Medical Negligence Claims
When things go wrong with a medical procedure, it can be hard for a patient or their loved ones to accept that human failure is a fact of life. When you put yourself and your health in the hands of a professional rightly you expect them to do their best. All medical treatments carry risks and patients are warned of serious risks.
So how do you deal with it when things do go wrong?
Making A Claim
It is important to remember that you can claim compensation for medical negligence (also referred to as clinical negligence), when things go wrong with your medical treatment whether you receive that treatment from a doctor, dentist, surgeon or nurse as long as it can be proved that the treatment was negligent – meaning that the standard of medical care fell below the generally accepted standard. It is also important to remember that the level of medical or clinical care expected will be the same regardless of whether you have been treated by the NHS or a private doctor or hospital.
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.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of negligent medical treatment you may have a right to claim compensation for medical negligence.
Choose The Right Legal Team
Medical negligence is a highly specialist area so it is important that if you contact a solicitor that your solicitor has specific experience in this field. The team at Jefferies Solicitors are specialists in dealing with medical negligence claims and are members of Headway and The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
When Can You Make Your Claim?
If you have suffered an injury because of medical negligence within the last 3 years then you may be able to recover damages. A claim for compensation must be commenced at Court within three years of the event causing the injury if the matter is not settled at that point.. Legal action will become statute barred if this time limit is exceeded however there are some exceptions to this rule:
- In claims for children – the three year period does not start running until the child is eighteen.
- In clinical negligence claims the three year period begins to run from the date when you first had knowledge that your injury was caused by the negligence of the medical practitioner.
- For people who suffer from mental incapacity the time will only start to run if they gain capacity.
What Can You Make A Medical Negligence Compensation Claim For?
Compensation for medical negligence may cover things such as:
- Loss of past and future income
- The cost of care
- Medical expenses and prescriptions
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Loss of amenity
- Reduced employment prospects
- Legal expenses
Common Types Of Medical and Clinical Negligence Claims
If you think you might have a case for medical negligence claims please contact us for informal advice. We operate on a No Win No Fee* basis.
You can either call us free on 0800 342 3206 or complete our initial online claim form and one of our team will be in touch with you to discuss your potential claim in more detail, on an informal and confidential, yet professional, basis.
*Please note – In limited circumstances, fees may be charged when your claim is not successful. These specific limited circumstances are set out in our No Win No Fee Agreement. In addition, if you fail to attend a medical appointment arranged for you, the doctor may charge a non-attendance fee.
How Much Compensation For Medical Negligence?
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.
Here are just some of the many testimonials we receive from past clients.
"Not being a solicitor, I found it difficult to communicate on a legal side, however your correspondence was in plain English and readily understood."
"I was a motorcyclist involved in a road traffic accident that was not my fault. I suffered from physical and psychological injuries as a result of the accident including a very serious injury to my wrist requiring surgery. The claim was very complex and Jefferies dealt withn it in a very professional manner and I was very happy with the outcome. I received £199,071.62 for my injuries and other losses including my loss of earnings. I would recommend Jefferies to my friends and family if they ever needed to make an accident claim."
"I was very pleased with the outcome of my case and would be happy to recommend Jefferies to family and friends"