Medical Negligence Claims FAQs

You need to be able to prove that your family member would not have died if they had not received sub-standard medical treatment. If your family member was already suffering from an illness likely to shorten their life, this may reduce the amount of compensation that would be awarded.

If you can prove negligence and you are a surviving spouse, civil partner or a parent who has lost their child (up to 18 years old) you will be eligible to claim a bereavement award through the deceased’s estate. The bereavement award currently stands at £12,980. Funeral costs can also be claimed.

The deceased’s estate is also entitled to claim compensation for any pain and suffering experienced by the deceased that was caused by the medical negligence.

Lastly, a dependency claim can be made. The purpose of this part of the claim is to ensure that your family is not financially worse off following the death. This can be substantial, for example if you have lost a spouse whose earnings you depended on.

You can make a claim for your child’s birth injuries as long as you can prove that your medical treatment and that of your child is the cause of their condition.

If you were not monitored closely enough, or your medical team failed to act, foetal distress during labour can cause serious injuries such as brain damage or cerebral palsy. These injuries may have been completely avoidable.

You need not be concerned about the time limit which usually applies to medical negligence claims, because you are able to claim on behalf of your child up until they reach 18 years old. After this time, they have 3 years from their eighteenth birthday to make the claim themselves. If their birth injuries mean that they cannot make decisions for themselves, there is no time limit for their negligence claim.

There are three things that need to be established to make a claim for medical malpractice.

The first is that you were owed a duty of care. This means that your medical team were responsible for you and for your treatment being of a reasonable standard. So, for example, you are owed a duty of care when you ask your GP what is wrong with you or when you are being treated in hospital.

The second is that the duty of care was breached. This means that the care your medical team gave you was inadequate: for example, a GP failing to refer a patient suffering with blood in their urine to a consultant urologist. Or, if you contracted MRSA in hospital, this might be because the hospital failed to implement effective infection control.

Finally, you need to show that you suffered a loss or injury as a result of the poor treatment that you received.

Your medical records will be a key part of the evidence used in your medical malpractice claim, alongside expert evidence highlighting exactly what went wrong. Your solicitor can arrange this for you.

Your claim has to be properly investigated so that evidence can be gathered in support of your claim. Your solicitor will obtain and review your medical records and you will need to be examined by one or more medical experts.  These steps alone can take between six and twelve months.  

If the seriousness of your condition and your chances of a full recovery are unclear, you may also need to wait for further medical examinations.  This is because a claimant should always wait to see the full extent of the damages; then a reasonable monetary figure can be assessed.  If a claim is agreed too soon, and a claimant relapsed in some unforeseen way that required more care or costly treatment, then once a claim has been settled a subsequent claim is not allowed.

Once the evidence has been collected, your claim can be put to the doctor or NHS Trust involved (the defendant). Their legal representatives may want to get their own medical evidence. If so, this is likely to lead to a delay in your claim being dealt with.

In many cases, an agreement will be reached without the need to go to court although if the defendant denies responsibility altogether, your claim will take longer to settle and court action becomes more likely.

During negotiations, it may be possible for you to receive an interim payment as an advance on your compensation. This could help you to make any adaptations you need to your home or to pay for treatment. Any amounts received as an interim payment are deducted from your final award.

In fact medical negligence claims can take so long to resolve simply because the claims can be very complex.  If your health has suffered as a result of a medical professional’s negligence then your quality of life can suffer in several different ways that require compensation payments.  These areas include payments for; pain and suffering, loss of amenity, loss of past & future earnings, reduced employment prospects, cost of care, medication and private medical treatment.

If you think you may have a medical negligence complaint to make, then you should seek legal advice. Suing some other party for damages is known as litigation and it can be very difficult to gather all the information you need to back you up.

At QualitySolicitors, this is what we do.  We’ll match you up with a legal expert who can handle your medical negligence claim effectively and efficiently on your behalf; and that includes if you ever need to go to court.  Just call us on {{phone}} and we can have a free five-minute chat just to see exactly how we can help you.

