All medical practitioners owe their patients a duty of care. If you have suffered injury due to medical negligence, it may be that you are entitled to claim compensation.
Read our most frequently asked medical negligence questions below.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence may result from an error at hospital, for example during surgery, or your GP may have misdiagnosed an illness or prescribed incorrect medication.
It could also be negligent ophthalmic or dental treatment, mistreatment of the elderly in nursing homes or mistakes made in both antenatal and postnatal care.
It is also possible to claim for the death of a relative, provided you believe that the death could have been avoided with alternative treatment.
Is it possible to claim against both NHS and Private healthcare providers?
Yes. It is possible to bring a claim against any individual or hospital that has provided medical care or treatment, whether privately or through the NHS. Claims against NHS hospital doctors are pursued against the Trust as a whole, whereas claims against GPs, dentists and private consultants are pursued against them individually.
Nearly all healthcare providers will have indemnity insurance in place which protects you from the risk of suing an individual who may not have funds to pay out compensation. It is unusual to find a medical practitioner who does not have appropriate insurance cover.
Am I able to bring a claim?
In order to be successful in claiming compensation, you must prove that the medical care or treatment you received fell below a “reasonable standard”: a standard that would be considered reasonable by a responsible body of medical opinion (breach of duty). It must also be proven that on the “balance of probabilities” this negligent treatment caused an injury that would otherwise have been avoided (causation).
The question of causation means proving it was the negligent element of the treatment and care which caused an injury, rather than this being attributable to another cause such as a recognised and non-negligent complication of a procedure or an unpreventable progression of the original problem, which gave rise to the need for medical treatment in the first place.
How do I prove medical negligence?
Any allegations of negligence must be supported by independent medical expert evidence. Our firm will obtain this evidence on your behalf, utilising the very best medico-legal experts in their field.
An expert’s duty is to the Court and not to their instructing solicitor, so you can be reassured any assessment and obtained is independent and impartial.
Are there any time limits to make a claim?
A claim must normally be made within three years of the date of incident or your date of knowledge of the negligence, whichever is later. In relation to treatment of a child, the three years will run from the child’s eighteenth birthday.
‘Date of knowledge’ can be difficult to assess and so if you are unsure, we will be able to discuss this further.
How long do medical negligence claims take?
It is difficult to predict how long a claim will take to reach a conclusion as there are a number of factors that affect how a claim progresses.
Medical negligence claims are extremely complex given the detailed medical issues involved. A number of medico-legal experts need to be instructed in a case and this can affect the length of time it takes to bring a claim to its conclusion.
There are set timetables to follow which allow all parties a sufficient amount of time to respond. It is possible for these deadlines to be extended by mutual agreement or by application to the Court, which will allow the parties extra time to clarify issues and undertake additional investigations.
As there are a number of additional factors which can affect how a claim progresses, it is difficult to predict how long a claim will take to reach conclusion.
Will I have to attend Court?
Approximately 99% of claims are settled without having to attend Court. In the unlikely event that your claim should reach Court, you will be guided, supported and represented throughout the process.
How do I fund my claim?
Legal aid is no longer routinely available for medical negligence claims, except for cases which relate to birth injury. Other funding options are available, such as legal expenses insurance or no win no fee agreements. Further information on funding options can be found on our funding page.
Does your firm provide assistance with inquests?
Yes, we do. Please see further details on our inquests page.
I believe I have a claim – what should I do now?
If you have been a victim of medical negligence, contact us or call 0800 088 6004 to speak to a member of our specialist Medical Negligence Team.
We will be happy to discuss the circumstances of your potential claim either over the telephone, via e-mail or where necessary at a meeting.