Medical Negligence Claims UK
Every day, thousands of people are treated by doctors, nurses, surgeons, midwives and other healthcare professionals. The overwhelming majority of these treatments result in a favourable outcome for the patient. The number of medical negligence claims in the UK is low compared to other countries, and we can usually rely on our medical experts to deliver an excellent standard of care.
Sometimes, however, things go wrong and a clinician will make an avoidable mistake. If that mistake causes injury or worsens a patient’s prognosis, then it may be possible to seek compensation by pursuing a claim for medical negligence.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence is a special type of personal injury claim. It occurs whenever a healthcare professional does something that is not in keeping with their responsibilities, and those actions cause patient harm.
Not every poor treatment will result in compensation. To make a successful claim, you must show that the healthcare professional did something, or failed to do something, that no other competent clinician would have done.
What are the common types of medical negligence claims UK?
Medical negligence is also known as clinical negligence since it can occur in any number of healthcare settings. Areas which give rise to medical negligence claims include:
- GP negligence such as a failure to investigate symptoms or to act on test results.
- Surgical negligence such as poor operating procedures, instruments left inside the body or the wrong operation being performed.
- Dental negligence that exacerbates a dental condition or results in avoidable tooth loss.
- Misdiagnosis claims where a healthcare professional fails to identify the symptoms of an illness or diagnoses a medical condition as something else.
- Hospital negligence including patient dehydration and malnourishment, bedsore claims and hospital-contracted infections such as MRSA.
- Pharmaceutical and prescription errors when the wrong medicine is prescribed or drugs are administered in the wrong dosage.
- Birth injuries to mothers and children which typically result from forceps, ventouse and caesarean deliveries or inadequate prenatal and postnatal care.
- Negligent cosmetic procedures such as breast implants, facelifts, rhinoplasty (nose jobs), botox injections or liposuction.
- Lack of consent claims where a healthcare professional administers treatment without first explaining the risks and the alternatives.
- Accident and emergency negligence such as the failure to check a patient’s medical history or refer the patient for tests.
- Investigation errors including a failure to take, read or follow up blood tests, scans and X-rays.
- Clinical negligence by the wider healthcare team including physiotherapists, dieticians, psychologists, occupational health practitioners, optometrists and podiatrists.
This list is not exhaustive. It is possible to claim for any type of medical error that causes you avoidable harm or injury as long as negligence can be shown.
What must I prove to establish a medical negligence claim?
Medical negligence claims UK will only be successful if you can show both negligence and causation.
Negligence occurs if the care you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent medical specialist. Negligence is also referred to as “liability” or “breach of duty of care.”
Sometimes, a patient will receive an undesirable outcome due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that any skilful doctor could have made in the circumstances. These claims will not usually result in liability. Damages will only be paid in cases where the error is such that no reasonable doctor could have made it.
It is not possible to make a claim simply because a doctor did something wrong. You must prove that the mistake caused you injury that you would not otherwise have suffered. In other words, your injuries are the direct result of the negligence, and not due to the underlying medical condition.
The duty is on you, the Claimant, to prove your claim. Often, it is unclear whether the doctor’s mistake caused or exacerbated your condition or whether the condition would have worsened on its own. If your solicitor thinks that your case is worth investigating, they will usually gather evidence from independent medical practitioners in the form of expert reports.
Medical negligence claims UK – how can a solicitor help?
Medical negligence is a complex area of law. If you are to receive the compensation you deserve, you will need the help of a solicitor who specialises in making claims against the medical profession. A dedicated medical negligence solicitor will have received specialist training and will only do this type of work.
Putting together a medical negligence claim is not straightforward. As an initial step, your solicitor may arrange for you to see an independent medical expert to determine the medical facts. The medical report will be used as a starting point for compensation negotiations.
In addition, your solicitor will gather factual evidence to show that the clinician acted negligently, and that you suffered injury as a result. This evidence might include:
- Medical records
- Test results such as X-rays, lab reports and scans
- Witness statements
- Medical codes of practice
- Expert medical opinions
- Guidelines and recommendations from independent bodies such as The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE.)
Once the evidence has been collated, the solicitor will use it build the most robust case possible. All this effort will give your medical negligence claim the best chance of success.
Financial support or benefits may be available depending on your personal circumstances. Your solicitor may also assist in dealing with the Department of Work and Pensions.
Will I have to go to court?
Only a small minority of cases end up in Court. The majority are resolved long before the case reaches trial using a procedure known as an out-of-court settlement.
Even if you do have to go to Court, your medical negligence solicitor will be with you every step of the way and ensure that you have all the help and support that you need.
Can I still make a medical negligence claim if my injury occurred in a private hospital?
It does not matter whether your treatment was provided by the NHS or a private medical practitioner – if the treatment was negligent and caused you harm, then it may be possible to make a medical negligence claim UK.
The only difference is who you sue. If your treatment was provided by an NHS hospital, then the claim is brought against the relevant NHS Trust. If your treatment was provided by a GP, dentist or private medical practitioner, then you would sue the clinician directly. GPs, dentists and private doctors carry insurance against medical negligence claims and the compensation would be paid by the insurer.
What is the time limit for making a medical negligence claim UK?
