Free Supermarket Accident Claim Assessment Free Supermarket Accident Claim Assessment

NHS Hospital Medical Negligence Claims

Around 10 percent of all National Health Service patients in the UK have been the victim of medical negligence according to figures from The Public Accounts Committee, and although NHS hospital medical negligence claims are consequently common in the UK, they are among the most difficult type of claim to execute effectively.

For example, you are not automatically entitled to seek compensation from a medical practitioner or NHS hospital if you are injured while receiving treatment, as there is often the possibility that an injury sustained in hospital could not have been prevented.

However, you may be entitled to claim compensation if you or a loved one have sustained an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition which was avoidable or was the result of a poor professional performance by a medical professional who had a duty of care towards you.

This article is intended to provide information about medical negligence and the steps involved in claiming compensation; it is not a substitute for seeking legal advice and if you or a loved one has been injured as a result of the negligence of a medical professional you should speak to a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

How is it Proved that Medical Negligence Occurred?

Injured parties considering pursuing NHS hospital medical negligence claims should note that it is not easy to prove that a medical professional was at fault for your injuries, and that the law only allows patients to pursue compensation from a medical practitioner if they can prove that their injury was in all probability caused by negligence.

To establish a case that you were injured while receiving treatment, you may have to show that negligence occurred in one of the following areas —

  • Delay in making diagnosis of an illness or injury or incorrect diagnosis
  • Evidence that hospital staff did not act fast enough after receiving test results
  • Inadequate execution of procedure or operation
  • Mistakes made in provision of treatment or medication
  • An insufficient follow-up procedure
  • Not making clear the full extent of the risks of a treatment before administering it

Many NHS hospital medical negligence claims can be resolved by negotiation when a strong enough case is presented. Where there is clear and indisputable evidence of negligence, an insurance company representing the negligent medical practitioner or hospital may agree to a medical injury settlement out of court to avoid further costs.

If the case does go to court, a judge will decide whether a competent medical professional would have made the same decisions as was made by the defendant in your case. The court’s decision may not be made on whether your injuries were caused by the medical professional however. A judge could decide not to award compensation if the doctor’s actions were reasonable in the circumstances — regardless of whether or not they caused your injury.

Date of Knowledge in NHS Hospital Medical Negligence Claims

NHS hospital medical negligence claims are subject to the same time constraints as most other claims for compensation. Claimants have three years from the “date of knowledge” — the date on which the injury or the deterioration of an existing condition was first discovered, not always the date on which it was inflicted — in which to pursue a medical injury settlement.

Children who were injured while receiving treatment are subject to different time limits than adults. As children cannot instruct a solicitor or pursue compensation from a medical practitioner on their own, a parent/guardian must act on their behalf as a “Litigation Friend”. A parent/guardian is required until the child reaches 18 years of age, at which point they will be legally able to pursue the case themselves.

Procedure if More Than One Party is Liable

When the decision is made to pursue compensation from a medical practitioner your solicitor will send a “Letter of Claim” to the medical professional you believe to be at fault. Sometimes a case arises where more than one party is at fault: the same procedure applies in this case, with each of the parties you believe to be liable receiving a “Letter of Claim”.

Once the letter has been posted the parties have 21 days in which to acknowledge receipt of the letter, and a further 90 days in which to decide whether or not to admit liability. If the defendants admit liability they will decide between themselves what proportion of the damages each will be responsible for. If not, your solicitor will begin proceedings to get litigation underway.

Determining the Value of a Medical Injury Settlement

No two NHS hospital medical negligence claims are alike; the amount of compensation two parties with the same injury may be awarded can vary considerably depending on the individual circumstances in each case. Parties seeking compensation from a medical practitioner should speak with a solicitor who will be able to advise them as to how much compensation they could be entitled to. Here are some of the different elements that can influence the size of an NHS hospital medical negligence compensation settlement:-

Joint Liability in Medical Negligence Claims

NHS hospital medical negligence claims are not always black and white, and there are a variety of different factors which can affect the end result of a settlement. For instance, if two parties — one of which could be the claimant — have admitted to liability are arguing as to which should bear the greater cost, how should liability be determined? Should a claimant forfeit their right to compensation because they in some way contributed to their own accident?

