Clinical Negligence Frequently Asked Questions
Clinical or medical negligence can be a complicated area but it doesn’t have to be and you certainly don’t need to worry about it – that’s what PH is for, to guide you through everything and make it as easy as possible to make a claim and get what you deserve.
To get you started, here are some basic answers to the questions we get asked most. For more information please call our friendly staff on 0800 7311 874 or request a call back.
Remember, we’re here to help you.
Q. How do I claim for clinical / medical negligence in court?
A. It is important to seek specialist legal help from an accredited Clinical Negligence lawyer who will investigate the case by recourse to complaint replies records and expert opinion before advising on the strength and value of the claim before advising on litigation. The reality is that the vast majority of successful clinical negligence claims are settled way before they ever reach the courtroom.
In many cases though, the patient and their family are simply looking for the hospital or health provider to explain and apologise for what happened, and to receive assurances that the same won’t happen to someone else. It may be that once you have received information on the actual events there is enough evidence to next consider a case for compensation. A specialist clinical negligence solicitor will be able to advise you whether legal action is advisable.
Q. How do you prove clinical / medical negligence?
A. You have to prove that no responsible practitioner – whether a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, paramedic or any other medical professional – would have approved the care provided and that this caused some injury or loss.
Q. How long after clinical / medical negligence occurred can I make a claim?
A. With a few exceptions, a claim has to be started within 3 years from the date of the alleged negligence or, if you had no knowledge that your treatment was negligent at the time, from the point when you would be expected to realise your treatment was negligent, to start the 3 year period running. Different rules apply to children and patients who are under disability.
It is therefore important to instruct your solicitor as soon as possible as he or she will need time to investigate and prepare your case before a claim can be started.
Q. How is clinical / medical negligence paid?
A. If your case is successful you are paid by an award of compensation which can be a lump sum, periodical payments or a combination of the two. Most awards are in full and final settlements.
Q. Why are people afraid to complain about clinical / medical negligence?
A. The feeling that a doctor’s judgement is unimpeachable persists. Because modern medicine can achieve extraordinary things doctors have an aura of power. Few patients relish a dispute with a powerful opponent especially one with the benefit of huge defence resources. They may even fear it will somehow adversely affect their future treatment. In short, patients are reluctant to fall out with their doctor.
It’s also possible that the doctor in question has been the family GP for many years and patients can be reluctant to raise a complaint or sue someone who is sometimes considered a family friend, fearing that they may ruin their careers or cost them financially.
However, patients should bear in mind that all doctors and medical practitioners are covered by insurance and the individual themselves, except in severe cases, will not be directly affected. Suing for medical negligence is more about ensuring your rights are upheld and that such mistakes won’t be made again.
Q. How many clinical / medical negligence cases reach court each year in the UK?
A. Only a tiny percentage of the claims that are started (less than 1%) reach the court stage. This is because the vast majority of cases are settled or abandoned before a court hearing.