Clinical or medical negligence claims cost the NHS more than £4 billion every year. Whilst the cost of such claims is substantial to the NHS, the price paid by patients can be enormous. Provided below is a guide to claiming compensation for medical negligence.
Identify the Negligent Treatment
Not all mistakes and accidents are deemed negligent in the eyes of the law. In order to establish a claim for compensation, those responsible for causing harm must be found to have breached their duty of care to the claimant. Such a duty exists between medical professionals and their patients, but for a claim to succeed it must be possible to establish that the harm in question was caused by a breach of this duty, a criterion that is satisfied by further tests of causation and liability, the latter of which uses a ‘balance of probability’ test to identify negligence.
These claims are slightly different from other types of personal injury claim in so far as special criteria are applied to cases in order to establish negligence. In addition to the criteria mentioned above, the Bolam test is used to determine whether the defendant doctor acted in accordance with a “responsible body of medical opinion”. If they did, they cannot be said to have acted negligently. It is essential at this stage of a medical negligence claim to establish the basis for legal action, gathering as much information as possible to identify the circumstances in which negligent treatment was allegedly provided.
Seek Legal Advice
The next step is to seek legal advice. Home to numerous medical negligence solicitors, Liverpool has one of the highest rates of medical negligence claims in the UK. Other cities also abound in claims and solicitors; indeed, wherever medical negligence is likely to occur, a law firm will be able to provide help and advice to those affected. Seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity is essential in order to increase the chances of a claim succeeding in (or out of) court.
Potential claimants should also note that medical negligence claims must be brought within three years of the negligent act occurring or three years from the moment in which the claimant realised harm had been caused. Time limits for children are effective only from age 18. Therefore, a child who suffered medical negligence when they were twelve has a further nine years in which to bring a claim before the courts. No limitation applies to prospective claimants who suffer a mental disability (although the 3-year limit applies from the moment they recover from any such disability). In medical negligence cases, the sooner legal advice is sought the better.
Claiming for Compensation
As the base for some of the UK’s finest medical negligence solicitors Liverpool processes plenty of claims each year. In order to process a claim, however, solicitors must be instructed to take action. Solicitors ought to inform prospective claimants of their chances of success at this stage, so if a claim has no merit it should not proceed. Medical negligence solicitors can be funded privately, but many personal injury law firms in the UK offer a no-win, no-fee service, which means that claimants should not have to pay solicitors’ fees in the event of losing a claim.
This guest post was contributed by Denver Burke on behalf of Ead Liverpool Solicitors. He has been writing articles and content on a variety of topics across the web and is hoping to share his enthusiasm and knowledge on the subject.