As North America has become an increasingly litigious society, it’s fair to say that this mindset and culture has also breached the shores of the UK.
Despite this, we’ve seen a relative decline in the number of medical negligence claims made in the UK, with the data from 2018/19 revealing that this figure has remained relatively steady despite rising NHS activity.
However, those who feel as though they’ve been wronged by a medical professional still have a viable avenue through which to pursue justice and compensation. So, here are some top tips when making a medical negligence claim.
What’s the Legal Definition of Medical Negligence?
In legal terms, a medical negligence claim (which may also be referred to as a clinical negligence claim) occurs when a patient takes their medical practitioner or healthcare facility to court in the pursuit of compensation.
This will typically follow perceived acts of negligence by said medical practitioner, which occurred either during surgery, treatment or ongoing medical care.
For this to happen, a claimant needs to demonstrate that the care provided fell below what would be considered to be a competent medical professional, while also showcasing the subsequent damage that has been done to your health.
You’ll also need to demonstrate that your medical conditions wouldn’t have developed even without intervention, as this could also prevent your claim from being successful in the courtroom.
The Time Limits and Restrictions
Aside from the sheer burden of proof that rests on the shoulders of claimants (as is the case with most areas of litigation in the UK), there are also other considerations when formulating a claim.
For example, a claim must be lodged with the court within three years of the patient becoming aware of the problem if it’s to have a chance of being successful.
Typically, this time period will commence from the moment that the negligence occurred, but in the case of long-term or progressive damage it may start later. However, it should be noted that such cases are a little more complex and typically far harder to prove.
Interestingly, there are some exemptions to this three-year rule, namely in instances where a patient is under the age of 18 or lacking in mental capacity.
Finding a Solicitor - What to Keep in Mind
Once you’ve decided that you have a case under the legal definition of medical negligence (and determined that you’re within a viable time-frame to make a claim), the next step is to seek out a qualified solicitor to work on your behalf.
Ideally, you’ll be able to partner with specialist medical negligence solicitors, who have detailed knowledge of this particular area of law and can assist you in every area of your legal claim.
What’s more, those that offer a free consultation can also play a pivotal role in determining whether or not you have a viable case in the first place, so you’ll need to find a solicitor that you can trust and communicate with openly.