No win, no fee funding can be available in medical negligence claims. This is also known as a conditional fee agreement or CFA. A CFA, together with a legal expenses insurance policy, protects you from facing a large legal bill if you lose your case. Instead these costs are covered by the insurance policy, which your solicitor arranges on your behalf.

If you win your medical negligence claim, your legal costs and the insurance premium will mostly be paid by the defendant (for example, the doctor or NHS Trust responsible for your injuries). You will pay a part of the costs out of your compensation, but at most this will be 25% of the compensation you receive.

If you lose your claim, you will not pay any fees or costs at all.

A medical malpractice claim is made up of a number of different elements.

You are entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you have suffered as a direct result of the medical negligence. For example, suppose you went to A&E with a broken ankle and they sent you home without an x-ray saying that you had a sprain. If your broken ankle was finally diagnosed months later but there was no longer term damage caused as a result of the delay, you might expect around £1,500 in compensation. You could expect significantly more if you suffer an injury that permanently harms your quality of life.

You can also claim for loss of earnings if you had to take time off from work as a result of the injuries you suffered from the medical malpractice and did not receive full pay from your employer. If you are left unable to work at all because of medical malpractice, your compensation will reflect this.

You can also be compensated for any costs you incur which relate to your condition, whether these are in the present or in future. If you need nursing care, adaptations to your home or vehicle, aids and equipment, this can all be included.

With serious medical injuries, these figures will be added up over your lifetime to ensure that you are properly cared for. Substantial awards are often paid in the form of an initial lump sum, followed by additional periodical payments each year.

Providing you can prove negligence, you will be able to include this element of care in your medical negligence claim. This may be personal care like helping you to wash and dress or go to the toilet, or domestic care such as cooking or cleaning that in the past would have been done by you.

You should keep a record of the time your partner spent caring for you and the nature of the tasks involved, as this will make it easier for a care claim to be calculated as part of your medical negligence claim.

Although your injury was two years ago, you still have time to make a claim for medical negligence as you are within the three year time limit.

Most women experience some degree of tearing during childbirth but this does not mean that there was medical negligence. For example, a tear is harder to avoid if:

  • your baby’s shoulder got stuck behind your pubic bone
  • you had a long second stage of labour
  • you were having a large baby (over 8 pounds 13 ounces)
  • it was your first birth
  • you were induced
  • you had an assisted delivery (with forceps or ventouse)

The key to knowing if you can claim will be, firstly, whether your care fell below the reasonable standard of care expected.

Your solicitor will want to find out more about your experience during labour to gauge if your labour was managed properly. For example, perhaps you were told to push before being fully dilated, or a caesarean section should have been considered.

The treatment you received after your tear is another factor to consider. For example, whether you were given the correct medication or suffered from a serious infection, and whether the repair was carried out within a reasonable time after the birth.

It can be extremely upsetting to experience delays in receiving important cancer treatment. Your doctor’s failure to diagnose your condition may well mean that you can make a successful medical negligence claim. You may also be able to claim if tests are delayed due to administrative errors.

Your solicitor will need to know how many times you visited your doctor with symptoms before you were eventually referred for further tests. Your medical notes will help as they will demonstrate whether your doctor took into account your age, occupation, lifestyle, past medical history and other factors that should be considered when making a diagnosis.

It will also be important to consider the impact of the delays and how this has changed the outcome of your condition. Any compensation award will reflect the harm you suffered as a result of the delay. Even if your doctor was negligent, if this made no difference to the outcome you will not be able to make a medical negligence claim.

Most medical negligence claims will settle before you have to attend court, although sometimes this happens just before the case goes to trial.

If the case does go to court, your legal team will be there to present your case and support you. Although you are likely to have to testify, you should not let this put you off. You are not on trial; you will simply be there to tell the judge what happened to you.

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