Medical professionals should be the people you can trust most but unfortunately, just like any other line of work, there are people working in the medical industry who are sometimes less than professional. Of course, this is not acceptable and if you feel that you have been ill-treated by a medical professional then you have every right to make a claim for compensation.
If you or a family member want to make a claim for medical negligence, then one of the first questions on your mind will almost certainly be – how much compensation am I likely to get? This is quite a tricky question to answer conclusively since no two cases will be exactly the same. That said, it is possible to provide an estimate based on the type of claim you want to make.
How much compensation for medical negligence you receive will depend on the severity of the damage caused and how much it affects you, both now and in the future. The compensation provided is for any pain and suffering as well as for any money lost through your inability to work and earn money.
When it comes to compensation claims for medical negligence, there are a few different categories of claims that people make. These include –
Factors that affect the amount of compensation you will receive
How much compensation for clinical negligence you receive will depend on a few key factors. These include:-
If you want to find out more about medical negligence cases and the process of claiming for medical negligence, read our complete guide here.
We are a regulated, professional claims management company that has vast experience in dealing with medical negligence claims. You can have peace of mind knowing that our solicitors:
With these credentials, you can have peace of mind knowing that your claim will be in safe hands.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of medical negligence or malpractice then this practical guide will take you through the process of how to claim for medical negligence.
There are several reasons why you may be seeking to make a medical negligence claim. You could be seeking an official apology from a healthcare provider, or looking for improvements to be made for certain medical services. You could be seeking financial compensation to give you the means to pay for the additional support you now need due to the injury you have suffered.
The first step to take in order to try and get an apology is to lodge a formal complaint to either the hospital or care service provider you hold responsible. This is fairly straightforward as all healthcare providers have a complaints procedure in place which can be accessed on their website. By obtaining that apology you may also raise awareness as to how the current system just isn't working and bring about changes that reduce the risk of what has happened to you happening to others.
The aim of making a medical negligence claim with a view to receiving financial compensation should be to help pay for an additional care and support you now need. Financial redress aims to put you back into the position you were prior to sustaining whatever medical mishap had befallen you. The first stage of this process is to consult a solicitor which is best done sooner rather than later due to the medical negligence claims time limit. Your solicitor will help you by;
Securing the services of an experienced solicitor who is a specialist in the field of medical negligence claims is vital. These kinds of cases can be extremely complex so you need the right person in your corner from the off. Your solicitor will be able to explain everything to you in a language you understand and will also be a source of support through every step of the process.
There are different funding options that will be available to you, which are:
Out of these options, the most popular by far is a conditional fee agreement (CFA), usually known as a No Win No Fee* arrangement. Not only does this relieve you of the stress of having to find the funds for your solicitor's fees, it also gives you assurance that your solicitor will do their very best for you because if you don’t win your case, they don't get paid. While it used to be unusual to find a solicitor to take on a medical negligence case on a No Win No Fee* basis, this position has changed drastically in recent years which is a great help to those who wouldn't be otherwise able to make a claim. Remember your solicitor must provide you with a client care letter which will set out the firm’s fee structure and procedures after your initial consultation. Your solicitor also has a duty to keep you updated on costs throughout your claim.
Once the funding options have been decided upon the next step is to gain access to any relevant medical notes or records pertaining to your case from any hospital and/or health practitioners involved. These reports will be used by a team of independent, medical experts to prepare your report. Your solicitor can obtain access to these records once you have given permission to them.
There are three distinct issues which are addressed during a medical negligence action as follows;
Breach of Duty -This determines whether the care given to the claimant fell below a reasonable standard. This will be judged according to both the medical knowledge and the standards that were prevalent at the time the negligence is alleged to have occurred.
Causation - The link between the breach of the duty of care and the injury that has been sustained. Did the medical professional’s conduct make a significant contribution to the current state of affairs? It has to be proved that there is no other cause of the disability.
Quantum - The level of monetary compensation that you should be awarded based on the severity of the illness or injury that has been sustained.
