Medical Negligence Claims: The Facts
In order to succeed with a medical negligence claim, you must establish that a medical practitioner’s duty of care towards you has been breached and that the breach has caused you an injury or loss.
Breach of duty
All medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients, this duty of care is breached if the care provided fell below the standard of a reasonably competent doctor in that particular field of medicine. The test of whether the healthcare professional breached the duty of care is whether he or she has failed to meet the standard of a reasonable body of other medical practitioners also skilled in that field. However, if the defendant can show that there is a respectable body of medical practitioners who would have acted in the same way, then the claim will fail.
In addition to proving breach of duty, you also have to establish that the negligent care provided either directly caused the injuries alleged or significantly contributed to them.
Establishing this link between breach of duty and causation is often not as obvious as it sounds and has to be supported by independent medical opinion.
Once breach of duty and causation has been established and admitted by the Defendant, compensation will be recoverable. This will include ‘General Damages’ which compensate for the pain and suffering experienced and ‘Special Damages’ which compensate for specific past and future financial losses.
Legal proceedings for adults have to be brought within three years of the date of the injury or the date of knowledge of the injury.
For children, the three year time limit starts to run from their eighteenth birthday, therefore legal proceedings have to be brought before the child reaches age twenty-one.
For individuals that lack mental capacity, the time does not start ticking until they regain capacity.
The Court does have discretion to extend the three year time limit in exceptional circumstances however whenever possible it is best to approach a solicitor as soon as possible to avoid the risk of being debarred from pursuing a claim.
Natalizia Capizzi is a solicitor in the Medical Negligence Department at Osborne Morris & Morgan. For any enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01525 378177.