Common Questions - Clinical Negligence Claims
Q. What are the different types of medical or clinical negligence claims?
Clinical and medical negligence are terms used interchangeably. They both apply to claims arising out of treatment where a medical professional has failed to comply with the duty of care owed to a patient, resulting in pain and suffering and financial loss. Such treatment includes care provided by NHS or private hospitals, GP and dentists' surgeries and any other organisation that organises or provides medical care, for instance nursing or care homes.
Typically, this includes a failure properly to diagnose or provide treatment, or the provision of inappropriate treatment which results in unnecessary pain and suffering, and perhaps also financial loss.
Claims can arise from treatment or a failure to treat in any medical discipline, including:
- Accident & Emergency (A&E Dept.) treatment
- Cosmetic treatment or surgery (e.g. poor outcome in facial, breast or abdominal surgery)
- Dentistry (e.g. poor outcome in treatment to teeth or failure to diagnose)
- General practitioner (GP) treatment (e.g. failure to diagnose or to refer to a hospital specialist)
- General or specialist surgery (e.g. spinal, abdominal, heart, hip, or knee surgery)
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology (including birth-related injuries like cerebral palsy, or loss of pregnancy)
- Oncology treatment (e.g. failure to diagnose or properly treat cancer)
- Orthopaedics (including fractures to the spine or skull, arm, leg, hip, pelvis, hands or feet)
- Pain management (e.g. for example arthritis, nerve damage or disease or pain syndromes)
Q. What is the amount of compensation I can expect to receive?
The outcome of any claim is very much dependent on the individual case. Some smaller claims settle for a few hundred or a few thousand pounds, whereas more serious claims or those requiring more complex settlements can win compensation of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds.
A successful claim could include compensation for the following:
- Unnecessary pain and suffering
- Loss of amenity, for instance not being able to pursue a sport or hobby
- Loss of earnings
- The cost of care or equipment
- The cost of continuing treatment
Q. Are there time limits on claims?
In the event of a claim the need to act quickly is of paramount importance, due to the time limits in place but also because of the need to obtain the evidence required to establish a claim and prove any financial losses.
The usual time limit before issuing a claim at Court is 3 years from the date of the treatment or failure to provide treatment, or, if later, 3 years from the date of knowledge of the injury.
In cases involving children, the 3 years will not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 18. A parent or guardian can bring a claim on the child's behalf.
In cases involving those lacking capacity, the time limit does not begin to run until the person recovers capacity, and if they never do so, the time limit does not apply at all. Similarly, if the person lacks capacity then an attorney or next of kin may be able to bring the claim on their behalf.
In cases where the patient is deceased, a claim can be made on behalf of their estate through their personal representatives or executors.
In certain circumstances, it may be possible to bring a claim outside the usual time limits, and we can address any concerns with you. It is vital to take legal advice immediately.
Q. How long will my claim take?
Again, this is very much case dependent and will vary depending on the type of injury or claim. More complex claims will take longer to resolve, and there are a number of factors which are usually outside our control, for instance whether there is an early admission of liability, experts' waiting lists and Court timetables.
A straightforward claim may take only a few months to complete, whereas complex claims often take a number of years. However, if that were the case, it might be possible to obtain an interim payment of compensation.
It is important to recognise the danger of settling a claim too soon, without allowing an injury or condition to settle so that there is an accurate prognosis, or without allowing sufficient time to obtain all of the necessary evidence.
In any event, our expert solicitors will keep you fully updated throughout the claim, to ensure you are aware of any deadlines and about the progression of your claim.
To start your claim, you should contact our Clinical Negligence Claims team on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.