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Have you suffered an injury, illness or other misfortune due to medical negligence? If so, you could be entitled to receive compensation through a medical negligence claim. There are many different forms of medical negligence that exist. This guide will explain the different types of medical negligence and how you can successfully claim such incidents.
Making a personal injury claim for medical negligence may be possible if you’ve been harmed by a decision or action made by a medical professional or hospital. Read on to learn more about how medical negligence or medical malpractice in the UK is defined. We’ll also explain how claims for medical negligence claims process.
We will also discuss how medical negligence lawyers could potentially support your claim. Other topics we’ll cover include what time limits exist for a claim. Interim payments, No Win No fee claims and making claims against the NHS are other topics we’ll address in this guide.
You can contact us to get specialist advice on medical negligence claims from our panel of personal injury lawyers.
So what constitutes medical negligence in the UK? In summary, a medical professional provides substandard care to a patient, which directly causes an injury or makes an existing condition worse.
There are numerous different ways in which medical negligence can happen. Examples include incorrect treatment, surgical errors and misdiagnosis.
A medical negligence case could potentially be started against any place or professional which provides healthcare. Any medical procedure or other treatment could lead to a claim if there is evidence of negligent behaviour from the provider. Inaction or delayed action from a medical professional could also be found to be negligent.
Both NHS and private health providers can face a claim if they are guilty of medical negligence. The extensive range of potential medical negligence claims include the following:
Hospitals can provide a vast range of medical services and be a safe place to go for injured or ill patients. However, not everything always goes to plan at hospitals. A range of issues can occur within hospitals which could lead to medical negligence claims. Examples include surgical errors, hospital-acquired infections, delays in treatment, and other neglectful care by hospital staff.
Medical negligence can potentially occur when visiting your general practitioner (GP). Potential issues could include misdiagnosis, prescription errors or failures to refer you for specialist care.
A negligence claim could potentially be made if a medical device you’ve received proves to be faulty in some way. For instance, injuries could be created or aggravated by cochlear implants, defective defibrillators, metal hip replacements or knee replacements. On a similar note, a medical negligence claim could be made if drugs you’ve been given prove to be defective.
Sadly, some acts of medical negligence can ultimately result in the death of a patient. Should an act of medical negligence prove fatal, a compensation claim could potentially be started by a representative on behalf of the deceased person.
Examples of medical negligence which could prove fatal can include wrong-site surgery, incorrect surgical implant or overdose of insulin. These potential incidents and others are covered by the NHS under their Never Events policy.
There are two main types of misdiagnosis. One is an incorrect or missed diagnosis, meaning a medical professional either diagnosed you with the wrong condition or failed to notice an issue currently affecting you. The other type is the late diagnosis, which means your condition was diagnosed later than it could have been, which caused avoidable delays in receiving treatment. A misdiagnosis can have potentially serious consequences, such as preventing full recovery from a condition or creating unnecessary side effects from wrongly prescribed medication.
Any misdiagnosis could possibly lead to a compensation claim if it negatively impacts the patient. There are many potential examples, such as meningitis misdiagnosis claims, stroke misdiagnosis claims and cancer misdiagnosis claims. Misdiagnosis could also form part of sepsis negligence claims or claims for virtually any other condition.
Birth and pregnancy can be very stressful events. One reason is that any issues during these processes can have severe consequences for the mother and child involved. If a doctor, nurse or midwife falls below the usual standards of care when a mother is a pregnant or giving birth, that could lead to permanent or even fatal injuries. For instance, a child could end up with brain damage that requires round-the-clock care.
Payouts for pregnancy and birth injury claims can be huge because of the seriousness of the injuries involved. On a related note, payouts can also be significant for gynaecology negligence compensation. Gynaecologists focus on the health of the female productive system. Therefore, any negligent behaviour from a gynaecologist could seriously affect a woman’s reproductive system, and this could lead to gynaecology injury claims.
Ophthalmologists are medical professionals who specialise in treatments and diseases of the eyes. Any negligent behaviour from these types of medical experts could lead to severe issues for your eyes and eyesight. Examples can include failure to give correct advice on treatment, cataract surgery accidents or delays in identifying eye conditions.
