Sometimes it can be hard to know if what happened to you was medical negligence. Did the doctor make a mistake, or was it just one of those things that happens?
Medical professionals are required to offer a certain standard of care when treating their patients. If they do not offer this level of care and this then causes their patient to suffer injury, then the treatment has been negligent.
When you are treated by a medical professional, you trust that they will deliver the best possible care to you. When this doesn’t happen, it can feel like a betrayal.
If you think you’ve suffered negligent treatment, these ten simple tips will help you have a better understanding of the claims process and if you are able to make a claim.
Here are ten things you need to know before you make a medical negligence claim
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to provide an acceptable standard of care, causing injury or harm to the patient. This may be by causing a new injury or illness due to substandard care, or by making an existing injury or medical condition worse. Examples of medical negligence include injuries during birth, being mistreated in a care home, surgical errors, laser eye surgery complications and many more.
Read a more detailed breakdown of medical negligence on our medical negligence page.
You will need to prove that medical negligence occurred
To make a successful claim, it’s important to understand how to prove medical negligence. Cases must be built on evidence, so it’s important that the person making the claim can prove what happened to them was a mistake and that they suffered injury or harm as a result of that mistake.
Documents that could help prove medical negligence are:
- Medical records including X-rays and ultrasounds
- Detailed statements from the claimant
- Witness statements (these can be from family and friends)
- Financial evidence
- Reports from medical experts that can be used as evidence
A medical negligence solicitor can help you collect evidence for your claim. At Patient Claim Line, we have access to a network of highly skilled medical professionals who will assess your treatment to understand where things went wrong. This will help to build you the best case for your claim.
A legal advisor can guide you through the medical negligence claim process
Legal advisors can assess the details of your claim quickly to understand if you have a case. Advisors will want to understand if you have proof of negligence, as this ensures that you qualify for making a claim. Once your claim has been qualified, your case will be reviewed by a medical expert so we can fully understand the requirements of your treatment. We will then notify the negligence party [VA1] of the legal proceedings. (is negligence party the right phrase?)
Sometimes, patients simply want an apology for the treatment that they received. If you don’t want to make a claim but instead seek recognition of the negligence and an apology, we recommend writing a letter to the doctor. In some cases, this can offer closure.
You can make a claim against the NHS and private practices
A common misconception about medical negligence is that claims can only be made against NHS doctors. However, this is not true. All health practitioners that have provided you care can be held accountable for their actions. Claims can be made against private doctors, dentists, cosmetic surgeons, care homes or any medical professional who has failed to provide you with adequate care, so long as there is proof.
It can take 12-36 months to complete your medical negligence claim
No two medical negligence claims are the same, therefore timeframes can vary. On average, claims take 12 – 36 months to complete. However, the duration of the claim depends on the complexity of your case, the injury you sustained and the cooperation of the defendant. If the opposing party admits negligence then your claim can be processed quickly, while more complicated cases can take much longer.
You don’t have to go to court
Going to court is one of the biggest worries that individuals experience when considering making a claim. However, many cases can be settled without going to court and often claimants are offered a financial settlement quickly. In more complex cases, court proceedings are required so we always advise that you should be prepared to go to court, just in case.
Compensation is calculated based on a number of factors
Medical negligence solicitors will take lots of different factors into account when calculating your compensation figure to ensure that you receive a fair sum. Some of these factors include:
- The severity of the injury
- Length of recovery
- Impact on daily life
- Punitive damages
- Inheritance loss
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of projected earnings
- Loss of benefits
If your friends, family or other medical professionals have been required to provide you with additional care due to the negligent treatment, then they can also receive compensation for their time.
There is a medical negligence time limit
You have three years from the “date of knowledge” to claim for medical negligence. The “date of knowledge” is the date when you first found out or became aware that a mistake had been made. Often patients are aware of the negligent incident soon after their treatment, however, in some cases, negligence can be discovered years after treatment. If the individual making the claim does not have mental capacity, or was under the age of 18 when the incident occurred, then the time limit is longer. Read more about medical negligence time limits here.
You can make a claim from home
Making a claim from home is easy, as you can speak to one of our legal advisors over the telephone or start your claim online using our simple form. Once your claim has been accepted, our dedicated team of specialist solicitors will be happy to visit you at home to ensure that you have the opportunity to make your claim.
It does not cost you to make a medical negligence claim
We believe that everyone has the right to fair legal representation, that’s why we offer a No Win, No Fee service so you don’t have to worry about any upfront legal fees. This means that you will not have to pay any fees if your case is not successful.