Medical Negligence Claims

Medical Negligence Claims

Medical negligence claims for compensation are often a necessity. When a medical procedure is botched, or an injury is sustained under the care of a doctor, the consequences for the victim are often grave. A patient can be left in serious pain and may suffer for months, years or even a lifetime, through no fault of their own.

There is often a high monetary cost associated with revision treatment, which many medical negligence victims can ill afford and may not be able to pay without a compensation award. Medical negligence claims can make all the difference to the quality of a victim’s life, and while they will rarely compensate for a medical mistake, they can make life considerably more comfortable.

If you have been injured in a hospital, received an incorrect or late diagnosis which has affected your health, or have undergone an incorrect procedure or an operation on the wrong body part, it is your right to make medical negligence claims against the negligent parties to recover compensation for your injuries.

Many personal injury claims are straightforward, but that is rarely the case with medical negligence claims. As such, using a specialist medical negligence claims solicitor to fight for compensation on your behalf is vital if you are to receive your full entitlement of medical negligence compensation.

Medical Negligence Claims and NHS Complaints

In many cases, victims of medical mistakes just want to know what has gone wrong and just want an apology. They accept that complications can arise from any medical procedure, and that illnesses can be hard to detect. Obtaining answers to questions and even an apology can allow them to have some closure and move on.

Medical Negligence Claims Before a claim for compensation is initiated, it is important to think about what you hope to achieve. Would you be happy with an apology, or would you want action to be taken against the medical professional or institution at fault? In many cases this is all that is required, and making a formal complaint and seeing action taken may be sufficient in itself. Many people assume medical negligence claims are the only option and initiate legal action because they are not aware of any alternative option.

Because of the number of medical negligence claims which have been received by the NHS, a NHS complaints procedure was devised to allow people to voice their grievances and be assured that action would be taken against those at fault. If a doctor is found to be at fault, action will be taken, and they may even be struck off the Medical Register preventing future patients from suffering, or at least the procedure will ensure that appropriate action is taken.

If you feel that you have been unfairly treated, or that you have suffered unduly as a result of treatment, you are entitled to an explanation at the very least. The NHS complaints procedure provides patients with exactly that, and ensures that any medical errors are properly addressed and that medical professionals are held accountable for their actions.

In some cases it will be insufficient to simply complain, as injuries sustained when undergoing treatment will involve unnecessary pain and suffering, or will have caused considerable financial loss. In these cases an NHS complaint should still be submitted, but it is also necessary to also seek legal advice about making medical negligence claims for compensation against those concerned.

A medical negligence claims solicitor will listen to your account of how your injuries have been sustained, and will be able to give you an assessment on your eligibility to claim compensation, and will advise you on the next steps to take.

Eligibility to Make Medical Negligence Claims

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff are generally caring for patients, and will do everything they can to ensure that patients receive the proper standard of care and that their illnesses and injuries are treated promptly and efficiently. Despite this level of diligence and care, medical professionals are human and are therefore capable of making mistakes. If an injury has been sustained due to a mistake by a doctor, hospital procedural errors, or a lack of care, it is your legal right to claim compensation for your injuries.

When there has been a breach in the duty of care of a medical professional, be that a dentist, doctor, surgeon or nurse, or even an administrator or manager, it is referred to as clinical or medical negligence, and medical negligence claims for compensation can be initiated.

In order for medical negligence claims to be successful, it is necessary to prove that “on the balance of probabilities” that a competent doctor should have been able to avoid causing an injury and would have ensured a complete and full recovery in an acceptable time frame. It is necessary not only to prove that there has been negligence, but that the negligence has directly caused injuries or unnecessary pain and suffering.

Although the law concerning medical negligence is straightforward, making medical negligence claims is rarely so. Medical negligence claims can be highly complex. Medical procedures do not always succeed, and there is always an element of risk associated with any treatment. Medical matters rarely are textbook cases, and complications can occur which no competent doctor would have been able to foresee, even with the wealth of modern technology now available.

