Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes (the meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord which causes them to become inflamed, damaging the nerves and brain, sometimes with fatal consequences.


Bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia all require immediate medical treatment. If doctors fail to provide appropriate treatment, perhaps because of a delay in diagnosis and you or your child suffers serious harm, a claim may be possible.

Bacterial meningitis can occur when bacteria enters the body via the nose or mouth. In the majority of cases, these bacteria will live in the body quite harmlessly. Sometimes, for reasons still not fully understood, the bacteria cross into the bloodstream and cause widespread harm resulting in symptoms such as severe headache, vomiting, aching joints, fever, a stiff neck, an aversion to light. In some cases there can be a purple rash which does not disappear when a glass is placed on it.

Whilst some of these symptoms can be associated with minor diseases such as flu, in certain cases doctors should suspect meningitis and ensure urgent tests are conducted to check their diagnosis. Speed is absolutely vital, as meningitis spreads rapidly and a patient’s condition can deteriorate in a matter of hours.

Medical professionals may be negligent by failing to carry out the appropriate tests, misdiagnosing the condition or not making a timely enough diagnosis. In these circumstances there may be a case for making a claim if you or your child suffers harm as a consequence.

Whilst some of these symptoms can be associated with minor diseases such as flu, in certain cases doctors should suspect meningitis and ensure urgent tests are conducted to check their diagnosis. Speed is absolutely vital, as meningitis spreads rapidly and a patient’s condition can deteriorate in a matter of hours.

If medical professionals are negligent in diagnosing or treating meningitis by failing to carry out the necessary tests, misdiagnosing or not making a timely enough diagnosis, there may well be a case for making a claim if you suffer harm as a consequence.

I want to know

How do I make a meningitis claim

This is specialist work. It is important that your chosen law firm has the legal expertise and the medical knowledge to understand and appreciate what evidence is required and to interpret that evidence when it is obtained.

Your lawyers must also have relationships with the appropriate medical and other experts who can assess your immediate health needs and suggest what treatments you or your child may urgently require. Their input will be absolutely crucial to your or your child’s recovery and the success of your claim.

Access Legal can help you to show that you or your child received sub-standard treatment, initially in a failure or delay in diagnosing meningitis and the impact that may have had on giving you or your child prompt treatment. We must be able to prove that, in all likelihood, you suffered harm as a direct consequence of that sub-standard care.

If you are worried about the treatment that you or your child received you should seek advice from a specialist solicitor straight away. There are time limits to making these claims so it is best if we speak as soon as you are able to after the event so we can best advise you of your options.

If you feel you may have a case, call us for a free initial consultation. Our priority will always be your health and well-being. Access Legal can give you the benefit of our experience in such claims as well as an objective assessment of the likely success of your claim.

How long will a meningitis claim take

There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on a variety of factors, such as how serious your injuries are and whether the other party admits liability.

We will need access to records and evidence from independent experts to provide reports, initially to establish if there is a case to be answered. We then need to obtain evidence about you or your child’s current condition and future health and what help you are likely to require on an ongoing basis.

Your personal circumstances and employment prospects will dictate how many reports are required and how long we'll need to enable us to take account of lost earnings if you cannot return to work and the cost of whatever help and support you may need, potentially for life.

All this takes time, but this information is vital so that all the necessary evidence is obtained to allow us to recover the maximum amount of damages to which you are entitled.

How co-operative the other side chooses to be can also affect the time it takes to resolve your claim. Sometimes, the Defendant will accept our evidence and our valuation or they may dispute it. We will then enter into negotiations in order to reach a satisfactory settlement. The length of time spent in such negotiations can vary. It is rare for these cases to go to trial, but some can and that too will add time.

We will always aim to resolve your case without delay, but it’s important we take the time to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

If I have a meningitis case

Establishing whether you have a case for making a meningitis claim depends on whether Access Legal’s expert lawyers can show that there was a breach of the duty owed to you by the responsible healthcare staff.

We need to prove that doctors failed to appropriately test for meningitis or that their failure to diagnose, misinterpret or delay that diagnosis lead to you not receiving the appropriate treatment. The standard of that proof need only be that 'on the balance of probability' (i.e. greater than 50% likelihood) it was those failures that were directly responsible for the injuries and actual physical harm you or your child suffered.

There are time limits within which you can claim so whatever your circumstances you should contact Access Legal as soon as is practicable. We can then give you free initial advice about whether a claim is possible and establish what additional treatments you may require to help you deal with the future, whatever your prognosis.

The value of your claim will depend on the nature and severity of the injury you or your child suffered, whether you or your child recover fully or if there is long term effect on your health and well-being or that of your child. These can be complex, lengthy and demanding cases. The first thing to do is to contact an expert law firm like Access Legal which specialises in this sort of work and can advise you if you have a case that is likely to succeed.

More about meningitis claims

Bacterial meningitis is very serious and should be considered a medical emergency. If left untreated, it can infect the blood, causing septicaemia, which can cause widespread injury. It usually affects children under five years of age, particularly babies under the age of one. It can also affect teenagers aged 15 to 19, although any adult of any age may be susceptible.

Viral meningitis can be mistaken for flu. It is also more common in children and more widespread during the summer.

Meningococcal septicaemia also requires urgent diagnosis and treatment. Failure by a medical team to recognise the symptoms may lead to long term complications such as deafness, blindness and limb loss. In some rare cases the infection can also sadly lead to death.

If this disease is recognised and treated promptly life-threatening complications or any serious long-term harm can be completely avoided.

If you or a loved one have been adversely affected because medical professionals did not appropriately diagnose or manage meningitis infection, you may wish to consider making a claim.

Making a Medical Negligence Claim FAQs

Our Experts

'You need to have a legal team who are caring, who you absolutely trust and who will tell you the truth. Certainly from our point of view Denise Stephens from Access Legal has been absolutely amazing.'


We choose to do this work because we care passionately about helping people in your situation and have many years experience representing clients in meningitis claims, so don't hesitate contact us.

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