A surgical error can refer to an operation that was unnecessary, affected the wrong part of the body or caused an object to be unintentionally left inside a person’s body. Any mistakes made during surgery can also lead to injuries and surgery compensation claims. The types of surgery that could lead to a claim is extensive. Surgeries on vital organs are just one example. Cosmetic surgeries such as abdominoplasty or tummy tuck could also lead to a lawsuit if something goes wrong. Surgery claims can include the following:
A dental negligence claim could be made if a dental health professional causes a health issue or aggravates an existing one. Examples of dental negligence which could lead to a claim include wrong tooth extraction, a delay in diagnosing a dental condition and dental misdiagnosis claims.
Cerebral palsy is a brain condition which a child could develop if there are complications before, during or just after their birth. A claim for this condition could arise when there is a failure to deliver a baby early enough or by caesarean. It may also occur if there is a failure to monitor a baby’s heartbeat or a failure to respond if the umbilical cord gets wrapped around a baby’s neck during their birth.
Am I Eligible To Make A Medical Negligence Claim?
In order to make a successful claim for medical negligence, there are a few things that need to be established:
Every healthcare provider (whether they are private or working for the NHS) owes a duty of care to their patients. It means they should take reasonable steps to ensure they maintain high standards when providing care and advice to each of their patients.
If you have good reason to believe that a healthcare provider breached their duty of care while treating you, then it is certainly worth considering a medical negligence claim. The main objective with such a claim is to prove with evidence that negligent treatment has caused you to suffer injuries/illness or made an existing condition worse.
To prove negligence occurred when receiving medical care, it may prove necessary to utilise the Bolam Test. In summary, the test aims to establish if the treating practitioner acted in a way that medical professionals in the same field would regard as below acceptable standards.
You can contact us if you’re looking for advice on making a claim for medical negligence. Our advisors can assess your potential claim and determine whether you have legitimate grounds to pursue a claim. If they believe your case has potential, then they’ll be able to connect you with a personal injury solicitor from our panel. Claims that are taken on by our panel of lawyers will be conducted on a No Win No Fee basis.
In most circumstances, a claim has to be started within three years of when a patient becomes aware of their problem. This is established by law under the Limitation Act 1980. The three-year time limit usually starts from the day when the alleged medical negligence occurred, but there can be exceptions to this rule. For instance, specific injuries or illnesses you could pick up due to negligence may not be immediately apparent. In such cases, the three-year time limit starts from whatever day your health issue first became noticeable. This is known as the ‘date of knowledge.
In other circumstances, the three-year time limit can become frozen on at least a temporary basis. If a child becomes a victim of medical negligence, then the three-year time limit does not apply to them until they reach their 18th birthday. While a patient under 18 can’t start their own claim, a representative could possibly begin a personal injury claim on behalf of a child. This type of representative is known as a litigation friend, and they could be someone close to the child, as a parent or guardian.
Another way the three-year time limit can be suspended is when a victim of medical negligence lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions. If the victim recovers sufficient mental capacity at a later date, then the three-year time limit will start on the day that occurs. Like with children, a litigation friend can make a claim for medical negligence on behalf of someone who lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions.
NHS Resolution publishes annual reports on claims made against NHS medical centres. In its 2019/20 report and accounts, it’s revealed that 11,682 new clinical claims and reported incidents were recorded in this period. Fifteen thousand five hundred fifty claims were resolved in the same period. Among those claims, 71.5% were resolved without requiring court proceedings. 27.9% of the claims involved court proceedings, and 0.6% went to trial.
It is not really feasible to use past cases as a way of determining the chances of success for your own claim. When making a claim, what matters is that you have strong evidence to prove that negligence from another party caused your injuries or illness.
If you have suffered from medical negligence, then the first priority is to get appropriate treatment for your injuries or illness. When you have sufficiently recovered following treatment, you should then start obtaining evidence if you wish to pursue a potential compensation claim. Evidence could potentially include medical records, discharge letters, photographs and statements from yourself and witnesses (such as family members).
