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Late Cancer Diagnosis Claims

If someone is suffering from cancer, cancerous cells can grow uncontrollably in a specific part of the body. Early diagnosis is often crucial because without treatment cancerous cells may break away from the primary cancer and travel to other parts of the body to form secondary cancer. This process (metastasis) can affect treatment and prognosis.

If you have suffered a delay in diagnosis of cancer you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Do you have a claim for a late cancer diagnosis?

A delay in recognising, diagnosing and treating a patient with symptoms of certain types of cancer can lead to a clinical negligence claim.

The earlier cancer is diagnosed then the better the patient’s chances are of survival.  If the cancer has had the opportunity to spread to other parts of the body, then it is more difficult to treat and the chances of curing the cancer are much lower.

Sometimes late diagnosis of cancer is due to patients not experiencing symptoms at an early stage whilst others may be put off going to see their GP because they do not think their symptoms are serious enough to warrant further investigation.  There are also occasions, however, where delays in diagnosis are caused by doctors or other medical professionals overlooking symptoms of cancer and not carrying out appropriate investigations or failing to refer their patients for tests and/or treatment.

Time limits

In clinical negligence claims, the general rule is that a Claimant has 3 years to start a civil claim for compensation arising from negligent medical treatment. Children are exempt from the 3-year limitation period (the 3-year period will start to run from the date of their 18th birthday) as are individuals without mental capacity to litigate.

If a Claim Form is not formally issued at Court within the 3-year limitation period, then a claim is usually time barred. Expiry of the limitation period is a defence which can be used by a Defendant to prevent a clinical negligence claim from succeeding.

Minton Morrill’s experience with late cancer diagnosis claims

Our medical negligence solicitors offer empathetic, clear and practical support to help you get answers under the most challenging of circumstances.

We are top ranked by leading client guides, the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Click here to read more about our accreditations.

How late cancer diagnosis claims work

Free initial consultation

We provide a free initial telephone consultation to discuss concerns you may have regarding your medical treatment which may have led to a delay in diagnosing cancer.  There is no obligation for you to proceed with a legal investigation at this stage.

Our team of solicitors will seek to assess whether you have a medical negligence case to pursue and offer you guidance about what we think you should do next.  This may include, for example, submitting a formal NHS complaint, obtaining medical records and/or discussing funding options so that a formal legal investigation can start.

For further information from a specialist solicitor about a free, initial telephone consultation, call our team of experts on 0113 245 8549.

No Win, No Fee late cancer diagnosis claims

Clinical negligence litigation funding can be complex and we understand you may be concerned about the costs of pursuing a claim. We can discuss with you a range of funding options including Conditional Fee Agreements (also known as No Win No Fee agreements), Legal Expenses Insurance, Trade Union Membership or Private Funding.

Minton Morrill are able to offer No Win No Fee agreements if we are optimistic that there are reasonable prospects your case will succeed. If we are able to take your case on under a No Win No Fee agreement then our legal fees only become payable if your compensation claim is successful. In many cases, we are able to claim the majority of our fees back from the Defendant. There are strict limits as to how much you would have to contribute.

If your claim is unsuccessful, you do not pay us anything and our legal costs are lost.

Click here for a dedicated page on the different ways of funding your late cancer diagnosis claim.

Investigating your claim

The first step is to speak with you to find out exactly what happened with your medical care and treatment. This can involve reviewing any correspondence you have had with the hospital or GP surgery for example, including a complaint response and/or investigation report.

Following a review of your potential claim, we will assess the prospects of success of establishing negligence. We will also discuss funding options with you.

Once funding is in place, the next step is to obtain copies of your medical records. We will then review the records, put together a chronology and obtain a witness statement setting out your recollection of events.

Once we have obtained a full set of medical records and witness statements are complete, we will instruct a medical expert, for example, a General Practitioner or Oncologist. Our medical expert will prepare a report assessing the standard of care you have received. We may then decide to hold a conference with a barrister and the expert(s) to test the medical expert evidence and advise on the prospects of a case.

It is important our preliminary investigations are as thorough as possible as this will be the foundation for the legal claim going forwards.

Valuing your claim

The amount of compensation a client receives will depend on the individual circumstances of their case and the extent of their injuries (sadly, some of our clients die of cancer before their case concludes and their family take over the case). 

Compensation is grouped into two categories: 

  1. General damages for a patient’s avoidable pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
  2. Special damages for quantifiable losses as a result of negligent care; for example, loss of earnings (for any time taken off work now or in the future), medical treatment, therapy and/or counselling costs, travel costs to medical appointments, past and future care and equipment needs.

Out-of-court settlements for late cancer diagnosis claims

It is generally uncommon for a clinical negligence claim to go to a Court Trial because the majority of successful cases settle before on an “Out of Court” basis given that there is a risk on both sides of losing a case at Trial. It also allows our clients to avoid the stress of Trial.

Minton Morrill have a track record of successfully settling cases out of court. Click here to read about some of our successful clinical negligence case studies. 

Court proceedings for late cancer diagnosis compensation claims

If the Defendant disputes liability, we will need to carefully assess the reasons they have put forward for this. If the medical experts we have instructed on your behalf maintain their position and continue to be supportive of a claim, then it may be necessary to issue proceedings at Court.

Once a claim is issued at Court, we have 4 months to send the Defendant specific legal pleadings setting out the allegations of negligence. The Defendant then usually has 28 days to consider and respond to the allegations by admitting liability or disputing it by sending through a Defence. If the Defendant continues to dispute liability the claim will continue down a set Court path and timetable.

Courts encourage parties to narrow down any disputed issues as far as is possible and encourage parties to try settle and resolve a case out of court.

Going to Court can of course be a daunting process but our experienced team will be there to support and guide you through the claims process.

Late cancer diagnosis compensation claims FAQs

What causes late cancer diagnoses?

There may be a delay in diagnosing a certain type of cancer (such as breast, bowel or prostate cancer) if a doctor does not recognise that the symptoms reported by a patient are signs of cancer which may warrant further investigation and treatment. A doctor may fail to make an appropriate referral for further cancer tests and investigations which could delay a definitive diagnosis and the implementation of appropriate treatment.

How long do late cancer diagnosis claims take?

The length of time it takes to fully investigate a late cancer diagnosis claim is dependent on the individual circumstances of each case.  Broadly, 12-16 months is a benchmark.

If an early admission of liability is subsequently made by the Defendant(s) it may be possible to resolve a medical negligence claim within around 18 months.  However, if the Defendant(s) refuse to admit wrongdoing, cases can take considerably longer.

Can you claim compensation for someone who died due to a late cancer diagnosis?

Yes. There is legislation in place which enables a claim to be pursued on behalf of a patient who has died as a result of clinical negligence.  Click here for information.

The time limit for pursuing a claim on behalf of a deceased patient is three years from the date of their death.

Will compensation affect my benefits?

It is possible to protect your entitlement to means tested benefits following a medical negligence compensation payment by placing your compensation in a Personal Injury Trust.

Our insights into late cancer diagnosis claims

Book a free, confidential consultation with our late cancer diagnosis solicitors

For further information about starting a late cancer diagnosis claim, give us a call on 0113 245 8549 or complete our Ask Us a Question form.