Medical negligence occurs when a health care professional or provider neglects to provide an appropriate patient treatment, gives substandard treatment, or omits to take an appropriate action that causes harm, injury, or death to a patient. No two cases are the same, and the damage inflicted can vary from minor to life-changing and may even be fatal in extreme cases.
The burden of proof and complexity means they can frequently take years to settle. What’s more, the medical negligence claims process varies between the private healthcare and NHS providers. However, a medical negligence claim is the first thing you need to think about if anything has happened to you after medical intervention.
Steps to prove medical negligence
The four Ds are the types of evidence your attorney must prove in a medical negligence case in order to succeed. We outlined what these are and what they mean in your medical negligence claim below.
Your negligence claim solicitor must demonstrate that a relationship between a medical professional or a healthcare provider relationship existed. Establishing this detail confirms that a medical provider or professional owes a duty to look after you for the duration of your treatment.
If you’ve suffered physical or psychological pain as a result of their action or inaction, then the medical practitioner has breached that duty and can be liable as a result. In reality, evidence of duty is as simple as medical records that confirm that the medical provider or professional was treating you.
Dereliction occurs when a medical practitioner, be that person a medical provider, assistant or doctor, accidentally or deliberately fails to follow the principal standards of care set by profession and a patient suffers harm as a result.
For example, a patient develops a complication or infection due to an unhygienic working environment. Other examples include prescribing the wrong treatment or performing unauthorized procedures. Dereliction is often described as a deviation from the acceptable standards of care.
The direct cause is a medical professional’s specific action or inaction that directly caused the injury or harm to the patient in their care—for instance, operating the wrong person or the wrong body part because they misinterpret the notes. Other examples of direct cause include misprescription of medicine, misdiagnosis, having a medical item inside a patient post-surgery, and causing avoidable disfigurement or scarring.
Damages refer to the psychological, physical, and financial impact the direct cause (action or inaction) of medical harm has had on your life. The figures will be calculated by your solicitor based on injury compensation guidelines proposed by the Ministry of Justice. They are also backed by valuable evidence such as medical records, expert witness testimony, prescription records, and the cost of corrective treatment.
What Amount of Compensation Should You Expect from a Medical Negligence Case?
Giving a precise estimate of compensation that should be provided in a case of medical negligence can be difficult. And there’s no wonder why. There are many aspects that are unique to each case to take into consideration.
Medical negligence takes different forms, and every case of negligence may be different from the next. Also, it affects patients in different ways. So, no two medical or clinical cases are alike; therefore, compensation is valued based on how much suffering the claimant experienced.
Pro tip: Don’t just rely on medical negligence compensation calculators online, be wary that some of their figures can be misleading or inaccurate. It’s crucial to remember that the amounts you find may relate to other cases that have fundamental differences from your own.
Your solicitor will have a more specific idea of what the claim amount will be worth after they’ve examined the evidence and opened negotiations with the other side.
Time Limits for Making a Medical Negligence Claim
The medical negligence claim time limit is almost the same as for other cases of personal injury cases. As such:
- A patient is offered three years from the diagnosis or incident of the harm caused, whichever happened first.
- If you’re legally representing someone whose physical or psychological ability is so compromised, they can’t claim themselves; there are no time limits. That’s due to the medical negligence incident itself or because of a pre-existing condition.
- For minors and children of any age under 18 at the time of the medical misconduct, you can make a claim on their behalf any time up to their 18th birthday.
Medical Negligence Claim Duration
These types of claims are often difficult and can take a few good years or more to settle. Medical negligence cases require detailed investigation and a strong burden of proof across the Four Ds: duty, dereliction, direct cause, and damages.
No medical negligence case is alike and therefore is difficult to predict. However, what’s premise is that the more demanding a claim is, the longer the case will take to settle.
Claim duration is also influenced by how and when the other side responds. The sooner they receive their notice, the faster things will be disputed in a medical negligence claim.
Why Should You Make One?
There are two reasons why filling a medical negligence claim can help and why it’s crucial to do so if you have good grounds. These cases can completely transform someone’s life and not in a good way. The collateral damage spreads faster when there’s a family involved.
In severe cases, there’s the emotional burden of caring and worrying for a loved one. If the patient happens to be the main breadwinner, then the financial pressure can become very hard to bear. An effective medical negligence claim should help victims get through difficult times with interim payments.
Before you go or before taking any critical decision, talk to a professional medical negligence solicitor about your experience. If you’re eligible to make a claim, then you should get in touch with a solicitor who’s right for you and able to handle your claim effectively by email or phone.