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Can I make a claim for accident and emergency (A&E) compensation?

The Accident and Emergency department of a hospital is a place most people will visit following a moderate to severe injury, or if you’ve contracted an illness that could be hazardous to your health if we aren’t able to get a GP appointment in time. If you’ve received treatment at an A&E department that you feel was negligent, then you may be able to make a claim for medical negligence.

An experienced solicitor will be able to let you know whether you might be able to make a claim – you can get free advice by calling 0800 234 6438 or by filling in this simple form.

Negligence in A&E departments

While the nurses and hospital staff in A&E are highly trained, mistakes can sometimes happen. Accident & Emergency units are often extremely busy and the sheer number of patients with a wide variety of problems can lead to errors.

Among the mistakes which can result in an injury to patients are the following:

  • A patient being sent home without an underlying problem being properly detected and treated
  • Signs or symptoms of serious conditions being missed
  • The failure to offer necessary measures such as x-rays or scans
  • Not arranging for tests to determine the severity of a condition

While you might think that accidents are bound to happen, it can feel especially unfair if you’ve become injured whilst receiving treatment from people whose job it is to keep you safe – especially if this occurred due to lack of care on their part.

How can I prove accident and emergency negligence happened?

To successfully bring a hospital negligence claim you’ll need to prove that the medical professional or hospital staff responsible for your injuries was negligent – or at least that the expected standard of care didn’t take place with your treatment. This means proving:

  • That they owed you a duty of care
  • That they breached this duty
  • That you suffered harm as a result

When assessing the standard of reasonable care in negligence cases involving doctors, the ‘Bolam test’ applies. This states that a doctor is negligent if they failed to act in accordance with a practice that is considered acceptable by a responsible body of medical professionals.

What evidence will I need for an A&E claim?

Claims for medical negligence are some of the most complex compensation cases. For this reason, it’s important to gather as much information as possible regarding anything that shows that the staff who treated you were negligent. You should make a note of any relevant facts such as:

  • The date and time of your visit
  • The condition you went to hospital with
  • If possible, the names of the staff who treated you
  • The nature of the treatment offered
  • The reasons why you feel this treatment was in some way negligent

A specialist solicitor will be able to help you gather this information and come to a quick and accurate decision as to whether you have a good case for negligence.

They’ll start putting your case together on a no win no fee basis; this means that if you don’t win your case, then you won’t pay any court costs or solicitors fees. If you do win, then you’ll pay your solicitor as a percentage of the compensation you receive – this amount will be agreed between you and your solicitor before starting your case.

What’s the procedure for claiming compensation from the NHS?

If you’ve received negligent treatment from an NHS medical professional, your claim will be brought through NHS Resolution, the body that manages negligence and other claims against the NHS in England on behalf of its member organisations. This applies whether you make a claim against:

Your specialist medical negligence solicitor will send a letter of claim to NHS Resolution, outlining your claim and the breach of duty, including the following information: the clinician responsible and the date of negligence, the nature and extent of the symptoms you suffered due to the breach in duty, and the level of compensation you’re seeking. Your solicitor will then work hard to negotiate the compensation you deserve.

Making a complaint to the NHS

If you’ve been injured whilst on an A&E ward, you might consider writing a letter of complaint to the NHS trust responsible for the incident. You have the right when you make a complaint to have it thoroughly and efficiently investigated and be informed of the conclusion of any investigation.

The NHS complaints procedure is not a method of claiming compensation, as its purpose is to identify and remedy problems – but it can be a useful way of understanding what happened and give you stronger evidence to bring a medical negligence case.

How much A&E compensation can I claim?

Every personal injury claim is unique – which means it can be very difficult to say quite how much compensation you might receive. The amount awarded will be decided based on factors such as the type and severity of any injury or condition involved, and any expenses you’ve had to pay for. For example, this might include:

  • Travel expenses for getting to medical appointments
  • Medical bills for corrective surgery, medication etc
  • Lost earnings from time taken off work

It’s important that you keep as many records as you can, including items such as receipts and wage slips. When all the circumstances of your case are known, your solicitor will be able to give you an estimate of the amount you might receive.

How long do I have to make a claim?

You have three years from the date of the injury to make a claim, although an exception can be made if you weren’t aware of the impact of your injury until a later date, in which case the three years will be counted from this date instead. Another exception to this rule includes cases involving children under the age of 18. The law says someone under the age of 18 cannot pursue a compensation claim, so they either have three years to bring their own claim once they turn 18, or a parent or guardian can launch a claim on the child’s behalf beforehand, acting as what is known as a ‘litigation friend’.

Making a claim against either a private clinic or an NHS hospital can be a daunting prospect. If you think you may have a claim, then you can get in touch with a solicitor on 0800 234 6438 or fill in the claim form below.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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If you win your case, your solicitor's success fee will be taken from the compensation you are awarded - up to a maximum of 25%. Your solicitor will discuss any fees before starting your case.