If you have suffered an injury because of clinical negligence, you may be wondering whether you are eligible to make a claim for compensation. Personal injury claims for clinical negligence can be complicated, involving complex evidence and strict time scales. However, in this article, we set out the key requirements, which may indicate that your clinical negligence claim has a chance of success.
You must have suffered an injury.
You can only make a claim for clinical negligence if you have suffered an injury as a result of the negligent actions of a medical professional. For example, when a medical professional makes a mistake, but this does not impact your health in any way, it is unlikely you would be able to bring a claim. The exception to this is where a medical professional carries out a course of treatment without proper consent from you.
Your health care professional was in breach of their duty of care towards you.
All healthcare providers have a duty of care towards their patients. In this context, a duty of care means that they must carry out their work to the standard of a competent professional. There are many scenarios which may give rise to a breach of duty of care, including when:
- Diagnosis is delayed, or the professional does not diagnose you
- There is a delay in taking appropriate action, care, or investigating symptoms
- A medical professional does not take account of any test results or investigations
- A medical profession takes action that does not take into account your medical history
- A surgeon or other professional does not take adequate care when operating
- There is a communication failure between the medical professionals treating you, or between clinicians and patients or their carers, which results in harmful action being taken
- You are discharged from hospital care prematurely
- The clinicians treating you fail to obtain the proper consent from you in relation to treatment
This list is not exhaustive but gives an indication as to the typical types of claims that are brought against medical professionals.
The health care professional’s breach of duty caused your injury.
Unfortunately, establishing that the medical professional breached their duty of care is not enough. You must also prove what is known as ‘causation’ – that the breach of duty actually caused your injury.
The time limits for bringing a clinical negligence claim are strict, so it is important to act quickly. Generally, you must bring your claim within three years of the date of your injury. There are exceptions to this rule, but only in very limited circumstances.
Our Clinical Negligence specialist Elizabeth Larner is available to help with any questions you might have on this topic.