What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence, also referred to as clinical negligence (and commonly known as medical malpractice in America), happens when a patient suffers an injury as the result of a doctor, or other professional, failing to provide a good standard of practice and care.

With all medical treatment, the patient’s well-being needs to be the health carers’ primary concern and any treatment must be provided to an appropriate standard.

If an injury occurs, a solicitor will need to determine whether it is the result of a doctor, or other healthcare practitioner, being in breach of their duty of care to the patient. At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we have a dedicated team of medical negligence solicitors to help you with your claim.

Get in touch with our professional and caring clinical negligence solicitors now to discuss your claim, which will usually be funded on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Most cases do not even reach court.

Has medical negligence happened?

A solicitor will instruct a medical expert to assess the patient’s claim and give their opinion on the treatment provided.

If the medical expert says that in their opinion the original doctor was in breach of their duty of care, your solicitor will then work with you to prove that the injuries suffered are a direct consequence of the treatment provided.

How to make a medical negligence claim

The procedure for investigating a clinical negligence claim is described in the Pre-Action Protocol for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes, an official procedure that medical negligence lawyers are expected to follow. You can read more about the protocol here.

The patient will need to provide the solicitor with as much information as possible about the treatment received, along with any evidence for financial losses.

With the patient’s written consent, the solicitor will then obtain copies of the medical records from the relevant healthcare provider.

Claims for medical negligence should be made promptly, so if you suspect your injury is a result of a healthcare provider failing to provide you with suitable treatment, then you should speak to a clinical negligence solicitor sooner rather than later.

You can read about the time limits of clinical negligence claims here.

What happens next?

Once the details of the claim have been sent to the healthcare provider, they have 14 days to acknowledge receipt. This should be followed within four months of receiving the letter about your claim by a full response, in which the healthcare provider must clearly accept full or partial responsibility or deny the claim.

When responsibility is admitted, the value of the settlement then needs to be agreed. We will ask for some of your compensation to be paid at that stage to you, so that you can receive this quickly. If the claim is denied, the response must clearly explain why this is the case.

If the claim is denied or a settlement cannot be agreed upon, court proceedings may be required, although medical negligence cases are rarely taken to a trial.

How much compensation will be awarded?

If it is proven that an injury was caused by medical negligence, the patient will be awarded compensation. The size of the compensation will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and money will be awarded for the following:

  • The injury: the money awarded for the injury will depend on its severity. The pain, suffering and recovery time will be taken into account. If the patient is unable to carry out tasks as a result of the injury, this will also be considered
  • Financial losses: financial losses and any expenses incurred as a result of the injury will be claimed. This will include any future expenses

In some cases, a formal apology for the negligent treatment will also be made.