Welcome to Medical Negligence Law.
You have a right to expect safe and effective treatment when you go to the doctor or visit a hospital. Whenever you are under the care of a doctor they are under a strict duty of care to treat you with the utmost professionalism and skill expected of someone qualified in medicine.
When something goes wrong because they haven’t done their job properly it is a serious breach of trust and could leave you with new or exacerbated health issues or injuries. It could also leave you injured or ill through no fault of your own. And in such cases, a medical negligence claim may be justified.
We are here to help. We are specialists in medical negligence law in the UK and can provide you with free legal advice about making a clinical negligence claim. We can also connect you with our panel of medical negligence solicitors.
We have many useful guides on our website that can answer different questions you may have regarding medical negligence in the UK. If, however, you have any more, or if you’d like to make a claim for medical negligence, please get in touch with our friendly advisors using any of the methods below:
- Call us on 0800 408 7827
- Write to us about your clinical negligence case on our contact us page
- Or chat with us now using our live chat, bottom right corner
Read Our Medical Negligence Guides
Below, we’ve included some of our guides on the medical negligence claims process.
- Medical negligence compensation
- Hospital-acquired infection compensation claims
- 100% No Win No Fee medical solicitors
- GP and doctor negligence compensation claims
- How to make a medical negligence claim
- NHS negligence compensation
- Care home claims for medical negligence
- Medical misdiagnosis compensation claims
- How to calculate hospital negligence payouts for claims
- Maximum payouts for hospital negligence claims in the UK
- Paralysis medical negligence: Your rights explained
- Medical negligence claims for a botched liposuction surgery
- Compensation for unnecessary medical treatment
- Compensation Claims for receiving the wrong treatment
- How to make a stroke misdiagnosis claim
- Prescription error compensation claims
- Can I sue a hospital for negligence
Medical negligence is any instance in which a doctor or any other kind of practitioner or healthcare worker provides their patient with treatment or care that falls below the standards of skill and diligence that are expected of them.
Also known in the law as medical malpractice, medical negligence can often lead to harm being done to the patients’ health. This could involve either directly inflicting harm on a patient or allowing a patient to come to harm through failing to provide the appropriate treatment for their injury or illness.
Some examples of what medical negligence is and how it can occur includes the following examples:
- Surgical mistakes – when errors are made while performing surgical procedures
- Misdiagnosis – when a doctor fails to spot or correctly diagnose the symptoms of an illness or injury
- Prescription errors – where a doctor or pharmacist provides an incorrect prescription, leading to overdoses or failures to treat illnesses or injuries. If you have been affected by this type of error, feel free to check out our separate guide which covers UK settlements for wrong prescription error claims.
- Negligent medical advice
- Poor or negligent treatment in a healthcare environment such as a care home or hospital. You can read more about claiming for negligence in specific healthcare places in guides we offer. This includes our care home claims guide and our hospital negligence solicitors guide.
Remember, if you have any questions about medical negligence law, just get in touch with our team. Or you can keep reading down this page to learn more about when a breach of clinical negligence law can be identified or if you’re seeking examples of medical negligence payouts in the UK.
Medical Law And Negligence
The medical law of negligence can be tricky to grasp. To successfully prove a medical negligence claim it’s necessary to establish that the defendant:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Breached that duty
- And, as a result of the breach, you suffered harm
The key area of dispute in these types of claims is proving that the healthcare professional breached their duty.
To help determine this, a legal test exists, called the Bolam Test, which asks the question: would a healthcare professional with the same qualifications in the same situation have acted differently?
The answer to this question is determined by a panel of healthcare professionals. If they decide that another course of action should have been followed, then it’s likely that a breach in the duty of care owed will be established.
A failure to establish these key points could see a medical negligence compensation claim fail.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can. This could come in the form of letters of emails from your doctor, hospital or pharmacist detailing the errors made. Witness evidence could also prove useful.
For further guidance on proving negligence under medical law, please get in touch with us on the number at the top of this page.
Medical Negligence Statistics
The Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts recorded costs of £8.3 billion for cases of harm caused by medical negligence in 2019/20.
