In South Australia, an action for negligence causing personal injury must be begun within three years of the cause of action arising (which is usually the date on which the relevant medical treatment or advice was provided). If the documents are not filed in court within the three year limit the claim becomes statute barred, which means the court's permission is required for the claim to go ahead.
An extension of time to begin court proceedings can be granted in certain circumstances. Under section 48(3) of the Limitation of Actions Act 1936 (SA), the patient must show that a material fact came to his or her attention less than twelve months before the application for an extension of time was made and that it is just and equitable to extend the time. If the other party has been prejudiced (disadvantaged), for example, if records have been destroyed or witnesses have disappeared or died, an extension may be refused. This is a very complicated area and it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible as special time limits apply in product liability claims.