In cases of fatalities from medical procedures, as difficult as it is for the family of the deceased, there may have been nothing which could have reasonably been done under the circumstances to prevent that outcome. However, even when it appears that a mistake has been made, proving that there was an error or a lapse in a duty of care can be difficult. It is therefore vital to seek professional legal advice from a medical negligence claims solicitor about making medical negligence claims. Only when the circumstances of the case have been assessed is it possible to determine whether it is possible to make medical negligence claims for compensation.

The Medical Negligence Claims Procedure

The full procedure for making medical negligence claims is best explained in detail by a specialist medical negligence claims solicitor, however a summary of the process is detailed below.

The first step is to seek legal advice on your eligibility to claim compensation, which is usually best by telephone. A medical negligence claims solicitor will be able to quickly assess your eligibility to claim compensation after listening to your account of the events which led to your injury. They will ask pertinent questions about your experience and your injuries, and this initial consultation will usually be free of charge. Following this, if a solicitor believes that you have a valid claim, they will need to meet you in person to discuss your case in detail. They will examine any evidence you have, and will take a written account which will detail everything you can remember about your injuries and exactly how they were sustained.

Following an initial consultation, proof will need to be obtained which usually starts with the response to a NHS complaint, or a coroner’s inquest in the case of a fatality. A medical negligence claims solicitor will then draft a claims letter to each potential defendant and will request a disclosure of medical records. The claims letter will give the defendant the opportunity to respond to the claim, which is usually three months after receipt of the letter. If your claim is strong, your solicitor may include an invitation to settle the case, to prevent court proceedings from being issued thus reducing the cost to the defendant.

When the defendant has responded, your solicitor may then arrange for a panel of experts to assess your case and your injuries to prove that the defendant has been negligent. It is not unusual for the defence to also require an independent examination of your injuries, which may be used to discredit any medical negligence claims.

In many cases a settlement is then reached, and compensation is awarded without litigation through the courts. However when negligence is denied, or when the claims value is high, the case is taken to the courts and a judge will decide the outcome of your medical negligence claim.

Why A Solicitor is Essential for Medical Negligence Claims

Since medical negligence claims are often highly complicated, using a specialist medical negligence claims solicitor is strongly advisable. Initially it is vital that you receive accurate legal advice on your eligibility to claim compensation. This is more important than with most personal injury compensation claims, as eligibility can depend on many factors.

You will need to be informed on the correct time scales for making a claim for compensation, as the statute of limitations can also be complex. The claim period may start from the date of the injury, or the date that the symptoms of an injury first became apparent. Even the date of knowledge of a medical error can be difficult to determine, and this can affect the time you have to make a claim. In all cases it is vital that you contact a medical negligence claims solicitor at the earliest opportunity after you discover that there has been a medical error, and you have been injured as a result.

Claims for compensation involving children who have been injured as a result of medical negligence are governed by different limitation rules, as are many head injuries which result in memory loss or mental incapacity. It is not always wise to pursue medical negligence claims immediately; however the decision to delay a claim should only ever be made after discussion with a solicitor.

Medical negligence claims are frequently made against a medical professional who has acted in the interests of the patient, and it is necessary to prove that they have shown a lack of professional skill, or have made a grave error of judgment. This is often far from straightforward. A doctor´s livelihood could well be at stake, and the medical community does not take claims of negligence lightly.

Often the defence will consult their own medical professionals to attempt to discredit a claim, as a medical negligence or medical malpractice claim can seriously affect a hospital’s reputation. Even if a claimant can find a medical professional to testify that a particular doctor has been negligent, it also needs to be proven beyond the balance of probabilities that the negligence actually caused the injury. There is often more than one method of treating a condition, and even if a doctor chose an unconventional treatment method, that in itself may not be deemed to amount to negligence.

The success rate of claimants pursuing litigation without appropriate legal council is very low, and the experience and skill of a specialist medical negligence claims solicitor can be invaluable, and will significantly increase the chances of success. A medical negligence claims solicitor will also be more likely to be able to get the full entitlement to compensation for a medical negligence victim.

Although medical negligence claims are complicated, it should not put you off seeking legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor. Only when you have had proper legal counsel can you decide whether you should proceed with any medical negligence claims.

Speak to a medical negligence solicitor about your claim