If you or a member of your family has suffered as the result of medical or clinical negligence then it is your/their right to claim against the responsible party for the damage, pain and suffering endured. The size of the compensation fee will be determined largely, by the severity of the physical and/or psychological consequences experienced and any financial shortfalls sustained.
What counts as clinical or medical negligence?
Clinical negligence, medical negligence and medical malpractice all relate to the same thing; i.e. when insufficient or inadequate care has been given from a health care professional to a patient, resulting in an injury or death.
Medical professionals may include:
- Doctors and GPs
There is an inexhaustible list of different medical conditions and situations where medical negligence can occur, even minor injuries should not be ruled out for seeking compensation. Most cases will come under the categories of poor or incorrect surgical procedures, incorrect or non-existent diagnosis of a condition, the wrong dosage for medication or use of the wrong type of medication.
These instances of clinical negligence may be broken down further and recognised in the following scenarios:
- Cosmetic procedures not being carried out correctly
- Birth injuries causing cerebral palsy or other conditions
- Still birth
- Neglect in any type of surgery
- Situations giving rise to MRSA or other infections
- Cancer care neglect
- Specific orthopaedic, gynaecological or paediatric negligence
- Ineffective anaesthetic
- Spinal, head and eye injuries
- Poor psychiatric care
Unfortunately, clinical negligence occurs on a daily basis in both NHS and privately managed organisations, with a whole host of different circumstances leading to accidents and injuries. The National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) – 2010 revealed that the NHS received 6,652 £787 million in clinical negligence claims in 2009/2010. If your treatment was carried out in an NHS hospital then any legal action will see the NHS Trust or the NHSLA take responsibility for the proposed damage. If your treatment has been carried out in a private hospital, then responsibility can lie in different places; some staff will be employed directly by the hospital and therefore insured by the hospital, whereas others will be self-employed and have their own insurance.
How is medical Negligence compensation estimated?
As with other types of personal injury compensation claims, there are key considerations to make:
- The impact of the injury on the victim’s life
- Special damages which includes past and future financial losses
Case law draws on legal outcomes of previous similar cases and such information will be deliberated when working out how much compensation needs to be awarded. Financial loss equates to anything paid out as a result of an injury. Buying certain equipment to help with mobility such as a wheelchair or a hoist will be added to this equation as well as any loss of earnings or care provided, now or in the future. E.g. a care home.
What compensation figure will I receive?
The aim of compensation for medical negligence is to put an individual in the same set of financial circumstances he/she was in prior to the accident causing the injury; it also aims to recompense of any suffering. Figures are therefore heavily dependent on the facts of a case and difficult to predict. Past cases of medical negligence have begun with small figure settlements in the thousands whereas some, albeit on rare occasions, have received 7 figure settlements.
A resent case involving breast surgery gone wrong at a Barnsley Hospital between 2005 – 2008, saw 6 women receive a total of £1.2 million in compensation from the NHS, equalling approximately £45,000 each. The women suffered leaking, scarring and infections. Another case involving a children’s author who was left with permanent blurred vision in one eye following laser eye surgery at an Ultralase Clinic in Guilford, involved the victim, Jan Fearnley, collecting £250,000 in compensation. Her loss of 5 years’ earnings was considered in the settlement in acknowledgement of her inability to perform her job working with children’s picture books.
Stories like these often make headlines but there are a plethora of minor injuries and conditions acquired as the result of someone else’s mistake which gain suitable amounts of compensation. Even if you think your injury is small, it is worth getting expert legal advice on how much you are likely to receive.
Apart from exceptional circumstances you must make your claim within 3 years of the injury/accident occurring. Once your claim has been validated you will undergo medical assessment from a medical consultant.
Beginning a claim for medical negligence can mark the start of a long journey for some clients. Fine details of the case need to be examined, often including those of a personal nature. However, all these elements are important in our ultimate aim of getting you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.