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A Guide to Medical Negligence Claims:
    10 Key Questions

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When it comes to making a medical negligence claim in the UK, there are likely to be many different questions that you will have with regards to a possible claim. Whether your concern is over whether you can claim, how a claim works, or how to pay for a medical negligence claim, the best way to find specific answers with regards to your claim is to contact an expert medical negligence solicitor who offers legal services.

With this in mind, the team at Hampson Hughes have put together a helpful medical negligence guide. Whether you’re looking into how to claim for medical negligence, the overall medical negligence claims process, or any other aspect of pursuing a medical negligence compensation claim, this offers an insightful starting point. For more information on 10 of the key questions related to medical negligence, read on, while to discuss your claim further, get in touch with us today.

  • What is medical negligence?

    If you have received care from a medical professional that caused an injury or made your existing condition get worse, then you may have suffered medical negligence – also known as clinical negligence – and could be due compensation.

    Medical practitioners have a duty of care to protect their patients from harm. If they fail to exercise sufficient skill, or simply exhibit a lack of care, then they expose their patients to risk. Misdiagnosis, mistakes in surgery and receiving the wrong treatment can all be grounds to pursue medical negligence claims in the UK.

    The success of medical negligence compensation claims depends on each claimant’s ability to prove that their care fell below the minimum standard expected of a medical professional. Of course, medical practitioners can get treatment wrong without being negligent.

    It is not enough to simply prove that the care was of substandard; we must also establish causation.  This means that we must demonstrate that the substandard care has caused or materially contributed to an identifiable injury.

    This is a complex process and can be particularly stressful for claimants, especially if they are still suffering from the effects of the medical negligence. That’s why it’s best to seek specialist support from medical negligence solicitors who can bring their full experience and expertise to your case.

  • What can I make a medical negligence claim for?

    Medical negligence compensation is designed to provide reimbursement for a wide range of physical injuries and psychological harm. As such, there are multiple areas in which you may have a claim. “Special damages” refer to any quantifiable financial losses such as medical care, whilst “general damages” cover issues such as pain and emotional distress.

    Your suffering itself can be reason alone to claim. This applies even if you have no enduring condition—so for instance, if you were given treatment without adequate anaesthesia. Infections, scarring and nerve damage are all possible grounds for a claim, including the emotional and psychological consequences of medical negligence.

    Long-term complications are a significant reason to make a claim following medical negligence. These include claims for ongoing treatment and any equipment or additional care you may need to treat your condition or make it more bearable. This can also extend to any costs for modifying your home (such as ramps, stairlifts, disability aids for the bathroom etc).

    The impact on your ability to make a living is also considered, and future earnings can be calculated and factored into any medical negligence compensation. If the medical negligence directly prevented you from enjoying hobbies, sports or other activities that you usually partake in, then you may also be able to claim. This is known as “loss of amenity”.

  • Which medical practitioners can be held accountable?

    All medical practitioners are subject to the same legal obligations and no practitioner is immune when it comes to medical negligence claims.

    As long as accountability can be established – by proving the practitioner failed to undertake the minimum accepted standard of care as determined by national standard setting organisations, and their actions directly caused harm – then they may be liable for a claim.

    This applies to NHS doctors and private clinics including GP practices, dentists, cosmetic surgeons and opticians.

  • Is there a time limit on a medical negligence case?

    The effects of medical negligence can last a lifetime, significantly impacting the patient’s general quality of life and affecting areas such as their physical fitness, mental wellbeing, financial prospects and life expectancy and not to mention the knock-on effect on family and loved ones.

    However, medical negligence claims are not valid indefinitely. It’s important to understand that they have an expiry. Three years from the date of the negligence is the typical time limit to make a medical negligence claim in the UK or in special cases three years from the date of when you first ought to have been aware that there was an act of negligence.

    Normally you must bring the claim as soon as possible after becoming aware of the issue. However, there are exceptions for patients under 18, with the time limit extending to three years from the date they turn 18. There may also be exceptions for those suffering from lack of capacity. It is therefore best to get in touch with a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible if you have faced a case of medical negligence.

  • What should I look for in medical negligence solicitors?

    With a limited time period in which to make your claim, it’s important that you act swiftly. The first thing to do is to engage a solicitor who will explain how to claim for medical negligence clearly and guide you through the process.

    You can choose any practising solicitor to handle your claim. But just like procuring any professional service, it’s more beneficial to consult with a specialist who has years of experience in their given field rather than a generalist who only has passing knowledge of your issue. You’ll no doubt want to ensure that your chosen solicitor has an excellent reputation and the highest level of approval from their peers in the industry.

