Claiming for Medical Negligence

If we are injured or unwell we put our trust in health professionals to not only discover what our ailment is, but how to cure it.  However, sometimes medical professionals get it wrong, which can lead to patient’s suffering further damage or even death. This guide is designed to help people understand what constitutes medical negligence and what to do if they believe they have been a victim of it.

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence occurs when a health professional who owes you a duty of care breaches that duty and causes you damage.

How do I know if my doctor owes me a duty of care?

Health professionals owe all patients who they treat directly or indirectly a duty of care.  For example, a pathologist who is examining the test results of a patient owes that patient a duty of care even if he or she has never met them.

What are some examples of a breach of duty?

Examples of a health professional breaching a duty of care include:

  • misdiagnosing an illness
  • prescribing the wrong medicine
  • failure to warn a patient of the risks associated with a particular procedure
  • preforming surgery incorrectly
  • delaying a referral to a specialist
  • not obtaining consent before preforming an operation

Can I claim compensation for medical negligence?

If you can prove that your doctor or some other health professional acted below the standard that would be expected of someone in their position dealing with similar circumstances, and this caused you harm, then you may be able to claim compensation.

How will I prove this?

Your solicitor may send you for an independent medical examination and call expert witnesses to establish the standard of care the health professional in your case should have met.  They will also examine your medical notes and history.

Will the doctor or hospital have to apologise to me?

Not necessarily; however, most solicitors who work with medical negligence claims understand how important an apology can be to a victim and will work hard to obtain one for their client.

What if I cannot afford to pay for a lawyer?

Most personal injury solicitors offer a no win, no fee arrangement.  This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not pay anything to your solicitor.  If you win your case, your solicitor will take an agreed percentage of the compensation you receive as their fee.

Will I need to go to court?

A majority of medical negligence claims settle outside of the courtroom.  In the unlikely event that you are required to attend trial, your solicitor will give you plenty of notice and ensure that you are supported through the process.

How much time do I have to make a claim for medical negligence?

You must make a claim for compensation within three years from the date you first suffered the harm.  For children, a claim must be made before his or her 21st birthday.

Medical negligence can be a traumatic event and compensation can assist suffers in rebuilding their lives and paying for any necessary rehabilitation expenses.


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