Clinical Negligence

20 February, 2013

Facts about clinical negligence

Nobody likes cases of clinical negligence. After all, medical staff are motivated by a desire to heal not harm, but sadly, however much care everybody takes, sometimes things go wrong. The human body is infinitely complex, and despite the marvellous medical advances of the last two centuries, we still don’t fully understand all the interactions between treatments and patients, and because each person is unique, a standard treatment can sometimes differ between one patient and another.

Why are clinical medical cases different to other accident claims?

Fundamentally a claim for compensation for injuries from clinical negligence must meet the same conditions as any other:

  • The injuries must result from the actions or negligence of a third party
  • The injured person must have had medical treatment, or further treatment as a result of the injuries or complications arising from the incident in question
  • The claim must be made within three years of the complaint.

The main difference is in the emphasis. In serious cases of clinical negligence, where the consequences are life-changing, life-threatening or even fatal, the court will spend more time looking at future needs, to make sure the compensation award covers those.

Clinical negligence cases can include:

  • Malpractice and misconduct, or when treatments go wrong
  • Failure or delay to diagnose or treat a condition
  • Treatment given to the patient without consent
  • Injury from dental procedures
  • Injury resulting from defective implants or substandard drugs or medication.
  • These mishaps can happen in both NHS and privately funded hospitals.

In some cases, the claimant may not be the injured person, but could be parents claiming on behalf of a minor, or on behalf of a patient too badly incapacitated to act for himself or herself, or for elderly relatives. In some cases, a family or relatives will claim for damages as a result of a fatality from clinical negligence.

How do I start a claim for medical negligence?

Probably quite detailed medical assessments will be required, and these have to be made by practitioners who are independent of both claimant and defendant and their associates. Before reaching that stage however, an initial assessment has to be made to confirm:

  • The claim qualifies
  • The amount to be claimed

You can get those answers here online at claim4. Just take the eligibility checker test and then run through the compensation calculator to get an estimate of what amount you might be claiming for. If you decide to start your claim, you may need more specific advice about your own case from a legal expert.