This guide on medical negligence claims will explain when you could be compensated for suffering caused by a medical professional’s mistakes. Clinical or medical negligence is when you receive substandard or incorrect treatment and you could claim compensation if that makes you ill, causes an injury or makes your existing condition worse. If you’ve suffered because of negligent surgery, a prescription error, a misdiagnosis or any other medical mistakes, you could be entitled to compensation for medical negligence.
Our specialists can help you to understand your options. When you call our team, they’ll go through your claim with you and supply free legal advice. Where the claim appears to be strong enough, you’ll be referred to a medical negligence lawyer from our team. They’ll manage your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis if it’s taken on so you won’t need to worry about paying legal fees unless you are compensated.
Please continue reading our medical negligence claims guide or call 0800 652 1345 to get free legal advice right away.
What constitutes medical negligence?
Medical negligence is a term used to describe mistakes made by medical professionals like doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons and anaesthetists that causes their patient to suffer unnecessarily.
The list below shows some of the types of medical negligence that can occur and that our panel of solicitors could help with:
- Avoidable injuries during surgical procedures.
- Medical misdiagnosis of a condition that causes delayed treatment or incorrect treatment.
- Hospital-acquired infections (MRSA, sepsis etc).
- Dental negligence resulting in gum, jaw or tooth damage.
- Avoidable birth injuries for mother or baby.
- Prescription errors where the wrong type or dose of medication is prescribed or dispensed.
- Failure to explain the risks of treatment or to consider other options.
- Late or delayed diagnosis.
- GP negligence – including failure to refer or late diagnosis.
- Hospital negligence – including misreading of results or misdiagnosis.
- Care home or hospice negligence.
Medical negligence claims are also possible for suffering caused by negligence during cosmetic procedures.
If you’ve suffered because of substandard treatment by a medical professional and you think you should be compensated, please call our claims advisors to discuss your options for free.
What are “never events”?
The phrase ‘never event’ is a term that explains when something simply should never happen because policies, procedures and safeguards are in place to prevent them. They are a form of medical negligence that could lead to a compensation claim.
Some examples of never events include:
- An operation on the wrong part of the body i.e. amputating the left arm instead of the right.
- Performing the wrong operation on a patient i.e. removing a spleen instead of a lung.
- Leaving foreign bodies like surgical equipment inside a patient after surgery.
- Where a dentist pulled the wrong tooth.
- Avoidable infections.
- Wrong route administration of chemotherapy.
In the period 1st April 2020 – 31st March 21, the NHS reported that there had been a total of 364 serious events defined as never events.
Please contact us if you have suffered following a never event and would like to find out if you could be compensated.
Can I claim compensation for medical negligence?
Our panel of medical negligence lawyers can only help with claims if there is a realistic chance that the claim will be won. To check this, they’ll need to verify whether:
- A medical professional treated you negligently. The standard of care you received was below what you could reasonably have expected; and
- Because of that negligence, you were made ill, sustained an injury or your underlying condition was made worse. This is called causation.
Most solicitors do not have any formal medical training. As such, to prove that the treatment you received was negligent, an independent medical expert will be asked to review the case by your solicitor. They’ll look at the treatment you received and whether, given the same circumstances, they’d have acted any differently to the defendant. If they report that the defendant was negligent, your solicitor may decide to proceed with your medical negligence claim.
Usually, claims are made against hospitals, NHS trusts or practices rather than the individual medical professional.
Can’t I just complain about medical negligence?
If you wish to complain about negligent medical treatment, there are various routes to do so. You can contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC), raise a formal NHS complaint or complain to the private medical facility that treated you.
The thing to bear in mind about complaints is that while they should give you some feedback about what went wrong, they wouldn’t lead to you being compensated. That’s true even if the body you complain to admits things went wrong. If that happens, your complaint may lead to an apology or a promise to make changes to prevent similar problems from occurring again.
If you do decide to make a medical negligence claim, speak to your solicitor about whether you should complain as any feedback you receive might be used to support your compensation claim.
How much compensation for medical negligence?
There is a lot to consider when making a medical negligence claim and it’s important to get it right. The amount of compensation you’ll claim will usually be based on how you’ve suffered because of medical negligence (general damages) and any financial impact the negligence has caused (special damages).
Depending on the nature of your claim, you could be compensated for:
- Initial physical pain and suffering and any ongoing symptoms.
- Distress, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems relating to your injuries.
- Any negative effect the medical negligence has had on your social life, hobbies and other usual activities.
- The cost of remedial medical treatment. This could include treatment at a private hospital.
- The cost of a professional carer or the time somebody else has devoted to supporting you.
