What You Should Know About Making a Medical Negligence Claim
We all use doctors and hospitals throughout our lives, from minor illness or injury to truly life-altering events, like births and deaths. The vast majority of our interactions with medical professionals are exactly what we needed; even if we didn’t immediately think so (no one wants invasive tests, no one), and we go forth, singing praises and happy with a system that got it right. But sometimes, in a small handful of cases, things go wrong and you find yourself in the position of needing legal and financial help – that’s where medical negligence claims come in.
Medical negligence is when your doctor, nurse or other medical personnel does not provide the expected level of care owed to you which results in damage to you. They have to abide by what’s known as a ‘legal duty of care’, and not doing this leaves them open to compensation claims. It sounds quite simple, but the law around it is complex, which is why we’ve brought together some little-known things about medical claims to help you make more informed decisions.
There are strict time limits
There is a time limit of three years imposed on clinical negligence claims in the UK; this can vary from state to state in the US, but three years is about average. This limit is set out in legislation and can only change in certain circumstances, for example, if you had a procedure carried out five years ago and found out last week it was done incorrectly, you have three years from when you found out last week.
Things get more complex if you are dealing with cases that involve children or someone who passed away. Time restrictions are difficult to understand so don’t assume you can’t make a claim – ask a professional who can advise you.
You need a lot of evidence
Because medical mistakes can have such a large impact on your life, lots of different documents are needed to prove what happened and give an idea of what your life will be like in the future. All of these pieces of information add up to show how badly you were let down and how much compensation should be awarded.
It’s likely you’ll be told that you have to provide evidence, but it’s not always made clear that your medical records will have to be accessed and that you’ll have to be examined by an independent medical expert hired by the law firm. You’ll also need to give a personal statement about what happened and friends and family might have to as well if they were involved.
Claims can take years
Collecting all of the documents mentioned can take a long time in and of itself. Even if a settlement is made and the hospital admits they made a mistake, claims can still take over a year just to get access to the right files. Generally, a claim can get dragged out for a lot longer if the medical practice or hospital won’t admit they did something wrong. In this situation, things may get complicated, especially if there is a complex timeline, set of procedures or medical condition involved. As long as you know that pursuing a medical claim isn’t a quick process, you’ll be fine.
People might judge you
Making a claim against a doctor or a hospital can get some people riled up before they even know what’s happened to you and this reaction can be worse somewhere like the UK, where healthcare can be accessed for free at nearly every level. This is a very unpleasant reality to face, but this article is here to help inform you of what you should know, not what’s nicest to hear.
If you encounter this kind of negative reaction, just remember your choices for going down the path of making a claim (they’ll have had to be strong from the very beginning). You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, but if you chose to, it may give them a perspective they’ve not been exposed to before. And the next point might be useful here as well…
Medical professionals are protected
Every hospital and doctor have to have insurance to practice and this insurance also includes professional liability cover that protects doctors and their places of work from financial harm if someone makes a claim against them. So if someone says you’re taking money from operations or services by suing, you can say with certainty that the cost is actually covered elsewhere.
What else do you want to know about medical negligence claims?