There’s no shortage of public health problems that need to be addressed. Medical negligence is one of them. The number of clinical negligence lawsuits filed over the past couple of years has increased significantly. Contrary to popular belief, not only physicians and surgeons can be held responsible for not meeting the necessary standard of health care. Anyone can commit clinical negligence, including nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, and so on. It doesn’t have to involve physical pain. Even psychiatrists can be sued for failing to provide a good standard of practice and care. Medical negligence cases are so common that when medical errors happen, there’s a chance that they will die as a result.
In the UK, proving clinical negligence is subject to a very tough set of standards. A claim against a medical practitioner arising is very different from a personal injury claim arising out of, for instance, an accident at work. For any legal claim arising from negligence, it’s necessary to satisfy the two-stage test for breach of duty and causation. In this respect, the Bolam test can be used. It requires the doctor accused of medical negligence to show that others would have acted in the same way when delivering care. They’re judged by their peers. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to seek expert advice to check eligibility and bring a claim for compensation.
Can You Sue the NHS For Clinical Negligence?
If an NHS professional has let you down, you might be able to claim compensation. Clinical negligence can occur at any time. For example, it could happen while undertaking treatment for a specific illness. If you have reason to believe that your case was below the expected standard, don’t remain silent. Reach out to a solicitor to discuss your case. According to Medical Negligence Law in the UK, there are two panels of specialist medical negligence solicitors, namely:
- Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA)
- The Law Society
Attention needs to be paid to the fact that there’s a three-year time limit for clinical negligence claims. If you don’t make a claim for medical negligence, the matter won’t go to court. Litigation tends to be time- and resource-consuming, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most lawsuits settle out of court. If you want to present your case to the court, make sure you have strong evidence. You can claim compensation for ongoing treatment, pain and suffering, loss of earnings, psychological damage, and so forth.
Evidence Must Have a Sufficiently Reliable Scientific Basis to Be Admitted
Court decisions are based on truth based on evidence. Once it’s established that you’ve sustained an injury, your solicitor will arrange for you to be examined by a medico-legal expert. Not only do they provide concise reporting, but they also evaluate you thoroughly so that the court can make an impartial decision. At the appointment, the medico-legal expert will ask you what happened and what symptoms you’ve had. The report is issued in a couple of weeks. Experts used in clinical negligence cases tend to be medical practitioners with extensive training and expertise in their field. Expert evidence helps show that the health care provider failed to exercise reasonable care and skill at the time the medical services were provided.
You’ll need the court’s permission to get expert evidence. In some cases, the court might allow each party to have separate experts. Evidence is just one tool to be used in proving your case. More exactly, it’s dangerous to place too much faith in the findings of experts. The individual claiming expertise should have acquired it by study or experience. They should have an unrivalled knowledge of the medical field to render their opinion. Most importantly, the medico-legal expert should be impartial, and unbiased. Conflicts of interest arise when an expert has a connection to someone involved in the case. Expert evidence can be challenged, nonetheless. While it’s true that there are very few instances when expert evidence is ruled inadmissible, it can happen.
In The Absence of Expert Evidence, Its’ Difficult to Succeed in Proving Clinical Negligence
Regrettably, you can lose a clinical negligence case in the absence of expert evidence. To succeed on the claim, you have to prove there’s a causal connection between the breach of the standard of care and your injury. The burden of proof is on the person who brings the claim in the dispute. Therefore, you must put forth evidence demonstrating that the medical practitioner failed to meet certain obligations. Also, you must prove the compensatory value of the damages being sought. The defendant’s solicitor will point out the inconsistencies in your case (if there are any). Keep in mind that the case doesn’t hinge solely on the points of law.
At times, medical negligence is so obvious that expert evidence isn’t even necessary. Any action undertaken by a medical practitioner that violates the principle of non-maleficence gives rise to clinical negligence litigation. The doctor’s incompetence may be obvious, yet it’s hard to determine if that’s what lead to the injury. This is precisely why it’s a good idea to have an expert by your side the entire time. The role of expert evidence is to help the court on specialist matters. The job of the medico-legal expert isn’t to articulate your position but to lend a helping hand to the decision-maker. In other words, their primary duty is to the court.
There’s No Average Pay-Out for Clinical Negligence
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to put a figure on the average pay-out because every case is unique. The award varies based on the injury suffered, the costs of treating the complications, and the negligent party in the case. Claims for negligence that have resulted in life-threatening injuries have been rewarded with millions of pounds. Nevertheless, these cases represent the exception to the rule. Damages are classified as:
More often than not, financial liability starts and ends with compensatory damages. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer if the health care professional acted in a way that intentionally harmed the patient.
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