The UK healthcare system is known for providing exceptional care and treatment. However, the quality of care can fall short occasionally, causing harm or distress to patients. For those who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having experienced medical negligence, it is crucial to be informed about the process of making a claim.
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This guide explores the complexities of medical negligence claims, offering insights and advice on how to seek rightful compensation and justice. Let’s get started!
What Is a Medical Negligence Claim?
In the UK, medical professionals, whether part of the NHS or private sector, are expected to deliver care that meets certain standards. When a medical professional gives subpar treatment that causes a patient’s pain or discomfort, this is known as medical negligence. This could range from misdiagnosis to errors during surgery or wrong treatment.
A medical negligence claim is the legal process started by a patient or their representative against a healthcare provider or professional. The objective of this claim is to seek financial compensation for the suffering caused and hold the responsible parties accountable.
This process often involves working with a medical negligence solicitor to gather and present evidence that proves negligence occurred. To make a successful claim, it’s essential to demonstrate that the medical care provided was below the expected standard and that this directly led to injury or harm.
Common Grounds of Medical Negligence Claim
Here are some of the common grounds of medical negligence claims. Understanding these can help patients and their families recognise when they might have a valid claim for compensation due to medical mishandling.
- Surgical Errors: These include incidents where surgery is performed incorrectly, on the wrong site, or unnecessary surgery is conducted. Surgical negligence can result in significant physical and emotional trauma, warranting a claim for negligence compensation.
- Medical Misdiagnosis: Medical Misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional misidentifies the ailment of a patient, leading to improper treatment or a lack of necessary treatment.
- Prescription and Medication Errors: Errors in prescribing medication, whether it is incorrect medicine or inappropriate dosage – can harm a patient’s health.
- Birth Injuries: Negligence during childbirth, resulting in injury to the mother or child, is a serious matter. This may involve failing to account for potential complications, errors during delivery, or inadequate postnatal care.
- Failure in Aftercare or Discharge Procedures: Inadequate post-operative care or premature discharge leading to complications or delayed recovery.
- Nursing Home Negligence: You can make a clinical negligence claim for poor care in nursing homes that results in injuries or deterioration of health conditions in residents.
- Lack of Prompt Treatment: Delays in treatment, often due to mismanagement or administrative errors, causing the patient’s condition to worsen.
- Radiology Errors: Misinterpretation of X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging results, leading to misdiagnosis or delayed treatment.
Consulting with a medical negligence solicitor is a critical step for individuals who have experienced any of these forms of medical negligence. These legal experts can assist in proving that the medical care was below acceptable standards and directly resulted in harm.
Steps to Make a Claim for Medical Negligence Compensation
Making a medical negligence claim involves a series of steps, each crucial in building a strong case. Here are the general steps of the process:
Step 1: Initial Enquiry with a Specialist Solicitor
The journey begins with an initial consultation with a specialist medical negligence lawyer. At Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, our experts are trained to ask the right questions, allowing the legal teams to assess the viability of your case quickly. The aim is to understand the specifics of your situation, including the nature of the alleged negligence and the harm suffered.
Step 2: Case Assessment
The medical negligence team will review the details of your case. This involves analysing the circumstances of the alleged negligence, the impact on your health, and any supporting evidence you may have. This is an important stage in determining whether your claim is legitimate and the most effective course of action.
Step 3: Gathering Medical Records
Medical records are essential in proving that the medical treatment you received fell below the required standard and directly contributed to your injury or worsening of an existing condition. Independent medical experts may be consulted at this stage to objectively assess the care you received.
Step 4: Obtaining Medical Evidence
The solicitor will work to gather conclusive evidence to prove medical negligence. This might involve consulting with medical experts who can attest to the expected standard of care and how it was not met in your case. The evidence plays a pivotal role in assembling a direct link between the negligence and the damage caused.
Step 5: Negotiation
With supportive medical evidence, a formal letter of claim will be submitted to the defendant, which could be an NHS trust, a private healthcare provider, or a specific medical professional. The legal team will then negotiate with the defendant, aiming to secure an appropriate compensation amount that reflects the harm suffered and helps you return as closely as possible to your pre-negligence situation.
Step 6: Resolution or Litigation
Most medical negligence cases are resolved out of court. In the event that a mutually cooperative resolution is not achieved, the case may proceed to court. This involves preparing detailed legal documents (particulars of claim) and possibly instructing a barrister.
Step 7: Final Settlement and Compensation
Once the claim is resolved, either through negotiation or court proceedings, the final step is receiving the compensation you are entitled to. The goal of this compensation is to pay for any costs incurred as a result of the carelessness, including lost wages, medical expenditures, and pain and suffering damages.
Time Limit for a Medical Negligence Claim
Understanding the time constraints for filing a claim is essential. In the UK, the standard time limit for this is three years. This crucial period starts either from the date the injury or illness was suffered due to negligent care or from the moment the patient realises that their health issues might result from substandard medical treatment.
It’s important to note that even if many years have passed since the occurrence, the patient retains the right to pursue a claim. This is conditional upon the claim being initiated within three years from when they became aware of the possible negligence.
Therefore, it is advisable for individuals who suspect they have suffered from medical negligence to quickly obtain legal counsel to ensure that their claim is submitted within the permissible timeframe.
Also read: How to Sue the NHS
How Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors Can Help You
If you believe you have a medical negligence case, Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors is here to help you with civil litigation guidance and more. Our team of skilled legal specialists excels in offering all-encompassing assistance to those trying to deal with the particulars of medical negligence claims.
We are committed to robust representation and negotiation, aiming to secure the rightful compensation for our clients, all while providing compassionate, personalised service that acknowledges the emotional and physical impact of medical negligence.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to medical negligence, don’t face the challenge alone. Contact Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors today for a consultation to make the first move towards pursuing justice and compensation.
Also read: How to Take Action Against a School?
To make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to, a qualified solicitor can help you with the claim procedure, assist with gathering the required documentation, and defend you in negotiations or court.
Yes, you can claim for medical negligence against the NHS, as well as against private healthcare providers. The procedure and requirements may vary, so it’s vital to pursue legal guidance specific to your case.
Medical negligence refers to situations where healthcare professionals provide care that is below the accepted standard, leading to patient harm. This can enclose mistakes in diagnosis, treatment, or surgery.
The claim process involves consulting with a clinical negligence solicitor, collecting relevant medical records and evidence, and possibly taking the claim to court if an agreement isn’t reached.
The severity of the damage and how it affects your life determine how much compensation you can get for a medical negligence lawsuit. Factors such as the cost of medical treatment, loss of wages, and the discomfort and suffering tolerated are considered. Since every situation is different, compensation amounts might vary greatly.
Current data shows that a considerable percentage of claims against the NHS are successful. For instance, in 2021-22, out of 15,078 claims made, 13,070 reached a settlement, indicating a success rate of approximately 86.7%. However, success percentages might differ based on the specifics of every situation.
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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.