15,550 claims were recorded as being resolved in 2019/20, with a majority of 71.5% being resolved before they reached court. The most valuable types of negligence claims lodged were those involving maternity care, which represents 50% of the value of all medical negligence claims.
How Long Does A Medical Negligence Claim Take?
There isn’t an average amount of time that a medical negligence claim takes to resolve. A number of factors can impact how a claim progresses—namely the severity of the injuries and the defendant’s position on liability.
If the defendant is quick to admit that they were at fault and accept that their negligence was the cause of the injury or illness, a claim could be resolved within 6 to 9 months.
A key consideration here, however, is the severity of the injuries. If they haven’t properly healed, or if further treatment is needed down the line, it may be the case that a medical negligence solicitor opts to wait to see how those injuries heal.
This is important; a claim can only be made once, so settling it too soon may see you miss out on crucial compensation.
If the defendant denies liability, it could see the claim take longer to resolve. In such cases, the defendant may have a defence to the allegations made, or further evidence may be required to encourage them to change their position.
As certain statistics indicate, a valid medical negligence claim brought forward is likely to be resolved before it becomes necessary to take the matter to court. It may help to learn that according to the NHS Resolution annual report and accounts for 2020/21, 74.7% of all NHS clinical negligence claims were resolved without the need to issue court proceedings or go to trial. That is an improvement on the 2019/20 period, when 71.5% of NHS claims were resolved without court proceedings or a trial. Some of these claims may have been abandoned due to lack of merit, but others would have been settled.
If you are specifically seeking examples of NHS compensation payouts, then you are welcome to check out our separate guide related to this topic, or you can contact our team. If you speak to our advisors, they can talk to you about different subject such as examples of medical negligence payouts in the UK. If you have a strong case for this type of claim, then they could potentially offer a compensation estimate that closely reflects the details of your case.
Time Limits On Medical Negligence Cases In The UK
Due to UK law for medical negligence cases (and other kinds of personal injury claims), you generally have 3 years from the date of the incident to start the process. Alternatively, you have 3 years from the date it was confirmed that injuries or an illness have been inflicted, aggravated or unnecessarily prolonged due to negligence. This time limit is applied by the Limitation Act 1980.
However, there can be circumstances where this time limit can be extended. In some medical negligence cases in the UK, the time limit can even be suspended.
Other Possible Extensions
For cases regarding injury caused by negligence (including injuries caused by medical negligence), in the UK, certain groups of people are not able to pursue their own claim. This includes children, and those with a reduced mental capacity.
For the former, they can only make a claim themselves once they turn 18. Then, they would have 3 years to begin their claim just like everyone else. Before then, whilst the time limit is suspended, the claim could be made by an appointed litigation friend.
Similarly, the time limit is suspended for those who lack the mental capacity to start their own claim. In the meantime, an appointed litigation friend can claim on their behalf. However, if the person recovers their mental capacity, the time limit begins from the date of recovery.
If you’d like to know more about time limits involved with medical negligence claims or just clinical negligence law in general, get in touch with our advisors today.
How To Prove Medical Negligence
Medical negligence law isn’t always straightforward, and proving medical negligence can be tricky. Just like in personal injury claims, it’s necessary to establish that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- That they breached that duty of care
- And as a result of that breach, you suffered harm.
If you’re undergoing treatment at your local GP, hospital, walk-in centre, dentist or optician, or receiving medication from a pharmacy or other service, those treating you will owe you a duty of care.
This duty is to provide care in accordance with the relevant standard, that is the standard expected of an “ordinarily competent practitioner” performing that specific task or job.
Should this standard not be met, or if there’s a failure to discharge those duties, the medical practitioner may be deemed negligent.
However, it isn’t straightforward establishing that a medical professional breached their duty. Legal tests, such as the Bolam Test, need to be employed to determine whether or not other practitioners placed in the same situation would have acted differently. This is where having a medical negligence solicitor on your side can really help.
In order to establish negligence, it’s also important to prove that the injury or illness suffered was caused by the practitioner’s breach of duty. This is often a matter of evidence, though again, without expert legal support, it can be hard to prove.