When you’ve finished acquiring evidence, you may then wish to contact a solicitor who can support your case. We recommend choosing to consult a solicitor who has experience in handling medical negligence claims. Your chosen solicitor can review the strength of your potential case based on the facts and evidence available. If the solicitor is happy to support your case, you can then sign a contract with them. If you do so, your solicitor can help guide you through all the following steps of your claim.
Next, your solicitor will present your claim to the defendant, and they will be given a set period of time to respond. They will have to decide whether to admit or deny liability. If the defendant admits liability, then your solicitor can negotiate a settlement with the other party. If, however, the defendant denies liability, then the situation gets more complex. More evidence gathering may be required, and court proceedings may be started by your solicitor. If court proceedings are started, then negotiations with the defendant (or their legal representative) may continue. A settlement may be agreed upon before court proceedings actually get underway.
If a settlement can’t be agreed upon between you and the defendant, then it may prove necessary for your case to go to court. If it is taken that far, then the court will decide the final outcome of your case.
When you sign an agreement with a solicitor to support your claim, they may arrange for you to have a medical examination from an independent expert located in your local area. The report from an independent exam will be used as part of your evidence.
According to the NHS resolution annual report and accounts for 2019/20, there were 15,550 claims against the NHS resolved in this time period. Among these resolved claims, only 0.6% went to trial. The rest of all the cases were settled before a court trial became necessary. These figures only cover claims made against the NHS and do not factor in cases against private healthcare companies.
If you start a claim, then it is, overall, unlikely that your case will need to go to court to be settled. However, the possibility of this happening can’t be ruled out. In the majority of medical negligence claims, a settlement is agreed upon before court proceedings are started. Even if your solicitor starts court proceedings, your solicitor and the defendant’s legal representatives will likely continue negotiations during this time. A settlement figure may be agreed upon between your solicitor and the defendant before court proceedings begin properly. However, it is up to you whether you accept any offer of settlement.
The amount of time it takes for a medical negligence personal injury claim to settle depends on several factors. These include the severity of your injuries or illness and whether the private or NHS healthcare provider involved accepts liability or not. If your injuries aren’t severe and the defendant quickly accepts liability, then your claim may be resolved within 6 to 12 months. If the defendant denies liability or there are serious injuries involved, then a claim can take much longer to resolve.
The amount of compensation you could receive if you successfully claim for medical negligence can vary substantially. The type of injuries you have and how severe and life-changing they are playing major parts in deciding your payout. Compensation paid out for your injuries are classed as general damages. This includes payouts for physical injuries, illnesses and mental suffering that’s directly linked to the medical negligence you’ve suffered.
In the table below, we’ve included estimated payouts that could be provided for general damages following medical negligence claims. The figures come from the Judicial College guidelines. Solicitors may use these figures during a personal injury claim to help work out the amount of compensation they are owed.
In addition to receiving compensation for injuries and illness under general damages, medical negligence claims may also provide money for special damages. Compensation for special damages covers financial losses which can be directly linked to the injuries and illnesses you’ve suffered due to negligence. Examples of expenses or other financial losses which could be covered under special damages include the following:
In order to successfully claim for special damages, it is important to retain evidence of expenses and other financial losses. Make sure to keep a hold of receipts or invoices for any treatments or use of public transport which are relevant to your case.
If you can prove that you’ve been harmed due to negligent behaviour by the NHS, then you could be entitled to claim compensation from the organisation. Whether you’ve been harmed by a medical professional or hospital which is privately run or part of the NHS, the main goal with a claim remains the same. You want to establish in your claim that a healthcare provider has breached their duty of care towards you through negligent behaviour. You also want to prove that the breach in the duty of care is directly related to injuries and illnesses you’ve suffered as a result.
When a claim is made against an NHS hospital or personnel, they are represented by the organisation’s legal division, which is called NHS Resolution (NHSR). All claims made against the NHS are maintained on a database by NHS Resolution. This database includes recorded incidents which haven’t led to legal action yet, but the patient involved has indicated that they intend to claim.
