NHS Hospital Medical Negligence
NHS hospital medical negligence claims are among the most complicated cases to execute successfully, yet are relatively frequent within the National Health Service. The Public Accounts Committee has reported that 10 percent of patients in UK hospitals are affected by medical negligence — this is approximated to equate to one million patients a year.
Your eligibility for compensation for NHS negligence is not reliant exclusively on whether an injury has been suffered. While it is possible that more concern or greater adherence to safety measures could have prevented an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition from transpiring, there is also the distinct chance that an injury could not have been prevented.
The article below provides general advice about medical negligence and the procedures for claiming compensation for NHS negligence; however, it is no substitute for independent professional legal advice and, if you or a loved one have suffered an injury which you believe is due to the poor professional performance of a medical practitioner, you should consult a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.
Liability in NHS Hospital Medical Claims for Negligence
As with any personal injury claim, an NHS hospital medical negligence claim will only succeed if you can show that the injury you sustained occurred directly as a result of the negligent actions — or inactions — of someone who bore a duty of care to you. Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators all have a duty of care to administer the highest standard of treatment and, if you should suffer a loss, injury or experience the deterioration of an existing condition which “on the balance of probabilities” was a result of a lack of skill or the ability to display that skill, the medical practitioner answerable for your injury will be the liable party in a medical claim for negligence.
What happens if Several Parties are to Blame?
There is the possibility that more than one medical practitioner or administrator was guilty for the error which led to your injuries. In these circumstances a solicitor making a medical claim for negligence on your behalf will compose a letter to each party which may be at fault, asking for their statements relating to the injury you sustained during the medical procedure.
Each party has twenty-one days in which to answer to the letter of claim, and subsequently three months in which to notify your solicitor whether they acknowledge full or partial liability for your injuries or none at all. Once the proportion of negligence is ascertained between each of the defendants, negotiations will begin to assess the value of your compensation for NHS negligence.
How to prove that Medical Negligence Occurred
It is difficult to prove that a medical practitioner was negligent in their treatment of a patient. In fact, the law only grants patients permission to initiate a medical claim for negligence if they can convey that in all probability the treatment they obtained was of a negligent nature and was a direct cause of an injury to their person. The testimony of independent medical experts may be imperative to proving that medical negligence manifested in the following circumstances.
- Incorrect diagnosis of an injury or illness or a postponement in making the diagnosis
- Proof that medical staff did not act speedily enough after receiving test results
- Poor performance during an operation or procedure
- Mistakes made when distributing medication or treatment
- Follow-up procedure was inadequate
- Not disclosing the full dangers of a treatment or medication to a patient
Many NHS medical negligence compensation claims are concluded before a case goes to court but, should litigation be essential, a court will decide if a competent doctor would have made the same decisions in the same situation as the defending physician. Ultimately, even if it can be proven that a doctor’s actions provoked your injury, if the court decides that the actions taken in specific circumstances were adequate, and that the doctor acted with reasonable judgement, a medical claim for negligence may prove to be unsuccessful.
Date of Knowledge and NHS Hospital Medical Negligence
The date of knowledge is a vital aspect in an NHS hospital medical negligence claims as, under the Statute of Limitations Act 1990, you are granted three years from the “date of knowledge” that an injury, loss or the deterioration of an existing condition has occurred in which to make a medical claim for negligence.
This does not mean you are confined to three years from the date on which the alleged medical negligence occurred, but that date on which you were diagnosed with a condition resulting from medical negligence or the date that an autopsy conveys that medical negligence was responsible for the demise of a loved one.
Claims for compensation for NHS negligence involving children are subject to different rules, as minors are not legally permitted to make personal injury claims. Children´s medical claims for negligence can be initiated by a parent or guardian acting on the child´s behalf until the child reaches the age of eighteen — at which point the child matures into a legal adult and has three years in which to make NHS medical negligence compensation claims of their own.
Determining the Value of Compensation for NHS Negligence
The value of compensation for NHS negligence is determined using a variety of different factors and consequently you may obtain significantly more or less than somebody else who has endured exactly the same loss, injury or deterioration in an existing condition. Your solicitor should go through each aspect of NHS medical negligence compensation with you to include the elements of:-
Trauma in Medical Negligence
Compensation is paid for injuries sustained due to the negligent actions of the medical practitioner. The incident itself is not as important as the injuries suffered unless you can affirm that it caused psychological conflict. Nonetheless, your solicitor will make a point of emphasising the trauma and panic suffered by the claimant in order to acquire sympathy during negotiations with the aim that your case will be perceived in a better light.
Special Medical Damages
Usually, the costs charged by specialists for any treatment you have had to undergo as a result of the injury will be compensated completely. Even though specific injuries are more arduous than others, the value of a case depends on the severity of the injury and whether there are apparent scars or not. The amount of time it takes to recover, and persistence of the injury will also be examined.
Your Prognosis and Medical Claims for Negligence
If an injury is conceived to be of a permanent nature or else it is established that it will take many years to heal, then it will result in a greater amount of compensation. The age of the victim is also vital – the younger someone is, the longer they are expected to have to cope with an injury. For example, should a 25 year old man lose a hand, they are assumed to have to live without that limb for 60 years or more. A man of 65 who sustains the same injury will have to live with the injury for a likelihood of 20 years, possibly less. If a doctor testifies that the claimant must avail of further specialist treatment in the future, this will again motivate an increase in how much compensation is awarded.
Medical Claims for Negligence and Quality of Life
How your injury impacts your quality of life and ability to perform everyday activities will also be taken into account when a solicitor evaluates medical claims for negligence. If your injury hinders you from enjoying pastimes which were part of your life before medical negligence took place, this will also be combined with your NHS hospital medical negligence compensation claim.
This “loss of amenity” can be temporary or permanent, but may be a substantial aspect of your NHS medical negligence compensation claim. Each individual claimant has a distinctive quality and perception of life and this makes no two medical claims for negligence exact — even when the injuries suffered are similar. In order to accurately determine your loss of amenity, it is advisable to maintain a diary — documenting any regular activity which you are now unable to do.
Medical Negligence and the Loss of Earning Power
The loss of earning power in claiming compensation for NHS negligence will also make a difference to the amount of compensation for medical negligence you are eligible to. One problem encountered by solicitors is that of dissatisfied claimants who compare their case to a similar one they heard about in the news where the victim claimed £100,000 more than them.
What they fail to grasp is that the other person’s case may have had differing circumstances. For instance, the claimant in the other case may have spent longer out of employment so were eligible to further compensation for loss of earnings. Or else they may simply have a career that pays substantially better. The severity of the injury is only relevant in this instance when it establishes how long the claimant will spend out of work due to injuries they have suffered.
Get Specific Advice about NHS Medical Negligence Compensation
No two compensation claims for NHS hospital medical negligence are the same because of the way in which an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition can affect an individual. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek professional legal advice about claiming compensation for NHS negligence which is relevant to your specific circumstances.
Many solicitors now offer free preliminary advice in order that you may establish you have a medical claim for negligence which is worth your while to pursue; and to find out the procedures for doing so. If you believe that you have suffered an avoidable injury due to the negligence of a medical practitioner who owed you a duty of care, it would be in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your injury with a solicitor without delay.