Should you make a medical negligence claim?
Medical negligence is a growing problem.
The NHS alone contends with around ten thousand claims a year, whose cost collectively exceeds £4.3 billion.
These might seem like huge figures – and they are.
It’s worth thinking about whether you could be entitled to compensation, and whether it’s worth putting in a medical or clinical negligence claim.
With this in mind, let’s run through a few of the facts you’ll need to make an informed decision.
What is medical negligence?
Three things must be proven for a medical practitioner to found be guilty of negligence.
First, that the standard of care has fallen below that of a competent medical practitioner.
Second, that the patient’s health has suffered as a result.
Third, that this damage would not have occurred otherwise.
A competent medical negligence solicitor will be able to determine whether these criteria have been met, and whether sufficient evidence can be brought.
What evidence do I need?
The more detailed the evidence you have of the process of care, the better.
Keep hold of every correspondence you ever get from a medical care provider and stash it safely.
You never know whether you’ll have to use it as evidence.
Types of evidence include:
- Letter of complaint
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Expert medical evidence
- Financial evidence
Your solicitor will know how to extract additional notes and records from the other side.
What are the time limits?
Typically, the patient has three years from the point at which they became aware of the problem.
This is usually the point of care itself, though not always.
If the consequences of an intervention didn’t become obvious until years after the event, then you might have grounds to file later.
Moreover, the patient might have been under eighteen, or lacking the metal capacity to make an informed decision.
Ultimately, if you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence, even years later then it’s worth seeking legal advice to see if you can pursue.
Who can I make a claim against?
NHS staff, including doctors, are responsible for the vast majority of negligence claims in the UK – but this is only because they constitute the vast majority of medical practitioners.
Anyone who dispenses care can be guilty of negligence, including dentists and cosmetic surgeons.
Do I have to go to court?
Only very rarely do claimants have to attend court in person.
Most of the time, the defence will offer a financial settlement out of court; if they know that they are going to lose (as they should), they will not want to have to pay for the court expenses.
Can I afford it?
Most claims of this sort are conducted on a no-win, no-fee basis.
This means if you don’t win, then you don’t need to pay anything. In this case, your solicitor will assume the risk of failure.
Because of this, you can be assured that these types of solicitor will only take on cases they truly believe will win a settlement.
Ultimately if you are a victim of medical negligence then seek legal advice as you may be entitled to compensation for the failure.
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