Medical Negligence Compensation Claims
When we attend an appointment with our GP or go to a hospital appointment, we rely on the fact that the people treating us are specialists in that area. We follow their advice and take their word for it that this is the correct thing to do.
But what happens when they are wrong?
There are numerous occasions where conditions are overlooked, treatment is delayed or an incorrect diagnosis is given and in these situations negative implications can arise.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence is where a medical practitioner or institutional health provider breaches their duty of care to you as their patient and this has a detrimental effect upon your health. Medical negligence can also be termed as clinical negligence or medical malpractice. They all hold the same meaning.
Breach of duty of care
A medical practitioner, such as a doctor, nurse, midwife or dentist, has a duty of care to their patients. This duty is to provide patients with a good standard of practice and care. Note that this does not mean to provide the ‘best’ standard of care.
A breach of this duty occurs where the medical practitioner has followed a course of action which is not supported by any reasonable body of medical opinion. If it can be shown that a reasonable proportion of similarly skilled practitioners would choose to follow that same course of action, then a breach will not have occurred. Difficulties can arise in proving a breach of duty because there is scope for genuine differences of opinion in the medical sphere. There are often multiple different courses of treatment that can be followed and choosing one course over another is not necessarily an act of negligence.
So when does this occur? A breach of duty can be found where a condition is left undiagnosed, there has been a delay in the treatment given, an incorrect diagnosis is made or incorrect treatment has been provided.
An institutional health provider can also be held liable for a breach of duty to its patients. The duty of a healthcare provider (a hospital) encompasses such things as the provision of staff with an appropriate level of skill and experience, provision of suitable equipment that is in good working order and provision of training and supervision for staff. If a medical practitioner is an employee of an NHS or Foundation Trust, then the institutional health provider will be vicariously liable for its employees’ breaches of duty.
In order to bring a medical claim forward for medical negligence, it is not just about proving breach of duty, that breach must have caused injury to you as a patient. Such an injury can become apparent in many ways:
- Suffering an unexpected injury or condition;
- A pre-existing injury or condition becomes worse;
- Failure to recover from an injury or condition;
- The chances of recovery are diminished; or
It must be shown that if the doctor or hospital had not provided the negligent treatment, you would not have sustained that injury. If in the unfortunate situation where a patient dies, a claim can be brought forward by the deceased’s estate or dependants.
Causation is a hotly disputed aspect of a medical negligence claim and there are quite often situations where a breach of duty has occurred but this does not cause an injury.
If both a breach of duty and causation can be proved, then you will have a claim for medical negligence or clinical negligence. So, what does this mean for you?
The aim of a clinical negligence claim is to put you back into the same situation you would have been in, but for the negligent treatment. Unfortunately, this is not always possible so what the law does is provide a claimant with compensation to account for the costs incurred as a result of the injury, both past and future, and to account for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity experienced.
What can I claim?
Damages claimed for medical negligence are split into two categories:
General Damages: General damages include losses for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that you have encountered as a result of the negligent treatment
Special Damages: Special damages are the financial losses which you have incurred, both prior to trial or settlement of your claim and those likely to be incurred in the future. This can include such things as loss of earnings, cost of medical care and transport costs. It is good practice if you are pursuing a claim to keep a record of all of the expenses you have incurred, so as to enable you to obtain full recovery here.
How can we help?
At Davies and Partners is a leading medical negligence law firm and we fully understand that there is no value of compensation that will justify the suffering you have endured. Our team of expert medical negligence solicitors will work with you to provide optimum levels of rehabilitation and a financial payout to help you to accommodate for the injury you have suffered.
Davies and Partners has one of the largest teams of specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors in the UK, providing a national service to clients from our four offices in Bristol, Birmingham, Gloucester and West London. Our team includes members of both The Law Society and AvMA specialist panels, dedicated to providing our clients with their expertise.
Pursuing a clinical or medical negligence claim requires a high degree of specialist legal and medical knowledge, together with a commitment to provide the highest quality service, with both sensitivity and understanding.
Davies and Partners holds a clinical negligence franchise with the Legal Aid Agency and provides a quality service for many successful claimants every year.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation, where one of our medical negligence solicitors will discuss the details of your claim with you. They will then be in a position to give you a guideline value to your claim and advise you on the next steps to take and whether it is worth pursuing your claim.