Hundreds of millions of patients receive medical treatment of varying intensities every year. Most of them receive quality treatment and care with utmost effectiveness and professionalism. However, things can go wrong occasionally when the medical practitioner deviates from the ‘recognised standards of care’ in a patient’s treatment. Such an act or omission falling short of a recognised standard to be expected from a reasonable health-provider is known as medical negligence.
Suffering because of medical negligence is distressful and traumatic and can seriously harm the physical as well as mental health of the patient. A patient who is the victim of medical negligence (or clinical negligence) is entitled to an explanation as to what went wrong. Such an entitlement also applies to individuals who are minors or dependents of a patient who passed away.
The victims of medical negligence may face significant financial hardships if their ability to get back to work has been affected or has become impossible due to the avoidable injury. In fact, their lives can be sadly altered forever. However, you must remember that the victims can avail compensation for the trauma of the incident and to cover the expenses of essentials like loss of earnings, necessary home adaptations, rehabilitation and care.
A medical negligence claim can relate to several types of treatment such as:
- Accident and emergency
- Brain injuries
- Cancer treatment
- Cosmetic surgery
- Eye treatment
- GP errors
- Mental health
- Nerve damage
- Pressure sores
Mentioned below are four things that you must do if you have experienced medical negligence:
Contact a Seasoned Malpractice Solicitor
Compensation claims concerning medical negligence are known to be complex. Therefore, contacting an experienced medical negligence expert solicitor should be your first step. You will be able to find many qualified professionals in this field, one example I found is the popular UK legal team Wright Hassall who specialise in medical negligence claims for all cases. Once you start working with an expert like these, your attorney will conduct a thorough review of your case details that include the relevant medical reports to the interview with you, your family members and friends. Experts recommend seeking guidance from a licensed solicitor where you suffered the alleged medical negligence.
Coordinate with Your Solicitor
You must gather and share all the details pertaining to the incident of medical negligence. The details should include the names, dates and time of appointments or treatments received. You need to coordinate with your solicitor in every way if you want them to help you. Apart from you, your lawyer will have to get help from a number of other people like independent medical professionals and expert barristers. They will all be a part of your claim’s review. Based on the information received, your lawyer will determine the strength of your medical negligence claim and whether it is actionable or not.
It will also help you figure out:
- the significance of your injury
- the expected recovery time from the sufferings where possible
- any medical support you will need both now and in the future
Seek out-of-court settlement
Since medical negligence claims are often complex and are a long process, many solicitors prioritise seeking an out-of-court settlement. In this case, your lawyer will issue a Letter of Claim and send it to the person you are claiming against to let them know that you have started legal proceedings. Within a period of four months, they will either admit the liability with an agreement to pay the appropriate compensation upon discussion between both the parties or deny the liability in its entirety which means you will have to take your claim to court.
Let the Court Settle Your Claim
When your defendants reject the liability for your avoidable injury occurred due to medical negligence, your matter has to go to court; however, it can be very costly for everyone involved. Your lawyer will get the case started at court as quickly as possible. However, it can take up to two or more years, depending on the complexity of the case. The attorney will present all the details and findings of your case to highlight the extent of the damages to your health, the expected recovery time from the injuries suffered, and medical support correctly to your wellbeing to ensure you are awarded the reasonable level of compensation.
Your claim is said to be legally ‘settled’ at this point. This means each party has agreed to the court order and all the costs must be paid. However, sometimes even when a case is being processed in court, the defendants will decide an out-of-court settlement.