Everyone makes mistakes, but not all errors have similar consequences. Not controlling your temper and saying hurtful words to a friend or partner does not have the same consequence as negligence by a medical professional. The latter results in life-changing health complications or death.
In 2020/21, 6,574 clinical claims received compensation for damages compared to 7,523 in 2019/20. Emergency medicine and orthopaedic surgery were the fields with the most claims. This article provides information on medical negligence claims and factors that affects your settlement.
We also cover the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice, damages you could claim, and what to look out for when hiring a solicitor. At Claims Bible, our medical negligence claims calculator will help you determine how much your case is worth.
Medical Negligence vs. Medical Malpractice
We start by differentiating between medical malpractice and medical negligence. Many people use the two words interchangeably, but they are different.
Medical negligence is the failure of a medical professional to exercise a standard of care while treating a patient. Medical negligence could result in harm or injury to the patient. Some examples of medical negligence include:
The failure to warn a patient of known risks
- Mistakes during surgery
- Childbirth injuries
- Hospital-acquired infection
- Delayed diagnosis
- Psychiatric suicide
- Administering the wrong medication, etc.
On the other hand, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional deviates from the professional standard of care and causes injury to a patient. Some examples of medical malpractice are unnecessary surgery, surgery on the wrong body part, failure to diagnose, and premature discharge.
A look at the two definitions shows some similarities between the two. However, the significant difference between them is knowledge. In medical negligence, the medical professional may not be aware of their actions. However, in a medical malpractice case, the medical professional knew about their mistakes and potential implications.
What Compensation Is Available to a Victim of Medical Negligence?
When you file a medical negligence claim, you may win some compensation. The goal of the settlement is to cover your losses. The payment is primarily financial. Typically, it will cover the cost of your medical fees and lost wages. It could also cover any emotional trauma the negligent action has caused you.
Hiring a Solicitor for Your Medical Negligence Case
Unlike many personal injury cases, a solicitor could make all the difference in your medical negligence case. First, we’ll run through the process of a medical negligence case and why a solicitor is vital.
One of the essential things your solicitor will do is prove that your case qualifies as medical negligence. In doing this, they’ll use what is popularly known as the 4Ds of medical negligence.
- The first “D” is duty. Your solicitor needs to prove there was a relationship between you and the medical professional. This is often the easiest part of the process. Usually, your medical records are enough to prove evidence of duty.
- The second “D” is dereliction. Also known as a deviation from the standard of care, your solicitor must prove that the medical professional’s actions were not consistent with what someone else with similar training and experience would do in such a situation. Again, proving this would require the help of experts in the same field as the medical professional.
- The third “D” is known as the direct cause. The medical professional’s actions must have directly contributed to your injuries. If the medical professional’s negligence was a remote cause of your injury, your case might not be valid.
- The fourth “D” represents damages. You must show the damages you incurred due to the negligence, and your solicitor will have to get detailed records to prove all this.
When hiring a solicitor, ensure you go for one who is both experienced and has a track record of success. Preferably, a specialist is a better option. Furthermore, you can help your solicitor by documenting the negligence results.
Without physical evidence that a medical professional was negligent, you won’t stand a chance. So keep records of everything from your medical records, correspondence, and notes.
Getting opinions from other medical professionals could also strengthen your case. Of course, your solicitor will often have to get additional evidence, but doing some of this would speed up the process.
How Long Does a Medical Negligence Case Last?
Medical negligence cases are complex and could take a long time to settle. In many cases, how long your case takes could be affected by how quickly the other party responds. On a general note, your solicitor may be able to tell you how long your case will last. However, you should remember that the more complex your case is, the longer it could take to get settled.
How Much Is Your Medical Negligence Claim Worth?
If you’re going to pursue a medical negligence claim, you may want to know its worth. This knowledge could inform whether you get ahead with your claim or not. Therefore, we discuss what your claim could be worth in this section and the importance of a medical negligence claims calculator.
Every medical negligence claim is different, and it is hard to tell how much a case is worth without having a complete picture of the case. Factors such as your:
- Medical costs
- Your recovery prognosis, and
- Lost or potentially lost wages could affect the value of your medical negligence claim.
The physical impact of your accident is not the only factor that is considered; the psychological effect also plays a role. Generally, you could get as much as millions of pounds in compensation.
However, the average payout is about £50,000. Arriving at an accurate estimate of your case’s worth would require using a medical negligence claims calculator like the one Claims Bible provides.
Below, we look at some average payouts and the reasons for the amount awarded.
- Mild psychological damage (the amount is determined by the timeframe of the disability and its impact on sleep: £1,000 – £4,500
- Severe psychological damage (the payment is defined by the telltale signs showing the effect in the victim’s life): £41,000 – £88,000
- Amputation of one leg (compensation depends on the part of the leg (below-knee or above-knee): £74,000 – £104,000
- Pain and Suffering (the settlement depends on the level of pain): £1,000 – £200,000
- Loss of earnings (it depends on the amount lost and could be higher than the sum stated here): £5,000 – £500,000
- Loss of expected earnings (the settlement is based on future earning potential, and the amount may be higher than the sum stated here): £10,000 – £400,000
Other Things to Know When Pursuing a Medical Negligence Case
In addition to all that we’ve listed above, some things would help your medical negligence claim. The first is the time limit for when you can file a claim. Generally, you have three years from when you discover medical negligence to file a claim. Unless under certain circumstances, you would not be able to file a claim once this time expires.
An exception to this time limit is if a minor is involved. For anyone under 18 at the time of the incident, a guardian or next friend can commence a claim for them until they are 18. However, after turning 18, they still have three years to file a claim before losing the right.
Another exception is if the victim lacks the mental capacity to properly understand the claim or the incident. In this case, the time limit will be suspended unless they regain their mental health, at which point the three-year period starts counting. The same also happens in the case of a death. Again, the time limit begins from the date of discovery.
Another thing to note is that your case may not get to trial. Most personal injury cases never do. Typically, after a claim is made, the defence, through their insurance carrier, will make a settlement offer. However, this is not guaranteed, and you may find some people who are unwilling to make an offer, leaving the court as your only option.
If you’ve been a victim of medical negligence, you may wonder how suing the organisation or individual could affect your treatment. However, you should not be worried. Filing a claim is your legal right, and you can file an additional claim if you are being victimised by this decision.
Know Your Case’s Worth With Our Medical Negligence Claims Calculator
Negligence by a medical professional could harm you and, in extreme cases, cost you your life. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, you should discover how much your claims could potentially be worth.
Every claim is unique so it’s impossible to say how much your claim is worth. You can find out more about typical payouts on our Personal Injuries page or discover more by reading our personal injury blog articles.
For a personal estimation on how much your claim is worth please complete our enquiry form and one of our specialist legal partners will contact you.