What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence, also known as ‘clinical negligence’, refers to a medical accident where a patient has been harmed because of an avoidable complication or 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 risks involved in treatment.
What is the average payout for medical negligence?
If you decide to pursue compensation for medical negligence, the payout varies. We have resolved cases for a few thousand pounds; others have been resolved for seven-figure sums plus ongoing payments for care.
Will a medical negligence case take up a lot of my time?
There are points in a case where your input is needed. For example, if we need to take you through documents or ask you to put 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 is often much less.
How good are you?
Our team includes former Morgan Jones Pett lawyers Sara Westwood and Simon Bransby. We have more than 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 upfront as possible. Medical records, investigation reports and complaints correspondence will assist us in advising you on the potential success of a medical negligence case.
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.
When 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 a detailed response.
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.
Are there time limits on clinical negligence claims?
You must bring a claim within three years from the date when:
- You had your treatment; or
- 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 run out until they were 21. However, 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. As with a request under GDPR, there is no charge and the records should be provided in a month.
How do I claim compensation for medical negligence?
There is no automatic system for paying compensation to persons suffering a physical or psychological injury following a medical accident where they have been harmed and 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 on the step-by-step process involved.
How will Hatch Brenner assess my case?
When you contact Hatch Brenner Solicitors, we will assess whether we can help. We recommend 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 supporting your case);
- Whether your claim is within the legal time limit;
- How your legal costs will be paid.
If you’d like to discuss your medical negligence claim with the team at Hatch Brenner, give us a call on 01603 660 811.
NHS complaint letter example template
Please contact one of the team to discuss your specific requirements:
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