Medical negligence cases are more common in the UK than you might think. In fact, cases against the NHS alone in 2016, which is the most recent year full statistics are available for, came to a staggering £1.7 billion in compensation. To give you an idea of how much medical negligence claims are on the rise, a decade ago the value of claims against the NHS was under £600 million, and in 2015 it was £1.4 billion – a worrying upward trend, then.
Medical negligence claims are a complex area of law, and so it can be hard to know how to go about making a claim, or indeed whether your situation could even be eligible for compensation at all.
Here are some of the most common questions about medical malpractice and medical negligence claims UK. These answers refer to the way things generally stand in UK law, however due to the complicated nature of medical malpractice, it may still be worth talking to expert medical negligence lawyers if you are still unsure about any of these points, or your case is an unusual one that may fall outside of these standard rules.
How Is the Value of a Claim Calculated?
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding how much compensation a person is eligible for when they have been a victim of malpractice, and so it is very hard to give an indication without the details of your case – this is something your medical negligence solicitors will be able to give you a ballpark estimate about based on other, similar cases. Often, due to there being many factors influencing the value, it’s best to initially talk to your solicitors. Sometimes, specialist legal practitioners such as The Medical Negligence Experts offer free over the phone advice to potential clients, which could be very useful when trying to determine the value of your claim, before having to invest in hiring a solicitor. Before making any phone calls, you can find more information out about medical negligence and how this firm may be able to help out by visiting the following link; www.the-medical-negligence-experts.co.uk/.
However, things that will be taken into account are any costs you have incurred or will incur as a result of the negligence (for instance further surgery to correct a surgical error), loss of real or potential earnings (which can come to a huge amount if you consider permanent conditions, especially in young people), and the impact on your quality of life. Naturally, sometimes compensation pay-outs are very large, though this is usually in the case of permanent disability, reduction of expected lifespan, or serious disfigurement – often cases where even a large sum of money doesn’t come close to compensating for what the patient has been through.
Do I Need to Make a Claim Within a Certain Time of the Incident?
There is a statute of limitations on medical negligence claims, which is normally three years from when the incident you are claiming was negligent actually happened (if it was something you became aware of immediately), or from when you first noticed it. As you might expect, the clause there about ‘when you first noticed it’ can make things a little vague, as some things do not present any symptoms until a long time after the negligence took place – for example there have been people who did not know that they had been damaged or had metal objects left inside them during surgery until x-rays or further interventions years later.
Additionally, in some serious cases of negligence or cases where the claimant can provide a good reason why they didn’t bring the claim in earlier, a judge may decide that the case can proceed despite the three year limit being up. This is rare but can happen. If you have a case that is over three years old, but you believe is important, it can still be worth speaking to the best medical negligence solicitors who will be able to tell you the likelihood of your case being able to move forward given the specifics of it.
Can I Make a Medical Negligence Claim for Compensation on Behalf of a Child?
A parent or other responsible adult can represent the interests of a child when it comes to a medical negligence claim, however the laws around claims for children are slightly different to those for adults. A claim can be made on behalf of someone under the age of 18 for medical negligence, no matter when in the person’s life the incident occurred, or the symptoms of ill effects first manifested themselves. However, when somebody turns 18, they then have a further three years where they can make a claim themselves – giving them until they are 21 even if the negligence in question happened when they were a baby.
This is one of the only times when the three year statute of limitations is not applied as standard. The reasoning behind this is firstly to allow people to be able to claim compensation once they are old enough if they didn’t have anybody to do this for them when they were still a minor, and secondly because where children are still growing, the effects of medical negligence may not present themselves until a later stage in their development. Equally, children may not be able to talk about symptoms they are experiencing in a way that would make it clear that negligence had taken place at a young age. This can be particularly true when it comes to children who have problems related to negligence that happened during their mother’s pregnancy or childbirth, such as cerebral palsy, which may not be diagnosed for years after their birth.
Can I Make a Claim for a Mentally Ill Adult?
Other than children, you may also be able to serve as a ‘litigation friend’ for a person over 18 who is recognised as being mentally ill or impaired under the Mental Health Act. The law here actually works very similarly to how it does for children, with there being a difference to the statute of limitations, too. While someone is still diagnosed as being suffering from a mental illness or disability, they may still be able to make a claim even if over three years have passed.
Can I Make a Claim Against a Private Hospital or Clinic?
While the statistics we have mentioned relate to the NHS, there are a lot of further medical negligence claims made against private practices, which are expected to uphold just as high standards. Additionally, private practices may be subject to claims that the NHS would not, for example when people have been mis-sold cosmetic surgery procedures. As long as you can prove that the practice in question had a duty of care to you (i.e. that you were a patient or customer), and that their negligence caused you a negative outcome, claiming for compensation from a private medical facility such as a private hospital, nursing home or cosmetic surgery practice is very similar to making a case against the NHS.
If you have further questions about medical negligence UK, then the best thing to do is arrange a consultation with a lawyer who is an expert in the field, and discuss your case. Questions around things like how long the process takes and exactly what will be involved vary dramatically depending on the specifics of a given situation, and so it is better to speak to someone who can answer you based on knowledge of your own case than to try and make a guess based on the information available online.