When a claimant has been proven to have in some way contributed to their own accident they are said to be guilty of ‘contributory negligence’. If contributory negligence is found to have factored in a claimant’s injury — which could have occurred through the self-exacerbation of an injury, not communicating the full symptoms of an illness or failing to take medication for example — a portion of the final settlement will be deducted to reflect the their role in the injury. Failing to make appointments, refusing to follow a doctor’s advice or failing to adhere to cooperate with doctors and staff could see a portion of the final medical injury settlement deducted.

Trauma After Being Injured While Receiving Treatment

NHS hospital medical negligence claims are paid due to a claimant being injured while receiving treatment from a medical practitioner. Unless there is psychological damage caused during the incident itself, the value of the medical injury settlement is based on the pain experienced at the time of the injury and the impact caused by the injuries after the event.

Despite this, your solicitor will still highlight the psychological trauma caused by the incident when pursing compensation from a medical practitioner — either to gain sympathy at negotiations or to cast your case in a better light should the case reach court.

Costs Covered by Special Damages

Special damages — which cover the quantifiable costs within a medical injuries settlement – enable the recovery of any medical expenses or monetary cost incurred as a result of the accident and expenses which may be incurred in the future. Even though some injuries received during treatment may be more painful than others, the value of special damages for future care will be determined on the seriousness of the injury, the length of time needed to recovery from the injury – if at all – and whether issues such as visible scarring could be resolved by plastic surgery; which would then be accounted for in the costs covered by special damages.

Long Term or Permanent Prognosis

If an injury sustained while receiving treatment is believed to be permanent, then a larger medical injury settlement is likely to be awarded. Compensation from a medical practitioner may also be influenced by the age of the victim who was injured while receiving treatment—- for example, a 25-year-old who loses his hand may be awarded a larger medical injury settlement than a 60-year-old who suffers the same injury because the younger man has to live with the disability for longer.

Changes to Quality of Life

Claimants who are successful in their pursuit of NHS hospital medical negligence claims should also be compensated for the impact their injury has had on their quality of life. Your medical injury settlement should therefore also take into account the effect your injury has had on your ability to go about your “habitual” life and perform day-to-day tasks as you had done before the accident. The settlement may include compensation for your inability to participate in activities which you used to enjoy — sports for example.

This element of compensation, known as “loss of amenity”, can have a significant impact on the value of your settlement. Even if injuries sustained while receiving treatment are similar to those experienced by somebody else, the quality of life you enjoyed before the injury can make a difference to how much compensation for a medical injury they receive.

A physically active person who exercises regularly could be awarded more compensation from a medical practitioner than one who watches television for most of the day for example. In order to claim compensation for loss of amenity, it is recommended that you keep a diary of your time after the accident — including the opportunities to participate in activities which you had to decline because of the impact of the injury.

Impact of Ability to Earn

A loss of earning power can also have a significant impact on the amount of compensation awarded as part of an NHS hospital medical negligence claims settlement. A common complaint among claimants who are injured while receiving treatment is that they often read about another claimant with a similar injury who is awarded a much greater medical injury settlement than them.

What some claimants do not realise is that the person that they read about may have sought their compensation from a medical practitioner in an entirely different set of circumstances. The person they read about may simply have been earning more than them — meaning that the recovery of income for time missed from work would be for a larger amount. Alternatively, they might simply have been out of work for longer because of their injury.

No Win, No Fee Claims in Seeking Compensation from a Medical Practitioner

If you believe that you have valid reason to pursue compensation from a medical practitioner you should speak with a solicitor who specialises in NHS hospital medical negligence claims as soon as possible. If the solicitor believes that you have a strong case against the hospital or medical practitioner, they may offer you the option to have your case presented on a No Win No Fee basis. A No Win No Fee arrangement is one in which the solicitor offers to take your case on the understanding that they will waive their legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful.

While a No Win No Fee arrangement may appear to be a favourable option, it is not for everyone. If your medical injury claim for compensation is unsuccessful you may still be responsible for the legal fees of the defendant and any added expenses your solicitor may have incurred. It is also important to note that, just because your solicitor offers to take your case on a No Win No Fee basis, it does not mean the claim is guaranteed to succeed.