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Clinical negligence FAQs

At Ramsdens Solicitors, our team solicitors are on hand to help if you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional. Below, we have outlined some of the most commonly asked questions we are asked by our clients and prospective clients.

WHAT IS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?

Every doctor, surgeon, dentist or other medical professional has the duty to treat each patient with the utmost care and diligence, and in line with best medical practice. Despite the fact that health care provided in the UK is usually of a high standard, things do go wrong.

Modern procedures can be extremely technical and complex, and patients can sometimes be cared for by several healthcare professionals, no matter what their issue is. If the results of treatment are not as good as expected, or if complications have arisen, it does not always mean that someone is accountable

However, in some cases, doctors and other healthcare professionals do make mistakes that could have been avoided with more care, skill or organisation. Sometimes, an operation may be performed incompetently, or a GP may fail to recognise the symptoms of a serious illness, or a baby may sustain an injury because of the failures of specialist staff.

AM I ENTITLED TO MAKE A MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM?

As with any injury claim, you must be able to show that your condition was caused by the negligence of a medical professional. In such cases, it is not enough to say that the treatment you have undergone was unsuccessful, you must be able to provide more detail. The harm caused needs to be serious enough to make the costs of making a claim worth paying. In many cases, it is not worth pursuing legal action if the injury is minor, or if a rapid recovery is expected.

In order to proceed with your case, speaking to a specialist medical negligence solicitor is recommended. At Ramsdens Solicitors, we are happy to talk to you about your circumstances, and provide an initial opinion about a possible negligence claim.

If you or a family member has received substandard medical treatment, speak to the team at Ramsdens.

HOW LONG DOES A MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM TAKE?

Medical negligence claims require a certain amount of investigation before a reliable account of the prospects of success can be given. Generally, a patient’s full medical notes will be required, plus a report from an independent medical expert who can give an opinion on whether or not the circumstances of the case equates to medical negligence.

Generally, the more complex and severe the injury is, the longer the case will take to unfold. It is not advisable to settle an injury claim at the first available opportunity, as the claimant cannot reopen a case further down the line if they deteriorate. Roughly, the average time to settle this type of claim is between 12 and 18 months, but this time can be a lot shorter in simple cases where liability is admitted quickly

WHAT CAN I CLAIM FOR?

As part of your medical negligence case, you can claim for the following things:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Harmed employment prospects
  • Medical costs - including the cost of care and medication
  • Loss of amenity

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE DOCTOR WHO TREATED ME IF I BRING A CLAIM?

If you make a medical negligence claim, the litigation runs entirely separately from any additional actions taken against a member of medical staff internally by the hospital or GP surgery they work in. In some less serious cases, no direct action will be taken against the doctor. However, if the injury is severe, an investigation against that particular member of staff may be launched.

CAN I SUE MY DOCTOR?

If you believe you have grounds to sue your doctor, a solicitor will help you to launch proceedings if there is sufficient reason for this course of action. GP negligence is something that can have a serious impact on your life, and the lives of your loved ones. Common cases of this type can include:

  • Wrongful diagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to refer
  • Errors with prescriptions

It is not only doctors who may be at fault in your claim, so with the correct legal assistance, we can help to establish where the blame lies, and the correct course of action to take.

IS THERE A TIME LIMIT FOR MAKING A CLAIM?

You must take action for compensation within three years of the date you first knew, or could reasonably have known that something had gone wrong with your medical treatment. In most cases, the date of knowledge will usually be quite soon after the treatment has taken place, but sometimes, the consequences of a particular event do not become clear until months - or sometimes years - later.

Common circumstances include:

  • If the person claiming compensation is a child, the three-year time limit only expires on his or her 21st birthday
  • There is no limitation period for those people with a legal disability, for example, a mental disorder
  • If a person has died as a result of the negligence, the three-year time limit runs from the date of death

Time limits are strictly enforced and it is rare that a judge will exercise discretion to allow a case to be brought “out of time”.

We recommend taking time to start proceedings well before the end of the limitation period, as the sooner a case is investigated, the more likely it is that certain documents will still be available, and that people will be able to remember what happened