Medical negligence claims and compensation solicitors

Doctor looking at x-ray

Our medical negligence solicitors offer free initial legal advice on medical negligence and medical accident claims caused by healthcare professionals.

Medical or clinical negligence relates to the acts or omissions of a healthcare professional acting in their professional capacity in the course of their relevant employment (or self-employment).

Patients who experience medical negligence are legally entitled to make a claim for compensation, which in many cases includes rehabilitation support, future care needs and loss of earnings. If the patient has passed away or is too unwell to make a claim themselves, their family may make a claim on their behalf.

The main purposes of a Medical Negligence Claim are:

  • To compensate the injured person and their loved ones for the loss, pain and suffering that they have endured as a result of the clinical negligence
  • To provide rehabilitation support to get them back, as far as is possible, to the position they were in before the medical negligence occurred

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors offer free initial legal advice on medical negligence and medical accident claims caused by healthcare professionals. A Medical Negligence Claim can be brought against any medical practitioner. This includes private doctors, hospitals or clinics (including cosmetic surgery clinics) as well as NHS hospitals or GPs.

Our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors are able to deal with most claims on a no win no fee basis.

We've put together a comprehensive guide to Medical Negligence Claims, explaining each part of the claims process. Click on the links below to view the relevant section within the Medical Negligence Claims guide.

What is a medical negligence claim?

If a medical practitioner provides treatment which results in an injury, then it may be possible for the patient, or their loved ones, to make a Medical Negligence Claim for compensation.

The main purposes of a Medical Negligence Claim are twofold:

  • To compensate the injured person and their loved ones for the loss, pain and suffering that they have endured as a result of the medical negligence.
  • To provide rehabilitation support to get them back, as far as is possible, to the position they were in before the medical negligence occurred.

There are differences between personal injury claims and medical negligence claims. The main difference is that your Solicitor will need to ask at least one medical expert (possibly more) to write a report, saying whether or not there has been a breach of duty.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors offer free initial legal advice on medical negligence and medical accident claims caused by healthcare professionals. A Medical Negligence Claim can be brought against any medical practitioner. This includes private doctors, hospitals or clinics (including cosmetic surgery clinics) as well as NHS hospitals or GPs.

Our free initial advice service will help you understand whether you have a valid Medical Negligence Claim for compensation. If you do, your Medical Negligence Solicitor can help you understand the Medical Negligence Claims process, how much compensation you could secure, and how long your claim is likely to take.

How long does a medical negligence claim take?

The length of time that a Medical Negligence Claim will take to settle depends on the complexity of the claim. A straight forward claim could complete within a few months, whereas a more complex claim could take years before it's completed.

Factors that can impact how long a Medical Negligence Claim takes include:

How serious the injuries are that have been sustained - How quickly medical records and other supporting documents can be obtained and reviewed - How soon medical assessments can be carried out - How many people are involved - Whether the opponent admits blame (liability) quickly - How much your claim is worth

If injuries are minor and the opponent admits liability early on, the claim is likely to settle quicker than a more complex claim where liability is disputed.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

There are strict time limits for medical negligence claims in the UK. All claims involving a personal injury, including medical negligence claims, are subject to a three year time limit. This time limit starts from the date of negligence or from the date you knew your injury was linked to the poor care.

Three years is not a long time, so if you have been subject to medical negligence, you should contact a Medical Negligence Solicitor as soon as possible.

How much is my medical negligence claim worth?

When calculating how much your Medical Negligence Claim is worth, your Medical Negligence Solicitor will first need to establish all of the facts, including:

  • What pain and suffering the injury has caused to you and your loved ones
  • How the injury will impact on your life in the future
  • Whether the injury has resulted in financial losses
  • What medical treatment you require, including any ongoing treatment, rehabilitation or care needs
  • Whether you require adaptations to your home or workplace because of your injury

Your Medical Negligence Compensation will fall into 2 distinct categories; General Damages and Special Damages. General Damages cover compensation for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Special Damages cover financial losses, such as loss of earnings, out of pocket expenses, medical costs, etc.

How do no win no fee medical negligence claims work?

At Co-op Legal Services, we can handle most Medical Negligence Claims on a no win no fee basis. What this means is that there's no financial risk to you if your claim is unsuccessful, because your legal fees will be covered.

If your Medical Negligence Claim is successful, your legal fees will be covered partly by the other side and partly by a success fee deduction. There are also no up-front fees for you to pay when you enter into a no win no fee arrangement with Co-op Legal Services.

