What happens if I am the victim of an accident AND medical negligence?
For most people, they go through life without sustaining a life changing injury. However, for some they may experience a life changing injury because of an accident or clinical negligence and, for a small minority of people, they may be unfortunate enough to experience both.
Let’s look at an example; you are involved in a road traffic accident which is not your fault. You sustain a spinal injury. You are taken to hospital and whilst undergoing surgery the surgery goes wrong. You have a legal claim against the car driver’s insurers for the road traffic accident and you would have a potential clinical negligence claim against the Hospital trust as well. But who is responsible for your injuries? Surely the car insurers will not want to pay for the actions of a negligent surgeon and will argue that the medical negligence broke the ‘chain of causation’?
Up until recently the approach of the courts was that only medical treatment that was ‘grossly negligent’ could break the chain of causation. However, a recent court decision (Jenkinson v Hertfordshire County Council  EWHC 872 (KB) has cast doubt on that approach as the judge in that case found that the medical negligence did not need to be ‘gross negligence’ to break the chain of causation.
Claims involving both personal injury and medical negligence are thankfully rare but they are complex. It is important that your solicitor has experience dealing with multi-party litigation and the nuances that can arise in such claims. Failure to approach these claims properly including early investigation could mean that only part of the loss can be recoverable from the original defendant, leaving you undercompensated for your injuries.
The spinal injury team I’m part of at Bolt Burdon Kemp have experience acting for clients who have suffered two negligent events and we are always happy to have a no obligation discussion about new or existing claims.