If you suffer injury due to medical (or clinical) negligence (for example, in the course of an operation), then you may be entitled to claim compensation. All doctors owe their patients a duty of care and a claim may be made if they are negligent. Claims can be pursued against the NHS or a private healthcare provider if the negligence arose in the private healthcare system.
To claim compensation for medical negligence you must prove that the doctor or other healthcare provider made a serious error which was the result of negligence and that the medical error(s) made a material contribution to the injury. A claim must normally be made within three years of the incident or within three years of the eighteenth birthday of someone injured as a child.
It is necessary to establish that the medical injury was caused by the negligence of the doctor or healthcare provider. The general standard is that on the ‘balance of probabilities’ the negligence was a material cause of the harm. If there was only a ‘loss of a chance’ (i.e. the correct treatment of the condition would only have had a small chance of success anyway), then it may be unlikely that there is sufficient causation.
Medical negligence claims can be complex due to the scientific issues involved – experts can frequently disagree about material causation. In addition, the long-term effects of injuries due to medical negligence in some cases may not be ascertainable for several years. For these reasons medical negligence claims can take a long time to settle and often settlements are made on an interim basis with subsequent revisions.
Contact us for professional advice if you think you have suffered injury from medical negligence.