Clinical negligence is a complex area of the law and you should only instruct a specialist solicitor with experience of such claims. These claims used to be called medical negligence claims but all clinicians can be negligent so whether it be a doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife who has treated you if you feel they have caused you harm in the course of their treatment of you, it’s essential that you speak to a specialist clinical negligence solicitor as soon as possible after the incident takes place to avoid any problems that may arise with the time limit to bring a claim.
What’s involved in clinical negligence claims?
As the claimant, the burden of proof is on you. This means it’s up to your solicitor to prove that the clinician has both breached the duty of care all clinicians owe to their patient and as a result you have been left with a physical and/or mental injury that would not have resulted from the treatment you were having if there was no breach of duty.
It’s important to remember that unless there was negligence you cannot claim solely in the following circumstances:
- The treatment was not a success.
- The treatment did not produce the results you hoped it would.
- The outcome of treatment would have happened anyway.
What is my role in proving clinical negligence?
Often, a clinical negligence claim is preceded by a complaint being made to the person or body responsible for the treatment. There are set complaints procedures for most clinicians. Normally you would make the complaint yourself rather than through your solicitor. Any complaint should ideally include the following information:
- The time, date and location of the treatment.
- A description of exactly what happened during the treatment.
- The names of all individuals involved if known.
- A clear explanation of why you are complaining.
- A list of questions you want to be answered.
If your case relates to an NHS hospital you should refer to the NHS’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
How does my complaint affect my claim?
You should expect to receive a full written response to your complaint. At this point, you may be given an explanation or apology if it is accepted that your complaint is valid. However, it’s important to remember that no matter what the outcome, the complaints procedure is totally separate to any clinical negligence claim. However, your letter of complaint and the response to it are often very important in establishing if there is a clinical negligence claim.
What’s involved in making a clinical negligence claim?
Here at Bray & Bray, the first thing we will do when exploring your clinical negligence claim is discuss your case with you in detail to find out why you think something has gone wrong and why. We will analyse all the supporting evidence to assess your claim’s potential chances of success. To do this we will need the following:
- Supporting documents such as your letter of complaint stating all the details of the treatment.
- Access to your medical records.
- Permission to request an independent medical report which will be necessary for any claim.
When we have all this information, we will be in a position to advise on the next steps, which will vary according to the nature and complexity of your case.
However, there is always the need for independent expert evidence from someone who is expert in the same discipline as the treatment you think was negligent. This is usually a paper report on whether there was a breach of duty to you and there is no examination of you needed for this report.
At a later stage there will be a further expert report needed called a causation report to establish what harm, if any, that the breach of duty was responsible for.
If all elements of the claim stack up then a condition and prognosis report will be needed and you will need to be examined for this.
What kind of clinical negligence claims go to court?
We can act on your behalf in claims including the following:
- Birth injuries
- Nerve damage
- Accident and emergency treatment
- Lack of care for the elderly or infirm resulting in conditions such as bedsores.
- Any form of surgery
- Dental treatment
- Poor treatment during pregnancy
These are some of the most common causes of clinical negligence claims; however, our specialist clinical negligence solicitors are able to take on many other cases. These vary from cases where victims are fully recovered to cases where victims of negligent treatment are left with life-changing repercussions.
How is clinical negligence proven?
Clinical negligence can be difficult to prove because of the need to prove both that there was a breach of duty in the way you were treated but that in addition you suffered harm as a result. Legal principles have been developed by the Courts in previous cases and you may hear arguments mentioning the ‘Bolitho test’ and the ‘Bolam test’. Your specialist clinical negligence solicitor will guide you through the legal principles and tests which determine if you can claim.
How much compensation will I get?
It’s impossible to say. The harm caused by negligence varies from one case to the next. Every client’s injury is individual to them and should be treated as such without assuming one type of injury always gives rise to the same amount of pain and suffering in people. Each of us is different and the law values injuries on an individual basis. That said, guidelines do exist to help value pain and suffering but the financial losses resulting from negligence are peculiar to the person and claim.
Clinical negligence solicitors
Clinical negligence can have serious consequences in terms of physical and mental health problems. If you believe you have been negatively impacted by clinical negligence, get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors. We will use our expertise and supportive, plain English approach to help you through every stage of what can be a stressful process.
You can contact us on the following numbers. Please ask for Ian Johnson or a member of the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team: