Medical Negligence Claims
We all rely on doctors and other medical professionals to take care of us when we need them, but when a mistake is made it can have a devastating effect on your life. Being able to claim compensation can then be essential to allowing you to deal with the consequences of a medical mistake and start rebuilding your life.
Chattertons’ team of medical negligence solicitors have extensive experience supporting people with a wide range of medical negligence claims. We offer caring but practical advice and guidance designed to make the process of pursuing a medical negligence claim as simple and stress-free as possible.
All of our medical negligence specialists are senior solicitors and we have access to trusted medical experts throughout the UK. We can provide a free initial assessment to establish the strength of your claim and advise you how much compensation you may be able to win and how we can help you proceed. We can also discuss how to fund your claim, including the option of a “No Win, No Fee” agreement.
Our medical negligence solicitors have successfully represented clients in a wide variety of claims including:
- Mistakes during surgery or aftercare (both private and NHS treatment)
- GP and Community Health (including misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis)
- Birth and pregnancy-related claims including fatalities
- Avoidable fatalities (including representation at Inquests)
- Accident and emergency treatment
- Cancer misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or treatment
- Cauda equina spinal injuries
- Dental claims
- Eye injuries (including laser surgery)
- Cosmetic surgery
- Hospital infections
- Product liability claims including the side-effects of medicines
Medical or clinical negligence claims are complex and you should always take advice from a specialist clinical negligence solicitor before starting a claim. There are strict time limits for bringing a claim depending on the circumstances, so it is recommended you speak to a solicitor as soon as possible after a medical mistake happens to ensure you have the best chance of making a successful claim.
Clients often ask us……
What counts as medical negligence?
Even where a medical mistake has occurred, it will not necessarily automatically count as medical negligence. Proving that a clinical mistake was due to negligence can be complicated and is key to a successful medical negligence claim.
All members of the medical profession – including doctors, nurses and dentists – have a legal duty to ensure patients are treated with appropriate care and skill. For a successful claim, it must be shown that the medical professionals in your case behaved in a way no other reasonably competent medical professionals would have.
Will my claim affect my access to treatment?
This is a common worry, but you can be assured that making a claim will never affect your access to medical treatment.
When you make a medical negligence claim, the claim will be against the NHS Trust or other healthcare provider, rather than against an individual hospital, doctor or other clinical professional.
Additionally, the fact you are making a claim will not be included in your medical records or anywhere else the frontline staff should have access to. This means that nobody providing care to you or your family should be aware that you are pursuing a claim.
It should also be noted that it would be against the law for a hospital, GP surgery or other healthcare provider to refuse to treat your or your family or to provide a substandard service on the basis that you had made a medical negligence claim.
What can I claim medical negligence compensation for?
The aim of claiming compensation is to make sure you have all the support you need to minimise the impact of your injuries on your life. To that end, there are two broad types of damages you may be entitled to as a victim of medical negligence:
Special damages – For financial losses due to your injuries e.g. lost income, treatment costs, buying specialist equipment, paying for care support etc.
General damages – For non-financial losses e.g. pain and suffering, lifestyle changes etc.
Exactly what damages you will be entitled to will depend on your circumstances and assessing this will be a key part of the claims process.
Does medical negligence compensation affect benefits?
Compensation for medical negligence can often be very substantial, so it can potentially mean you will no longer be eligible to certain means-tested benefits if you do not get the right legal measures in place to avoid this.
To make sure your compensation does not affect your right to means-tested benefits, we can assist you with setting up a personal injury trust. Placing your compensation into such a trust allows you to use the funds to meet your needs while making those funds exempt from means-testing.
Can I claim compensation for someone who died due to clinical errors?
Where a loved one has sadly died due to medical negligence, the representatives of their estate can often pursue compensation. You will normally have three years from the date of death to bring a fatal medical negligence claim and the compensation available can include:
- A statutory bereavement award (currently set at £12,980)
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of dependency e.g. replacing the deceased’s income
- Loss of care and services provided by the deceased
- Compensation for pain and suffering
What is the time limit for bringing a clinical negligence claim?
There are strict time limits for medical negligence claims. Generally speaking, court proceedings must be started within 3 years from the date when a medical mistake occurred or when you first realised that a mistake might have been made.
This is not always easy to determine. It could be the date when an operation went badly wrong, or it could be much later when another doctor picks up on a mistake. It is always best to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to bring a claim.
In cases involving children, the 3-year time limit does not come into effect until they turn 18, meaning they will have until their 21st birthday to bring a claim. If the medical negligence left someone without the capacity to bring a claim on their own behalf, e.g. if they were left in a coma, there is no time limit for bringing a claim, unless they later regain capacity. If they regain capacity, the 3-year time limit will be counted from that time.
How does a “No Win, No Fee” medical negligence claim work?
Provided that your claim has reasonable prospects of success, there are two main funding options available:
An existing insurance policy – Many people already have insurance that will cover legal costs, for example this is often included with home insurance policies.
A Conditional Fee Agreement (i.e. "No Win, No Fee") – This means you pay nothing up front and we will only charge you if your claim is successful. Our fee will be based on a percentage of the settlement we win for you, giving us an extra incentive to get the best result possible for you.
We can also arrange specialist insurance to cover your medical experts’ fees and the risk of having to pay your opponent’s legal costs in case your claim is unsuccessful. With this type of insurance, you will not pay a penny if your claim is unsuccessful.
Contact our medical negligence solicitors
For a free initial assessment and to find out whether we can offer a Conditional Fee Agreement in your case, please get in touch with your local Chattertons office or use our contact form to request a call back.