Receiving negligent medical treatment is a serious matter. It can cause stress, pain and discomfort, and may have severe long-term implications on your health, work and lifestyle. Medical and clinical negligence are both terms that refer to poor treatment that you might have received from a health professional. Here we’ll talk you through some common questions and explain when you might be in a position to make a claim.
Table of contents:
- What is medical negligence?
- What is clinical negligence?
- Can I claim against the NHS?
- How do I know if have a claim for negligence?
- How do I make a claim for medical/clinical negligence?
- Are claims made on a no-win, no-fee basis?
- What happens after the funding has been arranged?
- How long does a claim take?
- Is there a time limit to making a claim?
- Is it possible to make a claim related to mental health?
- Let us help
- Your questions answered
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence is a term used to describe substandard care from a medical professional, particularly if this care has caused an existing health condition to get worse or resulted in an injury.
This might be because of an operation that has gone wrong, because of unprofessional or poor-quality treatment, or because of a misdiagnosis with extremely serious consequences. There are many other examples.
Medical negligence covers areas commonly related to the NHS or private medical treatment.
What is clinical negligence?
The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but it can be helpful to think of clinical negligence as covering more areas of healthcare than medical negligence.
Clinical negligence encompasses everything from dental practice and physiotherapy to psychiatry, chiropractic and alternative medicine.
Again, it relates to receiving treatment which has been negligent, neglectful or careless, and which has had serious negative consequences.
Can I claim against the NHS?
Yes, you can. The work done by the NHS changes millions of lives for the better, and treatment is typically carried out to an admirably high standard. However, in an organisation this large, cases of medical negligence do regrettably occur. If your quality of life has been severely impacted as the result of a mistake, you still have the right to compensation.
It’s important to remember that a claim against the NHS is intended to help you return to the situation you were in had the negligent treatment not occurred. It would be wrong to see it as a cash-cow for benefitting financially.
Regardless of who you’re claiming against – be it a private practice, the NHS, or even an individual health professional – the same principle of recompense applies. You have a legal right to receive the full level of compensation that you’re fairly due. We’re here to help you do that.
How do I know if have a claim for negligence?
Early on, this can be a tricky question to answer. Every case is individual and depends on factors such as the extent of the negligent treatment, the negative effects of the treatment, and your own medical history.
In the first instance, feel free to get in touch to discuss the specifics of your own case. We’ll always be happy to give you honest, obligation-free advice about what would be the best course of action.
The healthcare industry is an enormous one, incorporating any number of different conditions, diagnoses, and courses of treatment, so it’s not until hearing the particulars of a case that we can offer more clarity on your right to compensation.
Some claims are very clear-cut – such as an operation going drastically wrong due to a pre-existing condition – whereas others require more evidence. In certain cases, it’s not until medical records have been released that it becomes clear how much liability is involved.
A delayed or incorrect diagnosis, for example, does not necessarily make a claim. Many health conditions have symptoms that can be tricky to identify, even for professionals. However, if a misdiagnosis has resulted in rushed treatment with adverse side-effects, making the undiagnosed condition worse, or if a professional has overlooked clear evidence of a life-threatening disease such as cancer, then this can often lead to a claim.
We’ve dealt with many claims for medical and clinical negligence over the years, so we’re in a strong position to share our advice and experience.
How do I make a claim for medical/clinical negligence?
When we talk to you, we’ll put together a full account of the treatment you’ve received, as well as any relevant information from your medical past.
Any extra evidence you have in the form of official documents, notes and letters will also be useful.
If you’ve been expressly told by a doctor or healthcare professional that you’ve received negligent treatment, this is always very helpful – so do let us know if so. If not, however, don’t see it as a problem.
Once we’ve assessed the evidence, we’ll determine how strong a case you have. We’ll always be open and honest, and if we feel confident that we can help you receive compensation, we’ll move onto the next step: funding your case.
Are claims made on a no-win, no-fee basis?
Yes, by far the majority of our clients are awarded compensation on a no-win, no-fee basis, or occasionally through legal aid. We’re always happy to explain the process in more detail if there’s anything you’re unsure about.
The key thing to understand is that you’ll have no costs to pay if your case is unsuccessful.
What happens after the funding has been arranged?
The next step is usually that we’ll request access to your medical records, to further strengthen your case and to check no other mistakes have been made.
After weighing up these records, we’ll combine them with all other evidence that might prove helpful to your case. This might include a medical examination by an independent expert, and any relevant witness statements.
You can rest assured that we’ll keep you informed and included at every step of the process.
How long does a claim take?
This varies according to each particular case. If the other party admits liability for the negligent treatment – which sometimes happens early on – the whole process can be wrapped up in a few months. In more complicated cases, things can sometimes take longer.
We take all relevant factors into account when working on your claim for compensation, including the impact on your day-to-day life or professional prospects, and any related costs you might have incurred.
Once the other party has admitted liability, we can often arrange an interim compensation payment to be made, before a final settlement is reached. This can be vital in helping you fund your rehabilitation safely and securely.
Is there a time limit to making a claim?
We would always recommend that you contact us as early as possible, to allow us to begin work on your claim while information is still fresh. In certain cases, however, the effects of negligent treatment can take months, or even years, to become fully apparent.
The law states that in most cases, you need to begin a negligence claim within three years. This time period starts from the date at which you became aware of the negligence, or first suspected it, rather than when the treatment was provided.
There are two exceptions to the three-year limitation period. You can make a negligence claim on behalf of a child at any time before they turn 18. Similarly, if someone lacks the mental capacity to make a claim themselves, no time limit applies.
Is it possible to make a claim related to mental health?
Yes, it is. If you can prove that you’ve received negligent treatment from a mental health professional, you may have a case for a claim. This might relate to anything from being prescribed the wrong medication to being discharged too early from your treatment, causing you harm.
Again, we can advise you in gathering as much evidence as possible to back up your case.
On a separate note, in some cases it can also be possible to make a claim for medical or clinical negligence relating to the psychological damage from the effects of medical malpractice.
Let us help
Have you received negligent treatment? You’re in safe hands with Direct2Compensation. Our claims process is transparent and effective, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with our no-win, no-fee approach.
To find out more, or to start your claim today, call us on 01225 430285. If you prefer, we can call you back. After just a few minutes on the phone, we’ll have enough information to allow our solicitors to get your claim started.