur & Ors  QSC 119:
An alleged medical negligence action. The alleged negligence was against two doctors. Dr McArthur allegedly did an intramuscular injection of penicillin into the buttocks of Ms Lang, who was only three months of age in or about 1978. Dr Mcguire (An Orthopaedic Surgeon) did around 16 surgeries between 1978 and 1991. Ms Lang’s limitation period expired on her 21st birthday. Ms Lang was 42 years of age at the time of the application, with her limitation date having expired about 21 years previous.
Ms Lang alleged that the material facts of a decisive character were:
- On 19 October 2017, Ms Lang met with her general practitioner and saw a radiology report that said she had a deformity of her left leg, a fact which she says she had not previously known. Further, on that date, she was advised that she had extensive arthritis of both legs, feet and hips which may have certain consequences in the future because her condition was poor and deteriorating quickly including that she may potentially be wheelchair-bound in five to 10 years.
- She observed a ‘V’ shaped staple in her foot in radiology imaging which she had been unaware of; and
- Discovering the identity of the General Practitioner who was said to have given her injections in her left buttocks when she was a baby.
In short, Judge Brown rejected the first assertion as Ms Lang had significant symptomology, functional issues and wastage in the left leg since she was at least 18 years of age. That is, it was known to Ms Lang that she had a deformity long before 19 October 2017. Judge Brown was not swayed that the injury was sufficiently trivial until on 19 October 2017 whereupon it became known to Ms Lang of the severity of her injury. That is, Ms Lang’s injury has always been significant. In relation to the identity of the General Practitioner Dr McArthur, Ms Lang’s mother did not say she did not know who the doctor was or that she had forgotten the name of Dr McArthur. She was simply reluctant to provide that information to Ms Lang until pressed.