How to tell if your medical treatment was negligent

All doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care when diagnosing and treating their patients. Medical neligence has occured if:

  • There has been a breach of medical duty (meaning conduct has fallen short of the duty of care owed and you have received unacceptable care)
  • You suffered pain, suffering, injury, loss or damage
  • The pain, suffering, injury, loss or damage was caused by the unacceptable care

How to make a successful medical negligence claim

Using a specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor will help you when you make a claim. Your Solicitor can make sure you have all the support you need to get the compensation you deserve. Your medical negligence claim will probably be defended by the NHS Trust or GP so having a legal expert on your side is vital.

You should be aware that there are time limits for making a medical negligence claim. You have 3 years from the date of your injury or from the date you became aware that your illness or injury was caused or connected to medical negligence.

Getting legal advice from a Medical Negligence Solicitor as early as possible is the best approach. It will allow your Solicitor to get as much evidence about your injuries and illness as possible and they could get you some rehabilitation and additional medical treatment if you need it.

After you instruct your Co-op Medical Negligence Solicitor to investigate your Medical Negligence Claim, they will discuss your claim with you in more detail. Your Solicitor will then gather the necessary information and evidence that is required in order to prove your claim.

What evidence is needed to prove a medical negligence claim?

Clinical and Medical Negligence Claims require thorough investigation to prove what happened. Your Medical Negligence Solicitor will seek to establish whether the treatment was negligent, what injury has been caused by the treatment in question and what financial losses were incurred as a result.

Your Medical Negligence Solicitor will obtain the following types of evidence:

  • A witness statement from you, stating in your own words what happened.
  • Copies of your medical records from all the relevant hospitals or clinical treatment centres, including your GP records (your medical records will be reviewed by our specialist team and discussed with you).
  • An independent medical expert report to tell your Solicitor whether they believe your medical treatment fell below the standard you are reasonably entitled to as a patient. It may also be necessary to obtain reports from more than one expert.
  • Financial evidence, such as receipts, payslips, bank statements and invoices, to demonstrate any financial losses or expenses you've incurred because of the negligence. This includes past losses as well as potential future losses.

Your Medical Negligence Solicitor will take the necessary steps to fully assess the nature, extent and cause of the injury you have suffered as a result of any negligent clinical or medical treatment. They will then use their expertise to calculate the right amount of compensation for you.

Your Medical Negligence Solicitor, along with our team of specialists, will work with you to ensure that your Medical Negligence Claim is presented in the strongest possible way. Pursuing your case through the Courts and ultimately at a Trial can be stressful, so your Solicitor will always work to achieve an early compensation settlement out of Court where possible.

How can I fund my medical negligence claim?

There are a number of ways to fund a medical negligence claim. One of the most popular ways of funding a claim is through a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) also known as a 'no win, no fee' agreement.

At Co-op Legal Services, most medical negligence claims can be dealt with on a no win no fee basis.

Alternatively, you may already have Legal Expenses Insurance through your home insurance (it comes as standard with Co-op home insurance policies) or as a membership benefit from a trade union, for example. This type of insurance is called BTE (before the event) insurance. Check details of any current policies or memberships to see whether Legal Expenses Insurance is included. Your legal fees can be claimed from this insurance if so.

Do I have to go to court?

The vast majority of medical negligence cases either settle before Court or are discontinued. Your Medical Negligence Solicitor would always prefer to settle the case before a Court hearing so that you don't have to give evidence on a witness stand.

But don't worry, you will still get your say even if your case doesn't go to a Court hearing because a witness statement will be taken from you which will put your recollection of events to the defendant.

Common types of medical negligence claim

Some of the most common types of medical negligence claims that our solicitors see include:

  • GP mistakes and negligent general practitioners
  • Negligent surgery and surgical mistakes, including poorly conducted or unnecessary surgery and never events
  • A&E negligence, such as missed fractures or accident and emergency doctors failing to correctly diagnose or refer a patient
  • Negligent hospital care
  • Negligent cosmetic surgery
  • Negligent orthopaedic care, such as misinterpretation of x-rays or poor surgical techniques
  • Spinal injury claims
  • Nursing claims
  • Incorrect prescription, dispensing and/or administration of drugs
  • Missed or late cancer diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Incorrect medication being given
  • Pressure sores
  • Hospital infections such as MRSA
  • Nursing home injuries or abuse
  • Cosmetic surgery mistakes
  • Cosmetic dentistry mistakes

What are the causes of medical negligence?