- Travel costs like fuel costs for medical appointments required because of the medical negligence.
- Loss of income. If your injury will reduce your ability to earn in the long term, future losses of income could also be factored in.
- Lifts, hoists, ramps and other modifications to your home (and vehicle) if you’ve been left with a long-term disability.
Due to the complexity of a medical negligence claim, we believe it’s best to have a specialist solicitor on your side throughout. If your claim is accepted by one on our panel, they’ll look at both the short-term and long-term impact of your injuries and try to ensure that any settlement amount covers both.
Making a medical negligence claim for someone else
A medical negligence solicitor could also help you start a claim on behalf of somebody else if they:
- Are a child (under 18 years old); or
- Don’t have the mental capacity to claim for themselves.
In either case, the litigation friend process can be used so that you can deal with the claim on their behalf. Once you’ve applied, we’ll need to wait for approval from a court but once that’s happened, the claim will proceed as normal and you can try to secure compensation on the claimant’s behalf.
Any compensation secured by a litigation friend will be managed by a court until a) a child claimant turns 18 or b) the claimant regains their mental capacity. Funds can be released by the court if the litigation friend explains how it will help the claimant.
Fatal medical negligence
Unfortunately, some medical errors can lead to fatalities. We realise that no amount of compensation will make up for the loss of a loved one but it could help to relieve any financial pressure resulting from your loss.
If you were financially dependent on the deceased, a solicitor could help you secure compensation to cover the loss of their earnings, pension or other benefits. Also, they could seek damages to cover funeral expenses and other immediate costs. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your options with one of our friendly advisors.
Providing proof for a medical negligence claim
As discussed earlier, an independent report will be obtained to help determine whether your treatment was negligent. However, your solicitor will also need to prove how you’ve suffered as a result of that negligence. The types of proof they might use include:
- Your medical records. These can be requested if you decide to claim and can be used to check whether you were given the correct treatment and how you’ve been affected by your injuries.
- Photographs. If you’ve been left with any visible injuries such as scarring, it’s a good idea to provide before and after photographs.
- A personal statement. We suggest that you keep a diary of how your injuries following medical negligence have affected you. Try to note down any expenses you incurred and any events missed because of your injuries.
- Witness statements. Your solicitor might contact loved ones and friends and ask them to explain how you’ve changed as a result of your negligent medical treatment.
Essentially, your medical negligence solicitor will gather as much information as they can to try and prove that a breach of duty occurred that caused you to suffer and provide proof of any costs you’ve incurred as a result.
No Win, No Fee claims
As you can imagine, some medical negligence claims can involve complex medical evidence. Some can also take a long time. For example, if your child suffered an avoidable brain injury during birth, it may take a long time to fully understand how they’ll be affected for the rest of their life.
The complexity of medical negligence claims and the time they can take can be quite costly. However, please don’t let that put you off from claiming as all solicitors on our panel work on a No Win, No Fee basis for any claim they accept.
That means that they will:
- Work with the claimant (or their litigation friend) to get a full understanding of their suffering.
- Collect proof and reports (where possible) to support the claim.
- File the case with the defendant or their insurers.
- Deal with communication so the claimant doesn’t need to get involved in complicated legal or medical questioning.
- Negotiate on the claimant’s behalf and try to counter any arguments or objections.
- Try to secure the maximum settlement amount possible.
If you have any immediate financial worries, your solicitor could ask the defendant to make interim payments until the claim is finalised. These could help you to cover your loss of earnings, cover care costs or pay for private medical treatment if needed. This would only be possible in claims where the defendant had already accepted liability.
The medical negligence solicitors on our panel want to ensure that any claimant they represent is compensated fully so will always be thorough. However, they will try to be efficient as possible so that your claim is processed as quickly as possible.
Medical negligence claims time limits
In the UK, there is a 3-year time limit for any medical negligence claim. This limitation period begins on either the date you were treated or from when your condition or injury was diagnosed.
However, there are some exceptions. If the claim is for a claimant who is under 18 years old, the claim can be made at any point before they become an adult. Similarly, there is no time limit for a claimant who doesn’t have the mental capacity to represent themselves (in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005). However, a 3-year time limit would begin from the date they regained their mental capacity.
Start a medical negligence claim today
To find out if you could begin a medical negligence claim today, call us on 0800 652 1345 to have your claim assessed for free. During your call, an advisor will explain your options and provide expert advice for free.
If your claim is worked on a solicitor on our panel, you’ll be represented on a No Win, No Fee basis. That means legal fees only have to be paid at the end of the claims process if you receive a compensation payout.
Please use our live chat service if you have any further questions about the medical negligence claims process.