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Medical Negligence

The vast majority of medical staff are dedicated to doing the best for patients but occasionally they do make mistakes and accidents do happen. In order to pursue these claims, it is important to have a solicitor who is experienced in the field and able to cut through all the medical jargon and get to the real issue of what went wrong. The medical organisations, unfortunately, still are very much of the view that when anything goes wrong it is simply an unfortunate accident and not due to any fault of anyone within their organization.

At Atha & Co we know they are often correct, but we know that there are many instances when medical experts, just like anybody else, do make a mistake and in those circumstances, you are entitled to compensation.

At Atha & Co we deal with these claims sensitively and professionally. We investigate them thoroughly and ensure that we get to the bottom of exactly what happened so that we can then advise whether anybody has been at fault and if so we can then ensure that you obtain full and maximum compensation for the effects which can often be devastating, life-changing and long-term.

We are not afraid to take on powerful insurers and professional bodies who have the resources to defend their organisations even in cases where they are clearly at fault.

We know that such claims can be extremely stressful, and we are able to provide the experience, the expertise and support to ensure that injured people get full and proper compensation however long it may take or however difficult the claim may be.

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WHAT IS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?

If a medical practitioner provides treatment or advice which results in an injury, then it may be possible for you or your loved ones to make a Medical Negligence Claim.

WAS MY MEDICAL TREATMENT NEGLIGENT?

All doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners and their support staff have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care when diagnosing, treating and advising patients. Medical negligence occurs if:
• There has been a breach of the duty of care (meaning the standard of care has fallen short of the duty owed and that you have received an unacceptable level of care)
• You have suffered pain, injury, loss or damage
• The pain, suffering, injury, loss or damage was caused by the lack of an appropriate standard of care
• In certain circumstances

SOME EXAMPLES OF MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

Medical Negligence can happen in situations where a medical practitioner is providing care, advice and treatment to a patient. Some examples of Medical Negligence include:
• Failure or delay in diagnosing an injury or illness, such as failing to request or carry our correct medical tests when required
• Failure to refer a patient for the second opinion or specialist treatment, e.g. not recognising the severity of an illness or injury or when to seek advise from more senior colleagues
• Giving incorrect treatment which does not resolve an injury, illness or even makes it worse
Clinical or medical negligence can lead to many serious injuries, issues with recovery, physical or psychological problems or tragically even death. In some medical negligence claims, inadequate systems or staff can cause or contribute to the negligence.

WHAT EVIDENCE IS NEEDED TO PROVE A MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM?

Medical Negligence Claims require thorough investigation. At some point during your claim your Solicitor will obtain the following evidence:
• A witness statement from you, stating in your own words what happened.
• Copies of your medical records from all the relevant hospitals and your GP records (your medical records will be reviewed by our Solicitors and discussed with you).
• An independent medical expert report or reports to tell your Solicitor whether they believe your medical treatment fell below the standard you are reasonably entitled to receive and if so in what way.
• Details of any financial losses or expenses you’ve incurred due to negligence. This includes past as well as future losses.
Your Solicitor will fully assess the extent and cause of the injury you have suffered as a result of any negligent treatment. They will then calculate the right amount of compensation for you using their expertise and relevant guidelines which may be available.

COMPENSATION PAYMENTS ARE SPILT INTO TWO PARTS: –

1) General damages: General damages is the compensation you receive for pain, suffering and the affect on your daily life. Its based on the extent of the injuries suffered and the time taken to recover, if you have indeed recovered at all. Our lawyers who have years of experience in this area and will be able to provide an estimate of the amount of general damages you are likely to recover once the appropriate evidence has been obtained.
2) Special damages: Special damages is the compensation you receive for any losses or ‘out of pocket expenses’ incurred as a result of the negligence, examples of which include:
• Prescription costs and medication
• Aids and equipment
• Private treatment costs/rehabilitation
• Travelling expenses
• Loss of earnings
It can also include future losses or expenses, such as:
• Future loss of earnings
• Future pension loss
• Future care costs
This is to ensure that you don’t suffer financial hardship as a result of negligence you’ve suffered.

TIME LIMITS FOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS

Medical negligence claims are subject to strict time limits. The time limited is known as the limitation period.
Calculating the limitation period can be difficult so it is important to take legal advice as soon as possible. There are some complex rules for assessing the “date of knowledge” of the negligence which we can advise upon.
The three years can pass by quickly. We therefore recommend consulting a solicitor immediately and ideally no later than 12 months after the incident of negligence.

EXCEPTIONS WHERE THE STANDARD 3 YEAR TIME LIMIT DOES NOT COMMENCE UNTIL LATER:

• If someone has passed away due to medical negligence, the limitation period expires three years from the date of death or the date of the Personal Representative’s knowledge, whichever is the later.
• The limitation period for any claim brought by a child (under the age of 18) does not begin to run until the date of their 18th birthday.
• Where the person bringing the claim lacks mental capacity no time limit exists for issuing court proceedings.
• The Court has a discretion to allow court proceedings to be issued outside of the limitation period, but only for exceptional cases with specific criteria set by the courts.

HOW LONG DOES A MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM TAKE?

Medical Negligence Claims take different times to settle depending on the complexity of the claim. Straight forward claims could conclude within a few months, but more complicated claims could take years to conclude.

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