When you go to receive medical treatment, you’re placing your trust in a medical professional, or an entire group or system of them. In most cases, this trust is justified by the quality of treatment you receive. But since doctors, nurses and administrators are only human, it’s inevitable that they will make mistakes at some point.
If you’re on the receiving end of these mistakes, then you might well have grounds to make a claim for medical negligence. If your claim is successful, then you may be awarded damages proportionate to the harm you’ve suffered.
What do I need to prove?
For that to happen, however, your solicitor will need to demonstrate three things.
- The medical professional had a duty of care toward the claimant
- That duty of care was violated
- The claimant suffered harm as a result
Let’s examine each of these in turn.
The first is perhaps the easiest to prove. If you’ve gone into an NHS facility, or a private healthcare provider, then there should be a paper trail linking you to a particular medical professional.
The second is more difficult. The legal test here is that the quality of care must fall below the standard set by a competent member of the profession. This is where specialist medical negligence solicitors are so invaluable. They have built up contacts within the profession, and this allows them to draw upon expert witnesses to make your case.
Finally, you’ll need to prove that you’ve suffered harm. This isn’t quite as straightforward as it might sound, as harm doesn’t just mean physical injury (though that might be a component) it also might refer to the emotional pain and suffering you’ve incurred, or to the financial hardship you’ve been through as a result of your experience.
How do I prove this?
To give your case the best possible chance of success, it’s worth collecting as much paperwork as possible whenever you’ve going through a potentially serious medical procedure. That means documenting the time and content of any phone calls you make, and keeping hold of all documents related to the care you’re going to receive.
Bear in mind that there’s a time limit on medical negligence claims of three years from the time that you first learned of the problem. For children, this is slightly different – it’s instead three years from the eighteenth birthday.