What is Clinical Negligence?

When undergoing medical treatment, we are often at our most vulnerable, putting out trust in the care of healthcare professionals. In some rare cases things may not go to plan, causing patients to feel as though this trust has been betrayed. 

With our years of practical experience guiding successful medical negligence cases, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about clinical negligence. 

What is clinical negligence? 

Clinical negligence, also referred to as medical negligence, occurs when an individual is receiving treatment from a healthcare professional, whether this is privately or through the NHS, and suffers avoidable injuries during that treatment. 

Overall, medical procedures are usually completed without any complications, however, in rare cases, a mistake may be made by someone who is responsible for your care. This mistake may then lead to serious harm and injury. 

It is important to note that clinical negligence is not confined to hospital treatment and can also occur during dental procedures, GP care, beauty treatments and in care homes. 

What are some examples of clinical negligence? 

Clinical negligence can present itself in many different forms and every single case is unique.  This is why the service we offer to our clients is entirely bespoke depending on the circumstances of your claim.  However, there are some common examples of clinical negligence, which includes: 

  • Surgical mistakes, resulting in scarring, internal injuries, or infection 

  • The wrongful dispensing of prescriptions, or prescribing the incorrect medication 

  • Not receiving a patient’s informed consent for an operation 

  • A misdiagnosis, or late diagnosis 

  • Poor after-care, including a lack of follow-up appointments 

  • Failing to inform patients of any risks associated with treatments and procedures 

  • Sudden, unexpected death that could have been avoided 

If you have suffered as a result of any of these incidences, you may be entitled to claim medical negligence. 

How can you claim clinical negligence? 

Bringing a claim for clinical negligence can provide you with financial compensation for the avoidable consequences of your negligent care. You must start your legal claim within three years of the negligence occurring, or within three years of the date you realised that your injury might have been caused by the treatment.  

If your claim is going to be successful, then you must prove that: 

The healthcare professional or provider failed to adequately discharge their duty to you and provide you with an acceptable standard of care and; 
You have suffered avoidable harm as a result of their negligence. 

Regardless of the claim you’re looking to pursue, whether it is against a private or NHS practitioner, the above points remain the same. 

Who can you claim against? 

You can claim clinical negligence against most types of medical professionals, including: 

  • GP’s or doctors 

  • Hospital staff 

  • Dentists 

  • Cosmetic surgeons 

  • Care home staff 

Suing the NHS for negligence 

Many patients are reluctant to sue the NHS, partly due to concerns about whether it will be possible to succeed in a claim against such a vast organisation. We can help you to navigate the dedicated NHS complaints procedure, unearthing what happened and providing you with stronger evidence to help bring a clinical negligence case.  

As your claim progresses it is likely that we will in contact with NHS Resolution, which is an independent body dealing with all claims against the NHS. They aim to settle valid claims against the NHS within 12 months. However, it will often take longer, especially if the Trust responsible for your care denies the negligence.  

When faced with denial, our expert negligence solicitors will take every step necessary to prove your injuries were the result of clinical negligence, and that the NHS Trust was responsible for any avoidable physical or mental harm suffered.  

Clinical negligence fees 

In order to instruct a solicitor to bring a clinical negligence claim on your behalf the most common way of funding this work is on a “no win – no fee” agreement.  This means that if the claim is not successful then you will not pay anything for the work we have done for you.  If you are successful then we will deduct a percentage of your compensation to pay for the time we have spent preparing and progressing your claim. 

In some cases, you may be able to pay your solicitor through legal expenses insurance. Some insurance policies, including household and motor, occasionally include legal expenses insurance for these types of claim. Additionally, if you are a member of the trade, you may also have legal expenses insurance. 

What types of evidence are required to support clinical negligence claims? 

When lodging a clinical negligence case, it is essential that you have supporting evidence. While your clinical negligence lawyer can put together a case on an individual’s behalf, there are several pieces of evidence you can provide to help your case. For example: 

  • Photographs of any avoidable injuries suffered 

  • Written accounts of what happened and the impact it caused 

  • Receipts of any avoidable expenses incurred as a result of the negligent treatment 

  • Records of the treatment that led to the clinical negligence 

  • The written outcome of any hospital complaint you might have pursued before seeking legal advice. 

What are the expected clinical negligence pay-outs? 

The level of compensation rewarded is always calculated on an individual basis and is subject to various factors. This can include: 

  • The level of pain and suffering experienced by the individual 

  • How much an individual earns, and the amount of money lost due to the inability to work solely as a result of the negligent care 

  • Whether you have received care from a friend or family member that goes above and beyond what you would normally expect to receive from them 

With our significant experience in dealing with clinical negligence cases of all kinds, we’ll keep you informed throughout every stage of the process, including advising you on the amount of compensation you should expect to receive.   

Do you need the legal aid of clinical negligence solicitors? 

Bringing a clinical negligence claim can be a difficult and often lengthy process. At Smith Partnership, you can rely on the legal aid of a clinical negligence lawyer to see your claim through. 

We understand the importance and sensitivity of every individual case and will do everything in our power to ensure you are awarded the compensation you deserve. Simply get in touch with a member of the team today to find out more.  

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