Negligence can take many forms, but it always causes wide-ranging effects. The highly skilled and dependable solicitors at Foys are here to shed some light on what negligence is, offer advice on how to prove negligence and tell you how Foys Solicitors can help.
What is negligence
To be ‘negligent’ is to have failed to take reasonable care to avoid injury or loss to another person. The responsible party would normally have had a duty of care to the other person and did not meet the standards of that care. All workplaces, medical organisations and businesses have a legal obligation or duty of care to ensure that persons within their establishment are fully protected against physical or emotional harm. To have been a victim of negligence is to have suffered an injury or loss which they could not avoid, at no or little fault of their own.
If you have been involved in an accident, and it was the direct result of the negligent actions of someone else, you could claim compensation. The objective of the compensation is to alleviate your suffering and give you a chance to focus on recovery and rehabilitation. The compensation usually covers loss of income, payment for current and ongoing medical treatment, psychological damage and medical equipment. To receive compensation, you must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was directly responsible for any losses incurred.
Donoghue v. Stevenson – the original negligence case
Claims for compensation against doctors or businesses for negligence was all but unheard of before the early 20th century. But in 1932, a case appeared that defined negligence laws still applied in court today. The case in question was that of Donoghue v. Stevenson, and strangely enough, it was started by a bottle of ginger beer.
In 1932, Mrs Donoghue visited a café where her friend bought her a ginger beer in a dark, opaque bottle. They had no reason to suspect that the bottle contained anything other than the said ginger beer. Donoghue had consumed most of the contents of the bottle before noticing a snail, in a state of decomposition, floating in the bottle. In consequence, Donoghue suffered considerable shock and nausea, as well as serve gastro-enteritis.
Donoghue sought to claim against the beverage manufacturer, Mr Stevenson, and asserted that the defender should have exercised the greatest care in ensuring the ginger beer was safe for human consumption. It also stated that it was an obvious duty of the manufacturer to provide clear coloured ginger beer bottles to facilitate inspection. Stevenson pleaded that Donoghue’s claims were insufficient due to the fact that the drink had been bought for her by her friend.
This case, deceptively simple, was a benchmark in modern negligence law, prompting the establishment of three things you need to legally prove negligence. They are as follows:
- That you were owed a legal duty of care under the circumstances
- That the defendant breached this duty of care by failing to uphold certain standards
- That you were harmed or injured as a direct result of that breach
Though the case never went to court, Donoghue was found to fit into all of these requirements and was paid £200 in compensation.
Types of negligence
Negligence can take many forms and go through many avenues of law. Common forms of negligence include but not limited to:
- Medical negligence (or clinical negligence) – substandard care from a medical professional that resulted in injury or worsening of an existing condition.
- Legal negligence – poor legal representation or incorrect legal advice.
- Accountant negligence – negligent behaviour of an accountant or financial advisor that resulted in loss of finances or income.
- Architectural negligence – failure of architect, engineer or firm to adhere to regulations, to provide accurate architectural advice or to properly oversee a project.
- Real estate agents or surveyors negligence – failure to provide accurate reports that form the basis of property transfer.
How do you prove negligence?
For a negligence claim to succeed and result in compensation, it is necessary to establish that a duty of care was breached and that the claimant’s (person making a claim) loss was caused directly by this breach.
When it comes to claiming for compensation as a result of negligence, having accurate and documented evidence is vital. Let’s take medical negligence (one of the most common claims) for example. If you are seeking a medical negligence claim, we will work with you to:
- Discuss your case in detail
- Assess if professional 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
During the process, our medical negligence solicitors will work with you every step of the way so you are fully informed. No matter the circumstances, we can help you understand the process of medical negligence compensation claims. Our supportive and efficient solicitors also work to ensure the best chance of success.
Another factor that influences a compensation claim is the financial effects negligence has upon you and your family. Financial loss such as missed work and loss of business should be considered when making a compensation claim, as well as any long-standing health effects (ongoing counselling, rehabilitation, mental health issues, to name but a few).
Types of compensation
If your case is successful and the involved parties come to a decision, you should be paid compensation. There are two types of compensation – General (compensation related to direct effects of the negligence) and special (compensation related to any out-of-pocket expenses).
For more information on the types of compensation you could receive, take a look at our informative Professional Medical Negligence Solicitors page. If you have suffered an injury at work or in a public area which was not your fault, contact our highly skilled personal injury solicitors for more information on the best route to compensation.
How much compensation you receive depends on a multitude of factors. We caution our clients to be wary of solicitors promising astronomical figures because it is impossible to predict an exact figure without having a qualified solicitor reviewing the ins-and-outs of your case. So contact one of our solicitors as soon as possible, give us a chance to review, advise and guide you on the best route possible to get the compensation you deserve.
Time limits for making a negligence claim
It is essential that you start the claims process the moment you know an incident has taken place. This is because you have three years to file professional negligence claims. Additionally, when things are fresh in your mind, it is easier to gather the necessary evidence.
Having said that, sometimes the effects of the negligence are not realised until years later. In this instance, you may start your case from the ‘date of knowledge’ as specified in Limitation Act 1980.
How long will a negligence case take?
It depends on how complex your case is. In some cases, we seek to resolve the case through mediation (and thereby saving your time and money) or work to reach an out-of-court settlement. If the case goes to court, it could take anything from 12 to 36 months.
What about personal injury?
Negligence can also occur at work, on the road and in various places, resulting in personal injury. For example, you slipped and fell at work or in a supermarket, or you suffer from an injury caused by faulty goods. The upshot of it is that you can claim compensation. For more information, please visit our personal injury page.
Foys Solicitors can help
At Foys, we understand how frustrating and upsetting negligence can be, both for yourself and your family.
If you have a medical negligence case or a personal injury case, contact us today. Our solicitors approach every case with the highest respect and work relentlessly to represent you and help you attain the compensation you deserve.
Our medical negligence solicitors can help in:
- Gynaecology/Obstetrics/Birth Cases
- Hospital cases
- Claims related to residential care
- Medical misdiagnosis
- Private cosmetic surgery
- Fatal accidents
Our personal injury solicitors can help in:
- Road traffic accidents
- Accidents at work
- Slips and trips
- Serious injuries and fatal injuries
- Neglect and abuse claims
- Criminal injuries
- Injuries caused by faulty goods
We’ll do everything in our power to help you win your case and get you the compensation you deserve. For an initial free consultation, contact your local Foys office today.
We can begin to understand your case and offer some advice on the likelihood of its success. Alternatively, fill out our handy Online Form.
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