That’s where we can help you. If you’re at all fazed by the prospect of proving that a medical professional breached their duty of care, get in touch.
We can offer free legal advice you can trust. And if you wanted to proceed with a claim, we can connect you with our panel of specialist clinical negligence lawyers who are well-versed and experienced in pursuing medical negligence claims.
Examples Of Medical Negligence Compensation Payouts In The UK
Money alone isn’t enough to truly undo the harm and wrongdoing that stems from medical negligence. But the compensation you receive could help you cope with the situation financially as well as provide you with a sense of justice being done.
Those who are eligible to seek a compensation payout for medical negligence in the UK will likely want to know more about the different elements which can feature in a payment following a successful claim. Calculating your compensation is done in two parts.
Under medical negligence law in the UK, general damages is the compensation that is awarded for the physical and psychological harm that is done by medical negligence. The more severe the harm, the more compensation you could be entitled to receive.
Things like the length of your recovery, the amount of physical pain and anguish you experienced and the extent to which your health has permanently been affected all factor towards a larger payout.
Medical Negligence Payouts In The UK
You may be wondering what the average payout is for medical negligence in the UK. However, various factors are considered.
For claims made in England and Wales, solicitors use various resources to help them value claims. The table below shows compensation brackets for different injuries that could stem from medical negligence. These figures are taken from the 2022 edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (alternatively known as the 16th edition of the JCG).
While these aren’t specifically examples of medical negligence payouts in the UK, the brackets are based on payments awarded in past claims when the different injuries included in the table were claimed for. The injuries covered by the table are some of the injuries that claimants may claim for when seeking a payout for medical negligence.
If you can’t see your injury or illness listed, or if you’d like a more specific valuation tailored towards your case, simply get in touch with us by using the contact details found on this page.
|Injury Description||Compensation Bracket|
|Severe Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). The prognosis and ability to work will be poor.||£52,500 to £84,010|
|Other Pain Disorders – Severe. In such cases, symptoms will be ongoing despite treatment and they’ll have a significant impact on ability to work.||£42,130 to £62,990|
|Bladder damage – (d). Almost a complete recovery but fairly long-term interference with natural function.||£23,410 to £31,310|
|Damage to bowels – (e). Penetrating injuries that cause some permanent damage. An eventual return to natural function and control should occur.||£12,590 to £24,480|
|Disfiguring scars to body. This bracket can apply to a number of noticeable lacerations or alternatively a single disfiguring scar on various parts of the body such as the chest, leg or back.||£7,830 to £22,730|
|Disfiguring scars to body. This bracket applies to cases where an exploratory laparotomy took place but no significant internal injuries were discovered.||In the region of £8,640|
|Disfiguring scars to body. This bracket applies to cases where there is either one noticeable scar or several superficial scars.||£2,370 to £7,830|
|Female reproductive system - (f). A delay in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy which may cause a range of health issues including pain, bleeding, anxiety and adjustment disorder. A blood transfusion may be required but fertility is not affected.||£3,390 to £20,430|
|Damage to the digestive system (a) (iii). Can apply to penetrating injuries such as stab wounds.||£6,610 to £12,590|
|Female Reproductive System – (g). Failed sterilisation that has led to an unwanted pregnancy (no serious psychological impact or depression, however).||In the region of £10,200|
This is the compensation that can be awarded to cover any financial losses that result from being affected by medical negligence.
This can include things like:
- Loss of earnings, both past and in the future
- Medication costs, including over-the-counter medicines, like paracetamol
- Travel costs, such as to and from doctor’s appointments
- Care costs. If family or friends had to look after you while you recovered, you can claim money back for their time and input
- Home adaptation costs. If you had to adapt your home in some way in order to live comfortably following the incident of negligence, this can also be factored in.
In order to claim back these losses, you will have to provide evidence of the costs incurred, such as receipts (even bus tickets), invoices and bank statements.
No Win No Fee Medical Negligence Claims
One of the cornerstones of our service is the ability to pursue your medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This is a term you may have heard before, but what does it mean?
- No Win No Fee essentially means that if you don’t win your claim, you don’t pay any of your solicitor’s fees.