In one previous case settled in December 2020, an NHS trust agreed to pay millions to a child who suffered brain damage soon after birth. Medics at a Hull hospital were negligent after a boy collapsed and nearly died within days of his birth from an undiagnosed condition. The medics allegedly failed to observe the potential consequences of the boy’s reluctance to feed. This led to his collapse due to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and the boy suffered brain damage as a consequence. While caring for the boy, medics allegedly failed to recognise his lethargy and floppiness, which are common signs of hypoglycemia.
The boy, who has cerebral palsy and requires 24-hour care, has drug-resistant epilepsy, severely impaired vision and is unable to communicate verbally or otherwise. The boy’s parents made a medical negligence claim against the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which admitted liability and settled. In addition to the lump sum of £2.7 million in compensation, the boy will receive tax-free annual payments to cover the costs of his care for life.
In another past case, which was settled in May 2021, a former Labour Party official from Beverley was paid £950,000 after suffering a life-changing stroke which hospital medics missed “several obvious opportunities” to prevent. Alan Ablett suffered a stroke in October 2014 after doctors failed to prescribe blood-thinning medication during hospital visits in the six weeks prior to the attack. The medicine would have prevented the stroke from happening.
Mr Ablett first visited a GP after returning from a holiday when he noticed his speech slurring. He also observed he had been dropping things and was feeling weak. Following the appointment, Mr Ablett suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, and he was admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary (HRI). He was discharged a week later without being given any blood-thinning medication.
During the six-week period leading up to his stroke, Mr Ablett was admitted twice and made four other trips to the hospital. He suffered a series of mini-strokes before he was finally given blood-thinning medication. Mr Ablett said he had to give up his role as local Labour Party chairman due to the effects of his stroke. Those effects include issues with his balance and eyesight. A negligence claim was made against Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which initially denied that failing to prescribe blood-thinning medication contributed to Mr Ablett’s stroke immediately. However, the trust later admitted liability and agreed to pay damages.
Before reporting your medical negligence to anyone else, it may be wise first to file a complaint against the provider of your healthcare. This can be done whether you received treatment from a private service or the NHS. Depending on the circumstances, a complaint could resolve your issue quickly without needing to start a personal injury claim.
If you want to make a complaint about treatment received from the NHS, then you could consider using the NHS complaints procedure. You may decide to pursue a compensation claim anyway after making a complaint to the NHS. However, an investigation into your complaint could at least provide some helpful information about the issue you’re concerned about.
If you have a complaint about a private healthcare provider, then it’s usually best to submit your complaint to the provider first. If you remain dissatisfied even after complaining directly to the NHS or a private company, then there are different regulatory bodies you could send your complaint to. Options include the General Medical Council (GMC), the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS).
Some injuries which can be caused by medical negligence can be severe and life-changing. They could potentially prevent the victim from working either in the short-term or long-term. This could have a significant impact on the victim’s finances. If such circumstances apply to you, it may be possible to apply for interim payments as part of your claim.
Interim payments are made in advance of the final compensation award in order to support the claimant financially. They could allay any fears you may have about keeping up with bills or other expenses while your claim is being resolved. Any interim payments you do receive will be deducted from the overall compensation given out at the end of your case.
Are you considering making a medical negligence claim? We can support you by offering you free specialist advice and a free case check.
Our advisors can use their knowledge of these types of cases to determine the strength of your claim. If they choose that you have substantial grounds to pursue a claim, they can then connect you with a personal injury solicitor from our panel. Claims that are taken on by a solicitor from our panel will be conducted on a No Win No Fee basis. Our panel of lawyers have access to an extensive network of medical experts who can arrange appointments in your local area to progress your claim.
If you have a query along the lines of ‘medical negligence solicitors near me’, then we are happy to help you out. We can potentially support your claim by evaluating it and putting in touch with No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitors from our panel. If you agree to have a solicitor help your case on a No Win No Fee basis, then you should enjoy several financial benefits. These can include the following:
Following a successful personal injury claim, your No Win No Fee solicitor will subtract a small percentage of your compensation to cover their fees. This is standard practice for No Win No Fee agreements.
Our advisers are on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days per week to help you with your clinical negligence case.