Medical Negligence Claim Process Explained
For all medical negligence claims in the UK, you need to prove that:
- Treatment or care fell below a reasonable standard (called breach of duty); and
- Unacceptable treatment or care has caused avoidable damage and loss.
After taking on your case, our Medical Negligence Solicitors would need to access and review copies of all medical records before obtaining independent medical evidence from an appropriate medical expert of particular discipline. With this, we can consider whether:
- The clinical/medical treatment you received was substandard
- You’ve suffered avoidable injuries and ultimately losses as a result of that treatment.
It is on the basis of the expert medical opinion that we can assess whether or not a medical negligence claim for compensation can proceed further.
We also have to look at the position in the future and the Claimant’s condition and prognosis. In some medical negligence cases, we only have to instruct one medical expert, but in others, we have to instruct more than one, especially if the medical condition is complex or the claim is difficult.
For free legal advice get in touch with our Medical Negligence Solicitors. We may be able to deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis – ask us for details.
Medical Negligence Compensation
There are two components to medical negligence compensation:
- General Damages – for the injury and damage caused, pain, suffering and loss of amenity which was avoidable but for the negligence
- Special Damages – financial losses incurred as a result of the negligence such as for loss of earnings, out of pocket and other expenses
In many medical negligence cases, the special damages are a substantial part of the overall award, particularly if care and loss of earnings are included. These are considered both for the past and the future. In catastrophic injury cases, consideration is given to many different aspects of future needs, such as the Claimant’s future housing requirements and whether occupational therapy, rehabilitation and care support is necessary.
NHS Complaints Procedure
In cases where the complaint or medical negligence claim isn’t necessarily clear cut, one step that can be taken to assess the matter would be to complain through the NHS Complaints procedure. This may resolve any concerns you have, and if not, should result in a reasoned response. This should in turn help our Solicitors assess whether legal action would then be appropriate.
The Department of Health has issued guidelines on using the NHS Complaints procedure and the steps to be taken. Essentially, you have the right to:
- Have your complaint investigated
- Refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you aren’t happy with the outcome of your complaint
- Make a claim for judicial review
- Receive compensation
You should complain to the NHS healthcare provider within 12 months of the date of the negligence or incident or the date you became aware that there was a problem. Once you’ve received the outcome of your complaint, the next step would be to get independent legal advice, with a view to making a medical negligence claim.
When it comes to claiming compensation, you must act within three years of when the negligence or incident happened, or three years from when you became aware of it. If the latter date can’t be identified, you should assume the three-year period starts from the date that the medical negligence occurred.
If you’re claiming following the death of another person who died as a result of medical negligence, you have 3 years from the date of their death in which to take legal action.
The Courts do have the power to alter the time limits, and may do so in some cases, but this discretion isn’t often exercised.
In some medical negligence cases, after the other side has admitted liability or partial liability, it may be possible for an interim payment of compensation to be awarded to the Claimant before the case has reached final settlement. If this becomes the case with your claim your Medical Negligence Solicitor will advise you.
In one particular case the cumulative sum of interim payments reached was substantial, see £1.4million in Interim Payments for Medical Negligence Claim.
If you have any concerns about pursuing a medical negligence claim or making a NHS complaint, then please contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free consultation.
For free legal advice call our Medical Negligence Solicitors
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.