Medical negligence in any form can result in devastating consequences. Whether your condition was not diagnosed in time or you received the wrong treatment, your health can quickly take a turn for the worse. In severe cases, medical negligence can be fatal.
Under the law, you may be entitled to compensation if you’ve suffered as a result of medical negligence. Here are 9 things you should know about medical negligence claims.
#1. What Constitutes Medical Negligence Under The Law
Medical negligence refers to substandard care provided by a healthcare professional that directly harms the patient. It is also called clinical negligence.
Medical negligence can occur in several different ways, including:
- Failure to diagnose a condition
- Wrongful diagnosis
- Delay in starting the treatment
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Starting the treatment without informed consent
- Not warning the patient about the risks involved before starting the treatment
#2. Who Can A Medical Negligence Claim Be Filed Against
Medical negligence claims could be filed against any medical professional who provided substandard care that caused some form of harm. All healthcare practitioners are expected to comply with the legally mandated ‘duty of care’. This includes doctors, dentists, nurses, surgeons, midwives, anaesthetists, opticians, and paediatricians with the NHS as well as those practising privately.
#3. You’ll Need To Prove Beyond Doubt That You’ve Been A Victim Of Negligence
Just saying a doctor was negligent is not enough to secure compensation. To make a successful medical negligence claim, you will need to prove without any doubt that:
- There was a breach of duty as the level of care you received was below what could be reasonably expected of a competent professional in the same situation
- The substandard care directly resulted in your injury, pain, suffering, or loss
- The injuries, pain or suffering could have been avoided with proper care
Proof of medical negligence could be in the form of medical records, prescriptions, photographs of injuries, and a detailed account of the series of events and how they affected you. Without strong proof of negligence, it’s unlikely that your claim will proceed.
#4. Having A Medical Witnesses Can Support Your Claim
Sometimes, documentary evidence is just not enough to establish negligence. It’s difficult for a non-medical person to prove that a medical professional did something wrong. In this case, a medical witness can support your claim by providing their professional opinion. A medical witness’ testimony can make the difference between winning and losing a claim.
#5. There Is A Time Limit For Filing Medical Negligence Claims
Medical negligence claims have to be made within a three-year time limit. Depending on the circumstances, this could be three years from the date the negligence occurred or three years from the date that you became aware of the avoidable injuries. Claims filed after the three-year deadline are generally not accepted unless there are extenuating circumstances.
The only real exceptions to the 3-year time limit are when the medical negligence occurred to a child below 18 years of age or an adult who can’t make the claim themselves.
In the case of a child suffering from medical negligence, a litigation friend can file the claim at any time before they turn 18. If no claim is filed by then, the victim could still file a claim within three years from their 18th birthday.
For an adult who isn’t capable of making their own claim, a litigation friend could do so for them, or they’ll have 3-years to claim if they regain the ability to manage their own affairs.
#6. You Don’t Have To Pay Upfront Legal Fees For A Medical Negligence Claim
Almost all medical negligence solicitors today will offer you the option of entering into a No Win No Fee agreement. This agreement works largely in the claimant’s favour as it frees them from any financial risks or out of pocket expenses.
The way a typical No Win No Fee agreement works is that the solicitor covers all expenses related to the claim. If their client wins the claim and compensation, they’ll pay a percentage of the settlement to the solicitor. If they don’t win any compensation, they don’t pay anything.
#7. What You Can Expect To Get Compensated For If Your Claim Is Successful
Compensation for successful medical negligence claims is divided into two categories – General damages and Special damages.
General damages are meant to compensate you for the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the negligent treatment you received, and for loss of amenity.
Special damages are meant to reimburse you for your actual financial losses, such as:
- Cost of ongoing treatment
- Cost of travelling to and from the hospital for ongoing treatment
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of perks or promotion opportunity
- Cost of adapting your home or vehicle to accommodate your injuries
- Cost of any assistive devices that you may need
- Cost of home care, child care, or daycare
- Compensation for lower quality of life
- Compensation for psychological injuries
#8. Settlement Amounts Vary From Case-To-Case
Although compensation amounts remain similar in all claims for general damages, the final settlement can vary substantially from one medical negligence claim to another. Compensation will be calculated based on your own unique personal and financial circumstances resulting from the negligence you suffered.
#9. Having A Medical Negligence Solicitor Increases Your Chances Of Winning A Medical Negligence Claim
Many medical negligence claims are highly complex and can be challenging to process without expert professional help. When you have a medical negligence solicitor, they will first reach out to their network of medical experts. Both professionals will work together to weigh the legal and medical merits of your claim and accordingly file a strong claim on your behalf. Not only will this (in our opinion) increase your chances of winning the claim but it should also help in claiming the maximum compensation due to you.