Clinical Negligence FAQs

Read our frequently asked questions about clinical negligence claims

//Clinical Negligence FAQs
Clinical Negligence FAQs 2019-12-05T13:34:53+00:00

Can I sue my cosmetic surgeon?

Cosmetic surgeons, like any medical professional, have legal duties to take care of their patients’ welfare. If their conduct has fallen below required professional standards, you may be able to sue them for the harm they have caused you. This can cover a wide range of situations, from botched cosmetic procedures to failures when discussing the risks of a procedure with you. However, being unhappy with the results of a cosmetic procedure does not necessarily mean you can sue. There must be a professional failing on your surgeon’s part to give grounds for a cosmetic surgery claim.

What does medical negligence mean?

Medical negligence – sometimes called clinical negligence – is a situation in which a medical professional or institution has failed in their duty to take care of you and you have suffered injury and/or harm as a result. Examples include medical mistakes such as: surgical errors, misdiagnosis, and substandard emergency care. If you are the victim of medical negligence, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim for compensation against those responsible.

How long do medical negligence claims take?

It is very difficult to predict how long a medical negligence claim might take. Many things can affect the length of a medical negligence claim, including: how long you take to recover from your injuries; how long it takes to gather the required evidence, and how quickly other parties respond. Medical negligence claims are often more complicated than other kinds of personal injury claim, and case duration can be anywhere from several months up to several years for more serious cases.

What is the time limit on medical negligence claims in the UK?

The general rule, in England and Wales, is that you must settle your medical negligence claim, or begin court proceedings, within three years of the date on which you suffered the harm. The general rule doesn’t always apply, however. For example, if you only discover the harm you have suffered some time after it was actually caused, the time limit will instead start to run from the date you became aware of the harm. Legal time limits on claims can be complicated, so you should always discuss this with a specialist medical negligence solicitor when considering a claim.

Can I change my medical negligence solicitor?

You are always entitled to change your solicitor when making a claim, even if your medical negligence claim is already ongoing. Medical negligence claims are a highly specialised area of law, so it is important you have got the right solicitors working for you. If you are not convinced that your current solicitors are providing you with the best legal support, you should seriously consider switching your solicitors to a better firm.

What is loss of chance in medical negligence?

Loss of chance is a kind of harm for which you may be able to claim compensation as part of a medical negligence claim (or other kind of personal injury claim). If the medical negligence in question has caused you to miss out on certain career opportunities, you may be awarded compensation for the potential benefit you have lost. Our free ebook: ‘The Ultimate Personal Injury Compensation Guide’ contains more information on loss of chance.

What are the most common medical negligence cases?

There are many different kinds of medical negligence claims. The cases which we most commonly encounter are situations involving delays in treatment or diagnosis, incorrect diagnoses, and errors with medication.

What is the average payout for medical negligence?

Medical negligence claims can encompass many different kinds of injury and harm. As such, if you have suffered harm through medical negligence, any ‘overall average payout figure’ would be a meaningless number to you. This is because the value of the harm you have suffered depends on your circumstances – i.e. the extent of your injury and how much it has affected your life. An overall average gives you no indication where your own injury valuation would be in relation to it.

What does it mean to be negligent?

We usually think of negligence as carelessness, but in legal terms the meaning is more specific. Someone is legally negligent if their conduct is below a ‘standard of care’ which is required of them, by law, in certain circumstances. People have these ‘duties of care’ towards others in all kinds of situations – for example, doctors towards their patients, motorists towards other road-users, and employers towards their workers. If a person’s negligence causes harm to someone else, they could be legally responsible for ‘making good’ that harm – normally through paying compensation.

How do I prove medical negligence?

There are several elements to making a medical negligence claim successfully, and it is for you as the person making the claim (with your legal team) to prove these different elements. The two elements which are often central to medical negligence claims are: firstly, whether the medical practitioners involved failed to meet the standards required of them by law; and secondly, if there was a failure, whether this caused the injuries and harm for which you are claiming compensation. Evidence is crucial to proving these elements, and a claim will often rely heavily on reports written by impartial medical experts.

Is it hard to prove medical negligence?

Every compensation claim has its own challenges; what may be disputed in one case, could be quickly admitted in another. However, medical negligence claims frequently involve complicated medical issues, meaning there is often a greater need for detailed evidence, especially when compared to more ‘straightforward’ causes of personal injury, such as road traffic accidents. This makes skilful and experienced legal support even more crucial. Instructing a firm of solicitors who specialise in medical negligence claims is the best way to give your claim its highest chances of success.

Is there a difference between medical malpractice and negligence?

You may come across the term ‘medical malpractice’ when searching online. It often appears in US law, but does not have any special significance in the UK. In the UK, the terms medical negligence or clinical negligence are used instead (and these are completely interchangeable – i.e. they refer to the same thing).

What is considered negligence by a doctor?

If a doctor has been negligent, it means that they have not met the standards of care which they legally owe towards their patient. Failure to meet these standards could take many forms, such as: misdiagnosing a patient, prescribing incorrect treatment, not properly investigating a patient’s symptoms, or giving a patient insufficient information to allow them to make informed decisions about their care.

Can I sue for unnecessary surgery?

Unnecessary surgery is often a clear example of medical negligence. Surgery can cause a lot of pain, distress and disruption to someone’s life. If a medical mistake by your doctors has caused you to undergo surgery which was not required, or corrective surgery to fix a surgical error, you may have strong grounds for a medical negligence claim.

How much is my clinical negligence claim worth?

Many different pieces of information are used to value an injury claim; the nature of your injury, what it has stopped you from doing, the duration of your symptoms, and many more factors will all play a part. You should be very wary of ‘valuations’ from compensation calculators, as they will not take any of your individual circumstances in to consideration. For more information on how injuries are valued accurately, have a look at our free ebook: ‘The Ultimate Personal Injury Compensation Guide’.

How many medical negligence cases go to court?

Only a very small proportion of medical negligence claims ever go to trial. Cases can be settled right up until a hearing takes place, even after formal court proceedings have been started. NHS Resolution (the organisation which defends the vast majority of claims against the NHS) states that less than 1% of the medical negligence claims it deals with go to a court hearing.

 

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