Clinical or Medical negligence; do you have a legal claim?

Written by: Keoghs Solicitors

Date: 21st February 2013

When we need medical advice or treatment, we place our trust in medical experts. We usually get the right advice and treatment, but sadly, mistakes can be made and the consequences can be serious.

Have you or someone you know been injured as the result of medical or dental treatment, which you believe fell below the standard to be expected?

Some examples:

Incorrect treatment

Incorrect diagnosis

Important symptoms ignored

A delay in diagnosis or treatment

Failure of a medical product or device

Prescribing or administering the wrong drug or the right drug at an incorrect dosage

Making a mistake during your operation or procedure

Failing to warn you about the risk  associated with your treatment

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury as a result of medical advice or treatment, then this does not mean that the treatment received was necessarily negligent. It may be that the incident that caused injury, could not have been avoided.

However, where it can be shown that on the balance of probability, your treatment fell below the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent doctor, hospital or dentist, you may have a claim for compensation. In addition you will need to show that the negligence caused the injury.

Time limits on making a claim

Legal action must be taken within 3 years of the date you first knew, or could reasonably have been expected to know, that you have suffered an injury caused through somebody else’s fault. For children, the 3 year limit does not apply until their 18th birthday so potentially they can claim at any point up to their 21st birthday.

What should I do if I feel I have been injured due to clinical or medical negligence?

We recommend that you seek advice from a specialist clinical negligence solicitor, as a clinical negligence claims are almost always complicated. We advise you to do so as soon as possible. We can advise you about speaking to the clinician or care provider, to ask for a full explanation as to what happened during the treatment. We will also consider with you whether (and if so how) to ask for an apology. This information can be obtained informally but some care organisations have formal, written complaints procedures and we will help you identify the scope of the initial steps you need to take.

The decision to take legal action should not be taken lightly. It can be costly, lengthy and very stressful. You will be asked to repeat and relive experiences that may be traumatic. However, we will guide and support you through the process.

The claims process

As part of the initial investigations, your solicitor will gather all the necessary evidence from witnesses and also in the form of medical records and reports from independent experts.

The expert’s opinion will be based upon the following:

your medical records

your statement about what happened and the resulting injury

any other supporting information and documentation

What can I claim for?

You can claim compensation for any injuries or losses suffered which were a direct result of the negligent treatment. These can include:

Pain and suffering

Loss of earnings and potential earnings

Additional care costs

Cost to adapt your home and sourcing of additional equipment

Psychological injury

Will I end up having to go to court?

Negligence claims rarely end up in court, as many cases are settled after investigations are completed. Typically, both sides are encouraged to settle the matter quickly.

What do I need to do now?

The first step is to talk to us. In medical negligence cases we generally give a free initial interview. At Keogh, Nicholls, Lindsell & Harris, most clients with a new case are seen by a senior solicitor so that the case can be expertly assessed and put on the right footing from the start. If you have a clinical negligence case you will be seen by John Gorner who is a solicitor with almost 30 years’ experience of dealing with medical and dental negligence cases.  If you feel you need to speak to someone, then please get in touch.