Medical Negligence FAQs
What is Medical and Clinical Negligence?
Medical treatment does not come with a guarantee and some errors or complications are unavoidable risks of treatment and not necessarily negligent.
Clinical Negligence describes a medical accident where a patient has been harmed because of an avoidable complication and the patient has not received the proper standard of care. A mistake does not always mean negligence.
Clinical negligence can occur:-
- During surgery;
- Prescribing the wrong drug or dosage;
- Diagnosing incorrectly;
- Failing to provide the necessary treatment or treating inappropriately;
- Failing to obtain consent/agreement to the treatment recommended;
- Failing to warn of the of the risks involved in treatment.
Is it going to take a lot of my time?
There are points in a case where your input is needed if, for example, we need to take you through documents or ask you to get together documents such as wage slips, receipts/invoices and pension information. On average it shouldn’t take up more than an hour or two a month and sometimes is much less.
How good are you?
Our team includes former Morgan Jones Pett lawyers Sara Westwood and Simon Bransby. We have over 35 year’s specialist experience in medical negligence claims. Sara Westwood is a Law Society accredited clinical negligence specialist who is also an APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) specialist. We are consistently recommended in Legal 500 which is a client’s guide to the best law firms and solicitors.
Do I have a case?
In order to evaluate your case it is helpful to have as much information up front as possible so medical records, investigation reports and complaints correspondence will assist us in advising you.
Can I complain about my treatment/surgery?
Yes you can. If complaining about a hospital you should write to the Chief Executive or Complaints and Litigation Department. If complaining about a GP or dentist you should address your letter to the Practice Manager. When acknowledging your complaint they will inform you of their timescales for providing detailed response.
How long do I have to make a claim?
You must bring a claim within three years from either;
- When you had your treatment; or
- When you first realised you had an injury.
- It is always safe to assume the three year time limit runs from the date of the treatment that caused the injury so do not delay.
Does the time limit always apply?
In the case of a child the three year limit does not start until their 18th birthday so that time would not begin to run against them until they were 21; but they do not have to wait until then. Before they are 18 a parent or other person close to them can make a claim on their behalf as their ‘litigation friend’.
Also a person who is unable to manage their own affairs because they lack capacity can effectively stop time running during the period of their disability.
In exceptional cases the court can allow a claim after the three year limit.
It is important to begin work on the case as soon as possible before the end of the three year limitation period because;
- We will need time to investigate and prepare your case before court proceedings can commence; and
- The earlier your case is investigated the more likely it is that documents needed to prove your case will still be available and people will be able to recall what happened.
Can I obtain my medical records or the records of a relative?
Yes you can. You are entitled to your records, and any scans and x-rays, under the General Data Protection Regulation ('GDPR'). Simply contact the medical records department of the hospital, or practice manager at the GP or dental surgery, and you will be asked to complete and sign a form for the release of the records. There is no charge and the records should be provided within a month of the request.
If you wish to obtain the records of a relative who has died, your request is made under the Access to Records Act 1990 however, as with a request under GDPR, there is no charge and the records should be provided in a month.
Sample initial letter of complaint
We can advise on how you should go about writing an initial letter of complaint to the NHS, and are happy to share an example letter. Please click the link below to download a template medical negligence letter of complaint as a PDF file.
How do I claim compensation?
There is no automatic system for paying compensation for persons suffering physical or psychological injury from a medical accident where a patient has been harmed and where the accident could have been avoided. It does not mean the clinician was incompetent but they have made an avoidable mistake which they should not have done.
We will advise you on the merits of making a claim and if a claim is justified will advise you as to the step by step process involved.
How will we asses your case?
When you contact Hatch Brenner Solicitors we will assess whether we can help. You can help by putting together as much information as possible before you contact us. We will base our assessment on:-
- Your account of what happened;
- Your medical records if you have them. If you do not have them, our assessment may have to wait until we have obtained and reviewed the records;
- The medical and legal issues;
- How much a claim would be worth;
- Any extra information you have (such as complaint letters or other papers to support your case);
- Whether your claim is within the legal time limit;
- How your legal costs will be paid.
NHS complaint letter example template
Please contact one of the team to discuss your specific requirements:
Morgan Jones Pett have joined the Hatch Brenner Solicitors team.
‘Many thanks for the work that you have done and achieved.’