- Under such an agreement, you won’t be asked to pay any fees upfront, or any while the case proceeds.
- Only if the claim succeeds do you pay your clinical negligence solicitor a fee. This works out as a small percentage of your compensation award, which is used to cover your lawyer’s costs. This percentage is capped by law and will be stated clearly within your agreement.
So payment of your lawyer’s fee is very much conditional upon them winning the case. And that’s why another name for a No Win No Fee agreement is a Conditional Fee Agreement.
To learn more about this or anything else to do with medical negligence, get in touch with our advisers.
What Evidence Can Help Me Prove A Claim Under Medical Negligence Law?
Medical negligence law in the UK can be complex to understand. However, like other kinds of negligence claims, the success or failure of a case depends on the available evidence. If you’re looking to claim for clinical negligence in the UK, it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can.
A good starting point is letters or emails from the healthcare organisation that treated you. This may be a GP surgery or it may be a hospital trust.
Sometimes this letter confirms that an error has been made, and this can help give your medical negligence solicitor the information they need to work out if there’s a case to be pursued.
Other evidence can include:
- Prescriptions or medication, especially if you were given the wrong ones and they made you ill.
- Photographs of any scarring, which may be relevant in claims involving unnecessary surgery
- Your medical records – you do not need to worry about obtaining these, however, as your solicitor requests them as part of a claim
If you’re able to present this evidence to a solicitor, they not only will have a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, but they may be more likely to represent you under a No Win No Fee agreement.
If you’re looking for help and advice on what evidence is best for your case when looking to act against medical negligence, please get in touch. The advice we can provide is free and there is no obligation on your part to take matters beyond that. We can also deliver advice and potentially other support for those seeking a UK lawyer for a medical negligence claim they can make.
How hard is it to prove medical negligence?
Unlike other areas of law, like personal injury, proving medical negligence can be difficult. Although you need to satisfy the same criteria for establishing negligence (duty of care, breach of duty and harm), it’s much harder to prove that a healthcare professional breached their duty of care.
There may be some cases where a doctor or nurse has acted in a certain way that may go against practices, but they may not be deemed negligent.
It all centres on whether another healthcare professional, who’s similarly qualified and placed in the same circumstances, would have done something different.
There is a legal test that applies here called the Bolam Test. This refers to the process of assessing whether your treating healthcare professional did something that other doctors wouldn’t have.
If you can meet the Bolam Test, you can generally establish breach of duty and that can go a long way to proving medical negligence took place.
Working with an experienced solicitor, such as those on our panel, could make the process of proving medical negligence much easier. If you’d like to learn more or would like to make a claim then please get in touch with us on the number at the top of this page.
Medical Negligence Law FAQs
Below, you can find answers to some frequently asked questions about medical negligence law in the UK.
What qualifies as medical negligence?
Medical negligence is when a doctor or other healthcare provider harms their patient by providing care that is beneath the standards of professionalism, skill and diligence expected of them.
What is the average payout for medical negligence?
Examples of payouts for medical negligence in the UK can vary a lot depending on various factors. These include the degree of harm you can prove you have suffered as a direct result of medical negligence. If you would like to learn more about compensation amounts when you have a valid medical negligence claim against a health organisation, our compensation payouts guide for hospitals can provide more insight.
Can you sue for medical negligence?
If you believe that the treatment that you received was negligent, then you should contact us to find out if you could be entitled to make a claim through our panel of medical negligence solicitors.
What are the odds of winning a medical negligence claim?
If a solicitor agrees to take on your case as a No Win No Fee medical negligence claim then that is a good indication that your claim has at least an even chance of success, otherwise, they would be unlikely to take on the risk.
Remember, if you have any questions about clinical negligence law or other forms of medical negligence law in the UK, then please get in touch with us today. We can advise on a wide variety of potential medical negligence claims. If you have suffered from medical negligence and have a strong case to sue the hospital or healthcare provider responsible, our advisors could support your claim by connecting you with an experienced No Win No Fee solicitor. You can contact our team online or on the phone using the contact details included on this page.