Medical negligence claims can be a complex process as such, the time it takes to finalise is very much dependent on how complicated your case is as well as other determining factors. These can range from:
You normally have 3 years from the alleged date the incident occurred or from the date when you first became aware of the repercussions of this incident. When it is a child who was the victim of medical negligence, the 3-year limit does not begin until they reach the age of 18. It always recommended that you start the ball rolling as soon as possible when everything is likely to be still fresh in your mind. If the injured party has a significant intellectual impairment, whether as a result of the negligence or not, the general 3-year time limit does not apply so even if this person is over 21 and the incident occurred when they were born it is still worth seeking a solicitor’s advice.
If you are pursuing a medical negligence claim on a child's behalf it is possible they will be eligible for, Community Legal Services funding (CLS), which used to be known as Legal Aid. There are two parts to these criteria which have to be met for a claim to be funded via this method, which is merit and means. The commission will have to be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds in existence for starting an investigation and, where it is appropriate, for the case to progress to a full claim. The child's financial circumstances are also relevant as with the child being the claimant is it his or her means that are assessed, not their parents.
There are effectively two Stages to Funding
You must possess the necessary mental capacity in order to make a legal claim for yourself. If a person lacks the mental capacity they can have a claim lodged on their behalf by a third party. This person is referred to as a 'litigation friend'. As a child cannot by law lodge their own claim they will always have a litigation friend, usually one of their parents. When a litigation friend is in place it is they who will both choose and subsequently instruct the solicitor and act in the claimants best interests. It is the claimant's financial means which determine whether or not his/her legal costs will be covered or not and not the litigation friend.
Once everything has been put in place, such as funding, the next step is your solicitor requesting copies of all relevant medical records and notes from your GP and the hospital. She will then check them over to ensure that they are complete and in the correct order before forwarding them to the independent expert/s to prepare their report. Your records remain strictly confidential during this time.
The independent experts will usually consist of professionals such as obstetricians, paediatricians, midwives, neurologists and radiologists. It is essential at this early stage that your solicitor correctly identifies the experts needed to assess your claim. If these experts prepare a report that finds the medical treatment received was of an acceptable standard and in accordance with that deemed as normal practice there will be no claim. If, however, their report concludes that the victim received sub-standard medical treatment and that a 'breach of duty of care' occurred then the claim will progress to the next stage.
Your solicitor should possess the understanding of the report in order to be able to explain the report fully so you fully understand what it contains. It could be appropriate at this time to also have present at the meeting a barrister and those experts who prepared the report. They will be happy to answer any of your questions and if you are unhappy with their report you are entitled to request a second opinion from a different expert within the same professional field. However, you will need to discuss the funding options with your solicitor.
If the expert's reports are supportive of your claim your solicitor will then contact the defendant setting out the full details of your claim. This will include such details as your allegations and the approximate amount of compensation you are seeking, the latter being dependent on the extent and nature of the claim.
The defendant then has 4 months to respond to this correspondence and their response will often give you an early indication of the outcome of the claim and could possibly even include an admission of liability. If this is the case and the defendant does admit liability at this early stage it eliminates the need for a trial. Even if court proceedings do begin many cases are still settled out of court when the two parties agree on the level of compensation to be awarded.
There is a possibility that the trial could be split. When this happens the first step is to consider liability for causation and breach of duty. If liability is then proven or admitted to, the compensation will then be considered at a later date. There are several reasons for this including the following;
The one main advantage of a split trial is that you can be certain of the final outcome.
The monetary compensation is awarded to the claimant in order to provide them with the financial resources needed to obtain the specialist care and support they need and to give them the chance to have a choice when it comes to this provision.
The compensation is awarded to place the victim in the same position as they would have been had the negligence not taken place. However, this is a very grey area as it is impossible to do this for somebody who, due to their impairment caused by the negligence, had every aspect of their daily life affected and will do so for their rest of their life.
There are numerous factors to take into consideration when a compensation award is being calculated. The future expenses which are specific to the needs of the individual are calculated by following advice from a wide range of health experts including occupational therapists, rehabilitation consultants, physiotherapists and psychologists. The amount of compensation awarded should reflect the following;
A compensation award is usually split into two separate elements;
If the compensation awarded is for a child then the court will usually hold the money for them until they reach 18. After this it can be paid out for that person to take control of it, the assistance of a case manager is often used in such instances. If any individual who is awarded compensation is incapable of managing their own financial affairs properly the money will be administered by the Court of Protection. However, parents or spouses are usually involved in the awards management along with any decision-making relating to it.