How to make a Medical Negligence claim
While most people are in good hands with the medical profession, it’s an unfortunate reality that mistakes do happen. Due to the nature of the procedures involved, those mistakes can be devastating, potentially impacting in all areas in your life.
If you can prove that your condition was caused by negligence, you have the option of bringing a case for Medical Negligence. That may seem an impossibly complicated procedure, just when you’re at your most vulnerable, but it doesn’t have to be.
What Is Medical Negligence?
Medical Negligence is when a member of a medical profession has made an error, either by incompetence or carelessness, that results in their patient suffering injury. Or they may not have discussed alternative treatments with you which may have been available or properly spelled out the risks of the procedure which injured you. The guilty party could be a doctor or nurse, but any registered professional, from a dentist to a pharmacist, can also be considered negligent.
Of course, not every treatment that doesn’t work out is a case of negligence. All procedures and treatment carry risks of unavoidable injury. There are many examples of poor outcomes for patients where the doctors have treated them in a competent and professional way
You will have to be able to prove both breach of duty and causation. To prove breach of duty you must prove that the treatment you received fell below what would be considered to be a reasonable standard of treatment as judged by similar clinicians. In essence you must establish that the treatment which caused your injury was incompetent.
In order to prove causation you must prove that the mistake (breach of duty) caused your injury. This is not as straight forward as it may sound. For example if you have broken your leg and it was not set properly by the treating doctor you will have to prove what damage was caused by it being incorrectly set. It may be that the nature of the fracture was such that the outcome was always going to be less than perfect however it was set.
If you can establish breach of duty and causation then the next thing to do is to prove how your injury has affected you financially. This could include being unable to work, needing help with everyday activities or having to pay for treatment.
When can you make a Medical Negligence claim?
The general rule is within three years of the injury caused by your treatment. If you leave it longer than that, you normally won’t be able to claim.
If you were under eighteen when the negligence occurred, your three years doesn’t start till your eighteenth birthday.
If you can show that you could not have known that the cause of your injury was negligent treatment you might be allowed by the court to bring a claim provided it is within three years of when you could or should have known.
How to go about making a Medical Negligence Claim
As with any legal case, you’re theoretically entitled to handle the claim yourself, but that’s not advisable. Legal representation, besides offering expert help, also provides an objective approach that’s essential in negotiations or a court case.
Fortunately, you don’t need to pay for legal representation up front. Many Medical Negligence solicitors, including Osborne Morris & Morgan, offer a no win, no fee service. If you win your case then the loser will pay your legal fees. If you lose there is nothing to pay as Hospitals and Doctors are not allowed to recover their costs from you except in exceptional circumstances.
It is important to make sure the solicitors you approach have a specialist Medical Negligence team. A family law or property solicitor may have slightly more knowledge than a lay person but won’t have the expertise you need.
The process of your Medical Negligence claim
Your solicitor will work with you to gather evidence and specialist reports, if necessary. The initial aim will be to persuade the other side to agree to a settlement without the case having to go to trial, which is achievable in the vast majority of cases.
In some instances, though, a trial may be necessary. If that applies to your claim, you may need to appear in court, but your solicitor will guide you through the process and explain exactly what’s required.
The length of time a Medical Negligence case takes can vary depending upon the complexity of the case and how cooperative the defendant is. The most complex cases can take several years, if they’re defended.
Most people who bring Medical Negligence claims require special provisions as a result of their injury. This could be treatment or therapy, specialist accommodation or equipment, or help with daily tasks. Your solicitor should help you calculate the costs and include them in the claim you make.
The outcome of your Medical Negligence claim
As long as you’ve used a no win, no fee solicitor or legal expenses insurance, the worst-case scenario is that you lose the case and don’t get your compensation, but you’ll suffer no extra losses. However, if you have a good case and expert representation, it’s likely you’ll either win your case or be offered an out-of-court settlement.
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the nature of your injury. Even if it doesn’t significantly impact your day-to-day activities, you should still receive some compensation for suffering pain but this will increase significantly if the negligence has had serious consequences. The award should cover all your needs over whatever period you’re considered likely to require them.
Compensation can be paid either as a lump sum or a lump sum with an annuity. This is likely to depend of the nature of your needs and the amount of compensation.
For large sums of compensation we can offer guidance on investments and managing your future needs.
Hopefully you’ll never need to go through this process. If you feel you have suffered from Medical Negligence get in touch with us – we will be very happy to help you.