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Overview of Clinical Malpractice Compensation Claims

In order to make clinical malpractice compensation claims, an injury must have been sustained or the life of an individual seriously endangered by an incorrect medical diagnosis or treatment. In short, the injury must have been sustained at the hands of a negligent third party, such as a doctor, surgeon or other medial practitioner, or a medical administrative centre such as a hospital or clinic. Clinical malpractice is considered to be neglect of a medical professional in providing the duty of care naturally expected to a patient. In the case of private health care, a compensation claim could possibly be pursued as a breach of contract for paid services.

Compensation claims for medical negligence have been increasing and thousands of claims are now made each year against medical professionals, clinics and hospitals for a variety of reasons including:

  • Treatments that have failed
  • Operations that have gone wrong
  • Failure to diagnose a disease or condition
  • Illnesses that have been contracted in a hospital
  • Administrative mistakes

If you have suffered any injury as a result of medical negligence and wish to make clinical malpractice compensation claims, it is essential that you consult with a specialist solicitor in order to determine whether or not you are eligible to pursue a claim for compensation.

Responsibility for Clinical Malpractice

Clinical malpractice compensation claims may not involve just one medical practitioner — any number of suspected negligent parties can be deemed negligent in their duty of care. Because of the administrative process in a hospital, the responsibility for a clinical malpractice case rarely lies with one medical professional. In such cases each negligent party will have contributed to the injuries to some level and the “contributory negligence” of each party would be included in a clinical malpractice claim. Ultimately, each party found responsible for the injuries suffered would be liable to pay a percentage of the compensation settlement awarded.

However, not every injury or death is caused by clinical malpractice; treatments fail for reasons which no one can be named responsible. For example:

  • Patients may not have been treated in time
  • Operations may have complications which could not have been foreseen

In order for an injury to be acknowledged as having been caused by clinical malpractice, a medical professional or organisation must have failed in their legal duty of care to the patient and not have done all that could have been “reasonably” expected to make sure that treatment was successful.

Engaging a Solicitor

Because clinical malpractice compensation claims are known to be complicated, it is imperative that you consult with a specialist solicitor before you decide to pursue a compensation claim. Any claim of this magnitude needs to be thoroughly investigated and evaluated, with an expert in the medical field of the injury required to confirm that the actions – or inactions — of the medical professional in question had been negligent. A clinical malpractice solicitor will access medical records and contact the suspected negligent parties to give them the opportunity to explain their actions (or inactions).

Although clinical malpractice claims can sometimes be settled in talks between your solicitor and the negligent party’s insurance company, it is not uncommon for cases such as these to be brought to court. If they are taken to court, a judge will determine whether the injury was caused by clinical negligence by referring to evidence he or she is provided with and your solicitor will have to prove that your injuries were due to clinical malpractice “on the balance of probabilities”.

Clinical Malpractice and Third Party Capture

It is not unusual for the insurance company whose policyholder has been suspected of medical negligence to approach the victim directly with an early offer of settlement, even before legal counsel has been sought. This tactic is known as “third party capture” to avoid paying legal expenses, court costs and costs of a protracted trial.

Such an offer may seem tempting at the time, but it should be made known that once a payment is accepted – even if later it is found to be an insufficient amount to cover the victim’s medical needs and future care – it is considered as full and final compensation and it is impossible to return to the insurance company and ask for more. If you receive such an offer, it is vital that you refer it to a clinical malpractice solicitor as many cases have been under-settled when third party offers were accepted without the advice of a solicitor.

Damages for Clinical Malpractice Compensation Claims

Under normal circumstances, when awards for clinical malpractice compensation claims have been finalised, a settlement encompasses both general and special damages.

General Damages: compensation for the pain and suffering caused, along with any quantifiable emotional trauma and loss of amenity. These damages will also cover the victim’s future pain and the affect it may have on their quality of life.

Special Damages: compensation for financial loss. The main function of these damages is to ensure that the victim is no worse off financially than they were before the incident in which their injury was sustained. Any expenses already incurred, along with future costs of treatment, or any other costs relating to the injury, are compensated under special damages.

Compensation Claims for Clinical Malpractice

If you have been injured by a medical practitioner or believe that a medical professional has caused you either accidental or intentional harm, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries.

The most effective way to establish whether your injuries were caused by a medical professional’s mistake is to have clinical malpractice explained to you by a specialist clinical malpractice solicitor with regards to your case’s individual circumstances. As mentioned above, claiming compensation for clinical malpractice can be extremely complex and it is highly recommended that the services of an experienced solicitor are used.