Making a Medical Negligence Claim
Medical Negligence Solicitors
Our solicitors are experts in medical negligence [or clinical negligence as it is also known] claims. Denise Broomfield is a member of both Law Society Clinical Negligence and AvMA (Action v Medical Accidents) panels with 15 years experience of medical negligence claims covering all areas of medical accidents. Our solicitors act for clients in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire and throughout England and Wales.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence) is substandard care by a medical professional (including doctors, dentists, midwives, nurses, radiographers and other health workers) ie medical treatment that has gone wong. We will just refer to “doctor” as the majority of medical negligence claims are against doctors.
The legal test when making a medical negligence claim is whether or not the medical treatment given to a patient was of the standard that a reasonably competent doctor practising in that particular field of medicine should have given.
How do I prove my doctor was negligent?
To decide whether your medical treatment was negligent, our solicitors obtain your full medical records and send them to an independent doctor. This doctor reviews your notes, and if necessary your statement, and indicates whether the medical treatment was reasonable. If the independent doctor agrees that your treatment was substandard, your case moves to the next stage.
Causation of medical negligence claims
In medical negligence compensation claims it is often not difficult to prove that the standard of medical care was substandard. It is much harder to prove that the substandard care affected the final outcome. Most people who go to a doctor or a hospital have a pre-existing medical condition. Some complications which arise are just genuine complications of the original condition. For example, if a person admitted to hospital with a finger injury following a work accident has their finger amputated, they may think that better medical treatment may have allowed them to keep the finger. However finger injuries are very difficult to treat and amputation is often necessary, regardless of the medical care.
To prove your injuries were caused by substandard medical care, we need an independent doctor’s opinion.
Doctors stick together – will the independent doctor really help my claim?
Our medical negligence solicitors are very careful in choosing doctors to act as experts. We have a large database of doctors who help victims of medical accidents and check that your expert does not know the doctors who treated you.
Will the independent doctor need to examine me?
This will depend on the nature of your injury. Many independent doctors prepare a report just from your medical records first – as we are asking the doctor to look back at treatment you had, and the best record of this is in your medical records. Some doctors need to examine you at this early stage of your compensation claim. If your case proceeds and you end up bringing a Court action, you will definitely need a medical examination.
If the independent doctor says I have a claim, what happens next?
First our colicitors write to the hospital or doctor concerned saying why we think you have a claim. They must reply within 3 months saying whether they admit responsibility for your injury or not.
If they do not accept responsibility for your medical injury, we may need to start Court action. Our medical negligence solicitors will explain if your compensation claim is likely to be successful and how your case will proceed.
How much compensation will I recover?
Compensation for medical negligence claims is split into three categories:
- Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (ie damages for your physical injury)
- Damages for your out of pocket expenses (also called special damages) including lost earnings, hospital travel costs, care by your family, prescriptions and over the counter medicines. Please keep receipts, and keeping a diary can also be useful as it is always hard to remember these things as your case progresses
- Future expenses. If your claim is large, you may be able to claim future lost earnings, the cost of adapting your house or car, and future costs of someone caring for you
A member of my family has died as a result of poor medical treatment – can I still claim?
Family members can claim if a husband, wife, co-habitee of more than 2 years standing, child or someone else on whom they were financially dependent has died following a medical accident. There is a £11,800 standard bereavement payment. Further, if the deceased contributed financially to the upkeep of family members (eg the family breadwinner died leaving a partner and children), those relatives can also make a “dependency claim”.
Time limits for medical negligence claims
Normally a claim must be brought within three years of the injury. If a child is injured then the three years runs from their 18th birthday.
In medical negligence claims, sometimes symptoms appear later, sometimes years later. In these cases the three year period runs from the date when the injury was discovered and was linked to previous medical treatment.
Limitation is a difficult area in medical negligence and we suggest that you take legal advice from a specialist solicitor as soon as you think you have had a medical accident.
Funding a medical negligence claim
You can fund your claim as follows:
- Legal expenses insurance (which may be attached to your household or car insurance)
- Public funding (formerly Legal Aid). We have a medical negligence franchise and represent clients using Public Funding
- No win no fee agreements. We enter into “no win no fee” arrangements for most medical negligence compensation claims
- You pay privately
Our solicitors can discuss funding with you at the FREE first interview.
At your appointment our solicitors will need to have:
- Details of your full name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and marital status
- Copies of ID, preferably containing a photograph (ie a modern driving licence or passport), and a recent utility bill confirming your address
- The date of your accident
- Details of when you realised that there might have been a problem with your medical treatment, if this is later
- The name of the NHS Trust treating you and your Consultant’s name
- A summary of the condition you went to hospital with
- A summary of why you think your treatment went wrong
- A quick summary of any financial expenses you have incurred, eg lost earnings, travel to hospital, prescription charges and the cost of somebody looking after you
- Copies of any correspondence with any doctors treating you or the hospital
- Anything else which you think is relevant to your accident
It’s important to take legal advice from our Solicitors as soon as possible after your accident – time limitation periods apply and it’s often easier investigating your compensation claim if you take early legal advice. At your first free interview with us, our medical negligence Solicitors will tell you whether your accident compensation claim is worth pursuing.
Home/Hospital visits are available for clients with serious injuries. Our clinical negligence Solicitors can see you in our Salisbury, Andover, Amesbury or Verwood offices and we have interviewing facilities in West Dorset.