1. What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional provides treatment which falls below the required standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient.
2. What are the different types of medical negligence?
Medical negligence can take many different forms, including misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, incorrect treatment, surgical errors, medication errors, failure to warn of risks or side effects, or failure to refer to a specialist when necessary. Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical negligence and occurs when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a patient’s condition or illness, leading to a delay in treatment or the wrong treatment being administered. Surgical errors can include errors made during the surgery itself, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, and also for errors during the consent process.
3. How do I know if I have a case for medical negligence?
If you have suffered harm due to substandard medical care, you may have a case for medical negligence. You would need to be able to demonstrate that the treatment provided to you fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent medical practitioner, and that you suffered additional injury or harm as a result of this treatment.
4. What should I do if I believe I have been a victim of medical negligence?
If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. At Ellisons, our specialist medical negligence can help you determine whether you have a case and guide you through the legal process. As part of our investigation, we will help gather evidence, such as medical records and independent expert opinions, to support your claim.
5. How long do I have to file a medical negligence claim?
In the UK, you generally have three years from the date of the negligence or from the date on which you became aware of the substandard treatment to make a medical negligence claim.
6. What types of compensation can I receive for medical negligence?
If you are successful in making a medical negligence claim, you may be awarded compensation for a variety of losses, including your own pain and suffering, loss of earnings, medical expenses, travel expenses, and care costs. Compensation can also be awarded for future losses, such as ongoing medical treatment or care, and loss of future earnings.
7. Can I claim for medical negligence if I signed a consent form?
Signing a consent form does not mean that you have given up your right to make a medical negligence claim. In some cases, the risks of the procedure may not have been fully explained to you or the injury that has occurred may be completely unrelated to the risks explained prior to undergoing the operation. The important factor will be whether or not the treatment was carried out with an appropriate level of care and skill.
8. Who can be held liable for medical negligence?
Healthcare professionals, hospitals, clinics, and ambulance trusts can be held liable for medical negligence. Generally, where a patient received care in hospital, the claim would be against the NHS Trust who are vicariously liable for the action of all employees at that specific hospital. Claims against GPs or private doctors are generally brought against the individual clinician as they are often acting on a self-employed basis and will hold individual indemnity insurance for their actions.
9. How much does it cost to instruct a solicitor for a medical negligence claim?
The cost of instructing a solicitor for a medical negligence claim will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. You may already have some existing insurance to cover your legal costs, or, alternatively, we can offer a Conditional Fee Agreement (often referred to as no-win, no-fee) which means you won’t have to pay any costs if your claim is unsuccessful.
10. What is the average settlement for a medical negligence claim?
The amount of compensation awarded for medical negligence claims can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of each case. As set out above, if your claim is successful you can claim damages for your pain and suffering, any financial losses already incurred as a result of the negligence, and any losses that you are likely to incur in the future. These amounts are unique to each client and will vary considerably.
11. Can I make a medical negligence claim on behalf of someone else?
Yes, you can make a medical negligence claim on behalf of someone else if they are unable to do so themselves. For example, if a loved one has died as a result of medical negligence, you may be able to make a claim on their behalf if you are the appointed representative of their estate. Alternatively, if your child has been a victim of medical negligence then you can bring the claim on their behalf if they are aged under 18.
12. What is the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice?
Medical negligence and medical malpractice are different terms for the same thing. Generally, in the UK, medical negligence or clinical negligence are used more frequently whereas medical malpractice is typically used in the United States.
13. Can I report a healthcare professional for medical negligence?
Yes, if you are concerned about the treatment that you have received then you can report a healthcare professional to their regulatory body, such as the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council. However, it should be noted that this process is distinct from a medical negligence claim, and a finding of negligence against an individual does not necessarily mean that their regulatory body will also take action against them.
14. How long does it take to resolve a medical negligence claim?
The time it takes to resolve a medical negligence claim can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case and whether the other party accepts liability. Some cases can be resolved in a matter of months, while others can take several years to reach a conclusion. On average, it is likely that your case will take between 18 months and 4 years to reach a resolution.
15. What are the risks of pursuing a medical negligence claim?
Pursuing a medical negligence claim can be a complex, lengthy and emotional process. There is always the risk that your claim won’t not be successful and you may not receive any compensation for your injuries. However, as long as you act reasonably and honestly throughout the process, and do not exaggerate your symptoms, then you will not end up in a worse financial position as a result of the claim.
If you have suffered from medical negligence, contact our specialist Medical Negligence team today to arrange a free initial consultation, and we will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.