Medical Negligence can happen in any situation where a medical practitioner is providing care or treatment to a patient. Some of the most common instances of Medical Negligence include:

  • Failure or delay in diagnosing an injury or illness, such as not conducting the right medical tests at the right time
  • Failure to refer a patient for the appropriate specialist treatment, e.g. not recognising the severity of an illness or injury
  • Giving treatment which is unsuitable and does not resolve the injury / illness or makes it worse

Clinical or medical negligence can lead to serious injury, prolonged recovery periods, physical or mental impairment or even death. In many medical negligence claims, inadequate systems or lack of staff can be contributory factors.

Is it common practice to make a medical negligence claim?

There is no one database that considers all medical negligence claims but data is available relating to claims against the NHS. Each year NHS Resolution (the organisation which manages NHS negligence claims) publishes an annual report.

The report for 2018/19 contains a wealth of information, including the following key figures:

  • Of the 11,625 claims which were closed in 2018/19, the patient was successful 6,843
  • Less than 1% of the claims that ended went to Trial
  • £1,778 million was paid in compensation to injured patients
  • 10,678 new medical negligence claims were started

The new claims are comprised of the following types of claims:

  • 12% - Orthopaedic Surgery
  • 13% - Emergency Medicine
  • 10% - Obstetrics
  • 9% - General Surgery
  • 5% - Gynaecology
  • 5% - General Medicine
  • 4% - Radiology
  • 3% - Urology
  • 3% - Psychiatry
  • 2% - Gastroenterology
  • 34% - Other

As can be seen from the figures above, there were the equivalent of over 29 new clinical negligence cases per day just in the NHS during the 2018/19 financial year.

NHS complaints and internal investigations

If you have been injured as a result of negligent NHS treatment, your first decision is what action you want to take. You may want to have an informal discussion with the doctor or hospital where the incident happened. This may be enough for you to resolve the issues you have about your treatment, but equally you may not feel comfortable doing this.

You should in any case make a formal complaint about the incident. If the issue was with a GP, you should contact the practice manager at your GP surgery. If it happened in a hospital, you should follow the complaints procedure of that hospital. For help you can contact NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service, also known as PALS. There is usually someone on site in most hospitals.

Making a complaint can help you to come to terms with what's happened and help you to know that your concerns will be taken on board and action can be taken to put right what went wrong.

If a complaint has been made within 12 months of the alleged medical negligence, the defendant is obliged to investigate the complaint and provide a written response.

But if you've been injured by medical negligence, an apology and a change in practice may not be enough for you. You may have a claim for medical negligence compensation and this will be the decision that you need to make.

Making a complaint to the medical practitioner or organisation concerned as early as possible can also help you if you choose to make a medical negligence claim. This can give your Medical Negligence Solicitor important information on your case that can be used to secure early admissions of liability.

You will be able to request copies of all the data created by the investigation, which can be vital in supporting your claim. This might include internal and external correspondence, witness statements, meeting notes, clinician comments etc. This documentation can be extremely helpful when investigating your medical negligence claim.

Why would a defendant admit liability?

Medical professionals are bound by what's called the 'duty of candour' which means that when things go wrong, they must be open about this and apologise. In addition, admitting liability can actually save the defendant both time and money in the long run.

If the defendant admits liability, then we don't need to prove the elements of the claim which are admitted. This means that we do not have to incur legal costs for pursuing those investigations.

If the evidence on your case is strong, then there is no reason why the defendant shouldn't admit liability and avoid additional costs – particularly in NHS medical negligence cases. Co-op Legal Services will always seek to disclose this type of evidence as early as possible, so that negotiations can start sooner.

Patient, friendly and compassionate to the distress of my situation. I was provided with professional and honest advice and I would strongly recommend the Co-op legal team. (Z.T., Birmingham)

Customer testimonials

Why use Co-op's specialist medical negligence solicitors

As part of the Co-op Group our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.

We want to ensure that you are properly looked after so we focus on you and your recovery as well as your Medical Negligence Claim.

We appreciate that when you call us for help, you may not just be interested in claiming medical negligence compensation. Many of the people we have helped want to try and stop similar injuries happening to other people, or ensure that practices at hospitals or clinics are changed.

We will take a sympathetic and supportive approach to your claim and help you in your recovery by providing advice on how to get the best medical outcomes, how to access assistance from local authorities and how to claim benefits.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness as a result of negligent medical treatment it is essential to get expert legal advice on. When you contact Co-op Legal Services our Medical Negligence Solicitors can assess your situation and advise you on what to do next; free of charge.

With a no win no fee Medical Negligence Claim, if your claim is unsuccessful, there is no financial risk to you as all your legal fees will be covered (subject to entering into and complying with the terms of a No Win No Fee Agreement and taking out and complying with the terms of an After The Event insurance policy (when appropriate)).