Need to Know About Medical Claims?
Falling victim to medical negligence can be incredibly traumatic. Being ill is stressful enough in the first place, and the treatment can often be as unpleasant as the condition. Feeling, on top of all this, that a member of the medical community has failed to take proper care of you, and that you’ve suffered illness or injury as a result, can be devastating. Luckily, there are frameworks in place allowing you to complain, seek redress and claim compensation.
The Complaints Procedure
There are slight differences in the complaints procedure depending upon whether the medical malpractice you suffered took place via the NHS or a private practice. In both cases, your legal right to seek compensation is the same, but the NHS has a rigid complaints procedure in place, whereas private facilities may vary from place to place. The framework for complaining to the NHS is as follows:
- Complain directly to the practitioner you feel has been negligent. All NHS bodies will have a person responsible for dealing with complaints, and they may choose to bring in a mediator to help resolve the situation.
- If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can get in touch with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
- Seek help. Local Health Watch is a new ‘consumer champion’ designed to help people unhappy with their treatment at NHS facilities. It was set up under the Health and Social care Act 2012 and can be found at healthwatch.co.uk
The NHS sets a time limit of twelve months for a complaint to be dealt with, and private facilities will offer varying time limits. In general though, the sooner you complain about being treated in a negligent manner, the better, since any symptoms or injuries you are suffering will still be on-going and, if you go on to claim compensation for clinical negligence, making an official complaint will mark the first stage of building your case. Often, the only thing a patient wants is an apology and recognition that things went wrong. Medical negligence can often blight a patient’s life for years, however, so it’s only right that those who suffer should also be able to seek compensation.
Complexity of Medical Negligence Cases
In some ways a medical negligence case is just like any other personal injury claim – you’ve suffered an injury through someone else’s negligence, and want the responsible party to compensate you. The complexity arises, however, due to the sometimes difficult nature of proving that a member of medical staff was indeed negligent. If a surgeon removes the wrong limb then this may seem like a fairly obvious case, but there are often more subtle forms of negligence being looked at, such as the failure to spot an illness, or a doctor not explaining the risks of a procedure fully.
The mental health charity MIND explains that the standard used in medical negligence claims is known as the ‘Bolam’ test.
This is a legal definition which means that a medical practitioner will be found to have been negligent if the court accepts that their treatment fell below the standard which might reasonably be expected of someone working in their field. This applies to diagnoses, treatment or advice and covers all practitioners from a GP to a brain surgeon. A personal injury lawyer used to working in this field will be able to put you in touch with the experts capable of establishing that this is the case.
Because of the complexities of such matters a case for clinical negligence can take time to be finalised.
Damages For Medical Negligence
If you are successful in establishing that you’ve been the victim of medical negligence than you’ll be paid compensation worked out as two components:
General Damages: this is an amount designed to reflect your pain and suffering, either physical or psychological and also to reflect what is called a ‘loss of amenity’, i.e. the fact that your injuries interfere with your daily life.
Calculating Injury Compensation
Every year, the government publishes ‘Guidelines for the Assessment for General Damages in Personal Injuries’, which sets out the amounts generally awarded for specific injuries. This, together with current trends, means that it’s possible to come up with rough guideline figures for specific injuries such as those below:
- Severe heart damage – £66,00 – £98,500
- Loss of an arm below the elbow – £63,000 – £72,000
- Substantial loss of use of the arm – £25,750 – £39,300
The precise amount of medical negligence compensation awarded for any injury will depend upon the impact it has had upon your life, the chances of recovery, the treatment required and many other factors.
Special Damages: this amount is calculated in purely monetary terms, and is designed to reflect the financial impact the injury is going to have upon the rest of your life. Thus it will take into account factors such as:
- Lost earnings – both immediately following the accident and on into the future.
- Expenses – money to cover anything which you wouldn’t have had to spend had the negligence not taken place, i.e. the cost of on-going care, special equipment, home adaptation, medical treatment etc.
Are medical negligence claims dealt with on a no win no fee basis?
Many of the lawyers and law firms that make up our network of personal injury specialists would be happy to take on your medical malpractice claim on a no win no fee basis. This is a great option for those victims who are deserving of legal representation and compensation, yet uneasy about taking on the financial risk.
Can I have a chat about my claim with you?
Absolutely! We know you’ve been through a lot and we’d be happy to help discuss any of your questions or concerns. Please feel free to complete our no obligation form or give us a call at anytime to discuss your medical negligence claim.