    Here at Hampson Hughes, we have a proven track record in dealing with medical negligence claims and you will be in safe hands should you choose to instruct us. Given that you should always look for clinical negligence solicitors with the appropriate qualification and a proven track record in successfully handling claims similar to your own, we believe that this leaves us ideally placed to help you pursue your claim.

    Should you believe you have a case for a medical negligence compensation claim, your best course of action is to get in touch with us for a free initial consultation. This will allow you to discuss the details of your case with an expert in medical negligence claims, at which point we will be able to give you an honest assessment of your chances of a successful claim.

  • What proof will I need for a medical negligence claim?

    The success of your medical negligence case hinges on evidence. This means more than simply being able to demonstrate that you have a condition or injury, you will also need some level of evidence that indicates that the issue was caused by some level of medical malpractice.

    Should the legal team at Hampson Hughes take on representation of your claim, we will be here to help you gather the evidence in support of your case. We may need to obtain detailed statements from yourself, as well as family and/or friends, who can provide corroborative evidence for your claim. If you took any photographs, these can help to establish the extent of an injury and when it occurred.

    In order to prove your claim, your solicitor can obtain your medical records on your behalf, such as x-rays, ultrasounds and consultations. They will also ask one or more independent medical experts to consider whether the treatment you received was substandard and how it affected.

    When all the available evidence has been gathered, your solicitor will decide the best course of action; either seeking to negotiate a settlement or issue legal proceedings.

  • How will I pay for a medical negligence claim?

    Most claimants enter into a Conditional Fee Agreement—otherwise known as “no win, no fee”.  Under such agreements you will not have to pay any fees unless you are successful and even then you would only be required to pay a limited contribution.  The specific nature of your Conditional Fee Agreement will depend upon your unique circumstances. Although these are the most popular means of funding claims, they may not be offered to everyone.

    Your insurance policy may cover or contribute to the cost of your clinical negligence claim. Legal expenses insurance can also be taken out to cover your costs.

    Private funding is an option for those who are prepared to pay for all their legal costs. Obviously, this is only recommended for individuals who can pursue a claim confidently without worrying about paying fees, especially in the event of a lengthy process.

    Trade unions sometimes provide financial assistance to their members in the pursuit claims.

  • When does your medical negligence claim go to trial?

    In almost all cases, medical negligence claims are settled out of court. This saves you the expense of additional legal process and the stress of appearing in court.

    Usually it is in both the claimant’s and the defendant’s interests to agree suitable COMPENSATION OUT OF COURT rather than opting for the risk and uncertainty of court. This takes the form of a financial settlement, negotiated by your clinical negligence lawyers and the other side. This is where choosing the best representation really comes into play in helping to achieve the most beneficial outcome.

    Medical negligence claims don’t always end in an early settlement though. Sometimes the claimant and the defendant cannot agree on a suitable settlement and one or both parties decides to take the matter to trial. It all depends on the specific details of your case, the relevant field of medicine and any legal arguments. You should be ready for both eventualities, and your solicitor will ensure you are fully prepared to fight your claim in court to successfully claim your full medical negligence compensation.

  • How long does a medical negligence claim take?

    The typical timeframe is somewhere between 18 months and 3 years (although proceedings can sometimes extend beyond this point). It all depends on the level of injury you have sustained, how complex your complaint is and what position the defendant takes. If they strongly deny liability and causation then expect the medical negligence claim process to take longer.

    Your solicitor should support you throughout the process. This can take the form of assisting you in obtaining medical care and helping to make payments for travel costs and other expenses before your claim is resolved. Most cases are resolved before going to court – but if proceedings do begin then a trial date will be set within 12–18 months.

  • What is the average compensation for a medical negligence claim?

    Medical negligence cases range from misdiagnosed fractures to serious birth defects. Naturally, there is a huge spectrum of claims to cover the many different conditions, financial losses and forms of suffering. Damages are calculated based on the severity of your case and whether or not you can prove the full extent of each loss.

    There are general guidelines and precedents which indicate how much you may be likely to receive from a successful medical negligence compensation claim. Although it’s also worth bearing in mind that no two medical negligence cases are ever the same.

    For some cases, such as those arising from minor complications, many claimants have been awarded a few thousand pounds. For the most serious cases, with lifelong consequences, claims numbering hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds are common. In such cases, the awards may be handled via a trust to ensure the affected party received adequate compensation throughout their life (linked to inflation and changes to the cost of living).

    Due to the variables involved, it’s unwise to speculate without proper advice and consultation. You can contact our specialist medical negligence lawyers to discuss your claim and possible compensation amounts in more detail.

     

     

    We hope that you have found this guide to be a helpful summary of many of the key points related to making a medical negligence claim. The legal team at Hampson Hughes offer an extensive track record in helping clients around the UK to reach a successful outcome in their medical negligence compensation claims.

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