If you are looking to pursue compensation for an accident brought on by medical negligence, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. This is a specialist area of the personal injury claims market and one which requires professional guidance. This includes advice on the type of evidence required, how to present it and help in navigating the intricacies of the UK legal system.
Whether you are looking to take legal action against a medical professional or a medical organisation, there is a well-defined process.
Firstly you need to prove that the individual/company involved in the incident were negligent – not easy. We will now take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions.
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Medical accidents can take in a whole range of different issues including surgical errors, brain injuries, hospital infections, surgical accidents, cosmetic surgery and GP negligence, to name but a few. If you believe that the care you received was below the standard expected, then you may be able to claim negligence/compensation.
There are many definitions covering the difference between negligence and an accident. In simple terms, an accident is an “unfortunate happening” which has occurred “unintentionally”. Negligence is often defined as a lack of “ordinary care” or “skill” which in this instance would be associated with medical care.
The normal window of opportunity is three years from the diagnosis of an injury/illness received as a consequence of a medical accident. It is very important to notice the reference to the diagnosis date as opposed to the original treatment/accident date.
For example, you may unknowingly have been the victim of a medical accident which was not diagnosed until further down the line. Therefore, it would be unfair for the window of opportunity to begin on the date that you received the original treatment.
The vast majority of medical negligence claims are reviewed using the Bolam test. This test compares and contrasts the treatment received against that reasonably expected from an unconnected third-party in a similar position with similar experience/training.
In effect, this is a peer test to see if others in a similar situation would have acted differently. You will also require other evidence to support your claim, but the Bolam test is a very important factor.
The more evidence you are able to provide, the stronger your case and the more chance of a successful outcome. It will vary on a case to case basis, but common elements of evidence include:-
It is very important to show a detailed timeline of events up to and after your treatment. This will allow the defendant and the courts to see the wider picture and put everything into perspective.
Once you have gathered as much evidence as possible, it is time to approach a claims management company for further advice. They will review your evidence, details of your injuries and estimate your chances of a successful prosecution.
There may be occasions, often with medical negligence claims, where third-party opinion may be required which may involve a medical examination. The majority of personal injury claim companies will offer to manage your claim if they believe you have a minimum 60% chance of success.
If the personal injury claim company believe you have a minimum 60% chance of success, they will likely offer you a “no win, no fee” option. This will effectively remove your liability to cover the personal injury claim company’s expenses in pursuing your case.
In the event of a successful claim, they should be able to reclaim their expenses from the defendant. In addition, they will also look to negotiate a “success fee” for taking on your case.
A success fee is an arrangement whereby the claims management company would be entitled to a percentage of any compensation received. The traditional level for a success fee is around 25%, although this can differ depending on the type of case, the duration and the level of complexity.
In theory, you could pursue a compensation claim without professional assistance, assuming that you were up to speed on the intricacies of the UK legal system! Even the simplest of medical negligence cases require an in-depth understanding of legal proceedings otherwise a perfectly valid claim may be denied on a technicality.
When you bear in mind that many personal injury claim companies offer a “no-win, no fee” option, this significantly reduces the claimant’s financial risk.
Obviously, the level of compensation awarded will vary case-by-case. However, what you will find is there are two specific types of compensation which are referred to as general damages and special damages. General damages relate to financial compensation as a consequence of the claimant’s pain and suffering.
Special damages relate to financial recompense for costs incurred as a consequence of the accident and any costs going forward. This can include anything from medical treatment to home alterations and loss of earnings.
Highly unlikely, as the vast majority of compensation claims are either settled out of court or dropped at a relatively early stage where there is limited/no chance of success. In the event that the defendant wishes to challenge claims of negligence, then you may be asked to give evidence in court.
It is important to remember that you are not the person on trial, and you are simply there to give accurate details of the accident and the impact on your life.
It is safe to say that medical negligence claims can be amongst the most complicated and difficult to prove. That said if you have a valid medical negligence claim, it is important to pursue this not only for your compensation but also to hold negligent third parties to account.
Unless these parties are held to account, it is unlikely we would see any changes in procedures and the same accidents and injuries would occur time and time again going forward.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Medical Negligence Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for the negligence they have incurred, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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