Medical negligence claims in the UK must be brought within three years of the negligent treatment. If you do not make a claim within the three-year limit, then you will not be permitted to make a claim. For this reason, it is important that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
Sometimes, the consequences of a medical mistake are not known for several months or years after the negligent incident. In this scenario, the three-year time limit starts to run from the date when you first discover that your injury was the result of medical negligence. This is known as the “date of knowledge.”
Special rules apply to children. If you are making a claim on behalf of an injured minor, then you have three years from the child’s 18th birthday to make a claim, that is, until the child turns 21.
Whatever your circumstances, it is recommended that you start a claim early. Medical negligence claims in the UK can be complex and your solicitor will benefit from the extra time to gather medical evidence and establish the circumstances surrounding your injury.
What are the alternatives to making a medical negligence compensation claim?
When people are subjected to substandard medical treatment, it is not always financial compensation that they want. Sometimes, they simply want an apology or an assurance that another patient will not suffer the same way.
One option is to file a formal complaint through the official NHS complaints procedure. Details are available on the National Health Service website. Serious complaints about hospital doctors and GPs may also be made to the General Medical Council. Complaints against private clinicians should be addressed to the clinician themselves in the first instance and then to the professional organisation that regulates that area of medical practice.
If you wish to make a formal NHS complaint, you must do so within six months, so it is best not to delay. Your solicitor can explain the various options open to you.
It is possible, and sometimes advisable, to make an official complaint and make a claim for compensation. Using the NHS complaints procedure before starting legal action will help you find out more about what happened and why it happened. You can use this information to support your claim for compensation and build a stronger clinical negligence case.
How much compensation can you claim for medical negligence claims UK?
Compensation, or damages, is a sum of money to offset pain and suffering and to assist your medical recovery. Awards fall into two categories: “general damages” and “special damages.”
This is compensation for the pain and suffering your injury has caused and the loss of lifestyle such as your ability to enjoy hobbies or play sport. The amount of general damages will depend on the type of injury and the impact it has on your life.
To calculate general damages, your solicitor will refer to a set of guidelines issued by the Judicial College. The Guidelines recommend a broad band of compensation for particular injuries.
In general, the more serious the injury, the more compensation you will receive. So, a birthing complication that causes the mother some minor perineal trauma that heals without surgery will receive less compensation than a birthing complication that leaves the mother with permanent incontinence and pain.
Your solicitor can usually provide an estimation of general damages at the outset of your case.
This is compensation for the financial losses that you have incurred in the past or will incur in the future. Special damages might include:
- Wages lost through an additional surgery or extended recuperation time
- Loss of future earning potential
- Medical expenses
- Travel expenses
- The cost of specialist equipment such as mobility aids
- Personal care where the injured person is unable to take care of themselves
- Home adaptations such as wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, alarm systems and shower rails.
Where the injuries are very serious and the patient loses the ability to work or care for themselves, then the award for special damages can be very high.
How long do medical negligence claims UK take?
Claims are typically concluded in 12 to 18 months but every case is different. An uncomplicated case where negligence is admitted may settle sooner. Complex cases and those involving life-changing injuries can take significantly longer.
Sometimes, it benefits the Claimant to wait before negotiating a settlement. The compensation you agree is a “full and final” settlement of your medical negligence claim. You cannot come back for more money if your injuries turn out to be worse than expected or if you suffer complications in the future.
The longer you wait, the more apparent your future needs will become. This can deliver a fairer and more substantial settlement.
The Medical Negligence Experts are medical negligence claims UK specialists – we don’t do anything else. Our experience ranges from treatment error and medical misdiagnosis to cancer, birth injuries, head injuries, prescription mistakes and medical negligence claims against the NHS and private clinicians.
We recognise that you will most likely have questions before deciding whether to begin a claim. Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation and we’ll be happy to help you.
There are legally defined time limits for submitting a medical negligence compensation claim in the UK, so please contact us today.
Need some help?
Am I eligible?
If you have suffered from medical negligence in the past 3 years, the short answer is yes.
However, medical negligence can be complicated, so we recommend that you speak with one of our expert solicitors - It’s Free.
How much could I claim?
As every medical case is different, the amount of compensation paid out can differ. Varying factors lead to the final figure include: Level of negligence, earnings missed out on, future losses and more.
Our experienced team of experts will give you an indication of how much you could potentially claim.
How does the process work?
We understand that when making a claim it’s important to know what to expect and when to expect it. That’s why we make the process as transparent as possible.
Your solicitor will gather all the evidence and will notify the negligent party of your claim against them. With your dedicated solicitor negotiating on your behalf, you will be kept up to date every step of the way.
Why should you choose us?
No Win No Fee
We offer a No Win No Fee* service on all our claims - We assess each claim on its merits with the information provided, which aids us to determine its likely success rate. This takes the risk away from you.
Our experienced solicitors are experts in securing compensation no matter the level of negligence.
We are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you, while providing friendly support every step of the way.
Personal Dedicated Lawyers
On contact, you will be allocated your own expert Medical Negligence solicitor who will be there every step of the way. You will be provided with a direct phone number and direct email address of your solicitor.
Expert medical negligence solicitors working for you
We specialise in helping victims of medical negligence claim the compensation they deserve.
We work on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning if we don’t win your case, you don’t pay! Once you make contact, your experienced solicitor will work to recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Whether you are ready to make a medical negligence claim, or you would just like a free conversation with a legal professional, we have experts on hand to give you all the information you need. Take the first step to getting what you deserve by filling in our quick contact form and we will call you back whenever suits you.