Medical negligence claims in England

Medical negligence (aka clinical negligence) happens when a medical professional, hospital or a medical facility fails to exercise an expected standard of care, resulting in injury, damage or loss.

Most doctors and nurses, either they are with the NHS or serving privately-run clinics and hospitals, exercise a high level of care to their patients. But inevitably, there are occasions when they make mistakes – and some of these mistakes can negatively affect your lives for many years to come.

Just look at the media and it is easy to find news relating to medical negligence. Some real and upsetting headlines include:

  • Another person died after ‘Brazilian butt lift’
  • Botox party mishap left woman housebound
  • Son left severely disabled after medical treatment went wrong
  • Boy sustained life-changing injuries during birth

Broadly speaking, medical negligence can include but not limited to:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to get informed consent to treatment
  • Failure to provide the appropriate treatment
  • Surgical errors
  • Failure to warn patients about the risks of a particular treatment
  • Prescribing wrong medications
  • Incorrectly reporting on test results

The upshot of it is that when medical professionals provide care that falls below acceptable standards, patients suffer. If you are affected by medical negligence, talk to one of our medical negligence solicitors today, give us a chance to review your case and discuss your options with you.

To make a medical negligence claim, you must prove that:

  • There was negligent
  • The negligence caused an injury or harm that would not have occurred otherwise

The two points above can make or break a case. In other words, if you have not suffered physical, psychological and/or financial harm as a result of negligent treatment, you cannot make a medical negligence claim. For example, if the attending doctor had made a wrong diagnosis but corrected themselves two minutes later while you were still in the room, you cannot make a medical negligence claim because in this ‘medical accident’ or ‘patient safety incident’, you have not suffered any harm. If that has happened to you, the best option is to make a formal complaint to the management.

Why pursue a medical negligence claim

A medical mistake can leave you with life-altering injuries, limiting your ability to work and affecting your mental wellbeing. At Foys, we believe that no one should have to suffer and endure the repercussions of someone else’s negligence, which is why we take time to listen to you, review your case, and give you an honest preliminary assessment so you know if your case has the best chance of success. When you are ready to take things forward, we are here with you every step of the way, from engaging expert witness to discussing options (like mediation or an out-of-court settlement).

We work hard to secure you the compensation you deserve because the money will help to alleviate your suffering to a great extent by:

  • Paying for ongoing and future treatments
  • Paying for extra care or equipment that you may need
  • Paying for adapting your home
  • Compensation for the loss of earnings
  • Compensation for psychological damage
  • Compensation for physical limitations

If your compensation claim is successful, you may be offered two types of compensation and they are known as general damages and special damages.

General damages

General damages aim to compensate you for the pain and suffering (physically and emotionally) that you have sustained as a result of the negligence. They can include:

  • Physical injury, pain and suffering (e.g. chronic pain, limited mobility, disability, etc.)
  • Mental pain and suffering (e.g. mental health problems, ongoing trauma, worsening of mental illnesses, etc.)
  • A loss in quality of life (e.g. physical and mental challenges affecting everyday life, career opportunities and hobbies)
  • A loss of career (if you had to change careers as a result of your injury, then you are entitled to damages for the loss of your unique career)
  • Employment issues (if you cannot get another job as a result of the negligence)
  • A loss of companionship (if a loved one suffered wrongful death as a result of negligence, you are entitled to make a claim)

Special damages

Special damages aim to compensate you for your out-of-pocket expenses. They can include:

  • Loss of income (e.g. if your salary was cut, you missed out on monetary bonuses or other special perks, etc.)
  • Short-term medical costs (e.g. hospital charges, consultation fees, medication, etc.)
  • Long-term medical costs (e.g. physiotherapy, specialist treatment, mobility aids, etc.)
  • Transportation fees (e.g. car costs, taxi fees, bus or train fares, etc.)
  • Loss of capacity for earning (if you are forced to take a lower-paying job as a result of the negligence, you can also make a special damages claim)

How do you prove medical negligence?

For a medical negligence claim to result in compensation, you (the claimant) must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a duty of care was breached and that you have suffered injury, damage or loss because of this breach.

Here is an example of a successful medical negligence case – Claimant A underwent laser eye surgery to correct her vision problems. The procedure went terribly wrong and as a result, the patient developed complications. In this case, Claimant A could prove that the negligent procedure had taken place. As a result, Claimant A suffered damage to tear ducts and chronic eye inflammation – not an underlying eye condition, but something she would not have suffered if the laser eye surgery had not taken place. Claimant A proceeded to seek financial compensation and corrective treatment. The clinic agreed to pay and they reached an out-of-court settlement.

Having accurate and documented evidence is vital when it comes to making a medical negligence claim. Apart from you keeping good records of all the key events leading to and after the alleged negligence, your full medical records will also be submitted to independent medical experts who will review and provide a detailed report.

Additionally, you must also demonstrate any emotional (mental health issues, counselling, impacts of trauma) and financial (loss of income, medical costs, cost of medical equipment) impacts from the negligence. Working with you, our medical negligence solicitors are here to:

  • Discuss your case in detail
  • Assess if processional care of duty has been breached
  • Assess your chances of success
  • Request your full medical history
  • Engage independent medical experts to review your records
  • Obtain expert witness testimony
  • Prepare accurate events that led to you suffering the injury or worsening of a condition
  • Start proceedings

How long do you have to make a medical negligence claim?

In general, you have to take legal action within three years of the alleged negligence.

In some cases, when the effects of negligence are not known until years later, you may be able to make a claim three years on from the ‘date of knowledge’ (as specified in the Limitation Act 1980).

Can you bring proceedings against a doctor/clinic overseas?

With the rise of medical tourism, more and more Brits are now seeking treatment abroad. When the treatment went wrong, most people would sue in the country where the treatment had taken place. Having said that, they have been cases where patients could sue in England against a doctor or clinic overseas, provided that they had reasons to do so. As every case is unique, we should review your case before commenting.

Medical negligence solicitors in South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire

If you are affected by medical negligence, you need some closure – it could be the attending medical professional provides corrective treatment free of charge or you are awarded compensation for the damage they have caused.

So gather your medical evidence and come to discuss it with one of our medical negligence solicitors. Doing so will allow us to review your case, give you an initial assessment and discuss your options with you. When you have all the information presented to you, you can make informed decisions accordingly. With years of experience handling a wide range of medical and health-related cases, we are well-positioned to advise, represent and also negotiate on behalf of you.

We can support you through a range of medical negligence issues, including:

  • Gynaecology/obstetrics/birth cases
  • Other hospital cases including orthopaedics and general surgery
  • GP, dental and optical cases
  • Claims relating to residential care
  • Fatal accidents
  • Private cosmetic surgery
  • Medical misdiagnosis

For an initial free consultation, contact your local Foys office today.

Alternatively, fill out our handy Online Form.

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