A medical compensation claim is a lawsuit brought on behalf of a patient for negligent treatment by a healthcare provider. Medical compensation claims can be brought against both individual care professionals such as doctors, or against institutions such as a hospital or the NHS.
Anyone who has been injured either physically or psychologically as the direct result of action or inaction by a healthcare worker can bring a lawsuit against them. The lawsuit you bring against the healthcare worker is called medical litigation.
Most medical compensation claims arise from medical treatment which results in unexpectedly negative outcomes, such as birth defects in a previously healthy foetus.
In order for a medical compensation claim to be successful, the patient must prove that the service provider has acted negligently. This requires two separate issues to be addressed:
- Firstly that the healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient (which is nearly always the case)
- Secondly that the level of care given fell below a certain standard
Bringing a claim for compensation
If you have experienced sub-standard health care and are considering bringing a medical compensation claim against the healthcare provider(s) responsible, it is advisable to seek professional help as soon as practicably possible.
You must use a qualified medical solicitor that has expertise in the specialised areas of the law that clinical negligence cases use. Your medical lawsuit will have more of a chance of success if you use one of these solicitors. Never bring a medical lawsuit alone as these cases have little chance of success.
Although the patient normally has three years to bring a claim, starting from when the injury became apparent, the scale of monetary awards in medical compensation claims is related to the severity of the injuries attributable to the negligent actions. Therefore, the more time that passes between the medical treatment and the claim, the less clear it is that the injuries are related to the medical treatment in question.
Using a solicitor
It is essential that you have properly qualified legal representation when beginning medical litigation. Medical litigation cases need specialist solicitors that have training in these parts of the law, unlike other personal injury cases which can be handled by more general solicitors, such as:
- Falling in the street
- An accident at work
Your lawsuit could have a civil as well as criminal aspect, which makes it more important to ensure that the solicitor working on your behalf is properly trained.
The medical lawsuit you bring can also be complex and may take a long time to complete. A medical lawsuit can also be very expensive. You may, though, be able to get help with these costs via the legal aid scheme. Your medical solicitor is your partner in the lawsuit you are bringing, and they will be able to advise you about every aspect of your case and represent you at every stage.
However, most medical litigation cases never come to court. Often, the healthcare worker or their employer such as a Primary Care Trust will settle any clinical-negligence claims out of court. The type of medical litigation you are bringing will influence the duration and cost of the case you are fighting.
It is advisable to take expert advice about your case and its potential for success before beginning any medical litigation against a healthcare professional.
For more information on the types of cases compensation can be gained from, see our page on medical law.
Do you have a medical claim that you want to bring forward for compensation? Contact Law works with specialist medical lawyers, working in a variety of sub-areas of law such as medical negligence law. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.
- Last Updated on 19/11/2013