How do I claim personal injury compensation for medical negligence?
The term “medical negligence” refers only to the process of a claimant seeking redress for putative harm done as a result of a medical procedure, or lack of it. In order to be successful in bringing a case for medical negligence, it must be proven that the attending medical professional was negligent in some way and that the patient suffered harm as a result.
Liability and causation
Two tests apply. The liability test demands proof that the medical professional acted in a way that other professionals would not have done, in other words that they deviated from normal practice. The causation test demands that it be shown that the harm would not otherwise have been inflicted.
Test cases Bolam and Bolitho
To claim personal injury compensation by medical negligence requires an examination against two test cases of Bolam and Bolitho. Liability of the medical practitioner is tested under these two rulings.
Loss of chance
In a ruling on the case of Gregg v. Scott in 2002, this tests the liability issue by evaluating, on a percentage basis, the patient’s probability of cure had the condition been diagnosed.
Civil Procedure Rules
These govern the impartiality conditions under which expert advice may be given, in other words, experts may not be “paid” to give biased advice for one side or the other. Lawyers are bound to apply the CPR.
To claim personal injury compensation, the statute of limitation of three years applies, as it does in any other personal injury claim.
England and Wales
The procedures for personal injury compensation described here apply only to the laws of England and Wales.
A sense of proportion
Nobody likes cases of medical negligence. They are harrowing for all parties concerned and it should be remembered that they are relatively rare, although when they hit the headlines, a false impression can be given. It is important to remember the noble and valuable work done day in day out, by dedicated medical professionals who are motivated by their desire to improve people’s lives.
Note: this article is a layman’s summary of the broad brush principles that apply and should not be taken as definitive legal advice, for which specialist, qualified opinion should be sought.
Date Published: March 9, 2013
Author: David Brown