- Learn About The Law
- Accidents and Injuries
- Medical Negligence
- What do I have to prove to claim compensation?
What do I have to prove to claim compensation?
To make a legal claim for compensation, you have to prove two things. These are that:
- the care you received was below the standard that you could reasonably expect from a competent healthcare professional practising in that area of medicine ('negligence'); and
- you have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a direct result of the negligent act or omission('causation').
You cannot claim compensation just because someone has done something wrong. You have to prove that this has caused you an injury. For example, a doctor may be found to be negligent if he or she didn't properly examine a sick child who was later diagnosed as suffering from meningitis. If the parents decide to take legal action because their child suffers long-term complications, their claim would succeed only if they could prove that an earlier diagnosis would have prevented the child's injuries. The fact that the doctor didn't examine the child properly is not enough on its own.
The main evidence you need for a clinical negligence claim will come from independent medical experts. These are doctors or other healthcare experts who can give an expert opinion on your case. They will base their opinion on:
- your medical records;
- your statement about what has happened; and
- any other documents supporting your case.
You may have to be examined by:
- your expert or experts; and
- experts working for the hospital or doctor you are claiming against.
If your solicitor can’t find a medical expert who will support your claim, it will fail.
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- Community Legal Advice
If you have been injured during treatment, you must first make sure you are getting the right treatment to try and correct the injury. You may need to get a second opinion or ask your doctor to refer you to another hospital or clinic.
If you have been injured physically or psychologically by a healthcare professional's negligence, you may be able to claim compensation. The injury needs to be serious enough to make it worthwhile paying the costs of making a claim.
If your treatment was private, you need to follow the same steps as you would for NHS care, except that you won't be able to use the NHS complaints procedure. However, private hospitals and private clinics must by law have their own complaints procedure.
If your injury was caused by faulty medical equipment, such as an artificial hip joint, you may be able to claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. This also applies to medical products, for example if you were injured or made ill from a blood product.
Medical professionals owe their patients a ‘duty of care’, which means that they are responsible for providing an acceptable level of care to the patient. Medical negligence is a professional negligence by act or omission on the part of a healthcare provider whereby they have breached their duty of care towards the patient and their actions have caused injury or death.
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