Medical mishap: can you make a claim?
Medical mistakes are rare, but can be devastating for those involved. Could you be entitled to compensation?
Medical negligence cases in the UK are rising rapidly, and headlines often talk of big money pay outs for patients and families who have suffered anguish or loss.
While millions of patients undergo NHS and private medical examinations, surgery and treatment every day with only positive results, when things do go wrong the impact can be devastating.
For those trying to cope with loss or complex medical issues, the thought of fighting a legal case could feel overwhelming. However, a successful medical negligence claim could help provide security for the future, provide vital equipment and facilities to make life more comfortable and help highlight failings in procedures and systems that could be fixed to prevent them happening again.
What is medical negligence?
When a physician, dentist, pharmacist, nurse or other health care professional’s treatment of a patient is improper, negligent or below reasonable standard expected of their profession, they could be open to allegations of clinical or medical negligence.
In some cases, an action might be brought by a patient wrongly diagnosed or who has undergone unnecessary treatment. In others, it could be a grieving family who believe their loved one’s care was inadequate and contributed to their early death. Every case is different.
Making a claim
The person making the medical negligence claim will have to prove:
That the healthcare professional had a duty of care to the claimant
That they breached their duty of care
Their actions caused an injury
And there were damages or losses as a result of what happened.
It’s up to the person making the claim to prove that negligence occurred. It really helps to have any documents or evidence gathered at the time of the incident, and witnesses too.
In certain cases Legal Aid is available for people pursuing a medical negligence claim. Some lawyers offer at No Win No Fee arrangement, and if the claim is successful their costs are paid by the defendant in the case.
Is it worth it?
Some feel challenging a ‘national treasure’ such as the NHS in court is wrong, but by highlighting failures they are actually helping to improve healthcare for everyone.
A claim could result in a payment which could make life easier now and help cover the costs of any future treatment or special needs. The first step is to talk to a lawyer, who can advise on whether a claim might succeed and guide you through all the stages.
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