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14 Medical Accidents

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1. Introduction

2. What is a medical accident?

3. What should I do if I have suffered a medical accident?

4. How do I find out more about what happened to me?

5. What if I want to complain about a professional's behaviour?

6. When can I claim compensation?

7. How do I claim compensation?

8. How do I decide whether to take legal action?

9. What if I can't afford to pay for a solicitor?

10. What do I have to prove to claim compensation?

To make a legal claim for compensation, you have to prove two things. These are that:

  • the care you received was below the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent healthcare professional practising in that area of medicine ('negligence'); and
  • you have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a direct result of the negligent act or acts ('causation').

You cannot claim compensation just because someone has done something wrong. You have to prove that this has caused you an injury. For example, a doctor may be found to be negligent if he or she didn't properly examine a sick child who was later diagnosed as suffering from meningitis. If the parents decide to take legal action because their child suffers long-term complications, their claim would succeed only if they could prove that an earlier diagnosis would have prevented the child's injuries. The fact that the doctor didn't examine the child properly is not enough on its own.

How will the solicitor investigate my claim?
The main evidence you need for a clinical negligence claim will come from independent medical experts. These are doctors or other healthcare experts who can give an expert opinion on your case. They will base their opinion on:

  • your medical records;
  • your statement about what has happened; and
  • any other documents supporting your case.

You may have to be examined by:

  • your expert or experts; and
  • experts working for the hospital or doctor you are claiming against.

If your solicitor can't find any medical experts who will support your claim, your claim will not succeed.

11. What can I claim compensation for?

12. What can I do if my treatment was private?

13. What if a relative has died as a result of a medical accident?

14. What if my injury was caused by faulty medical equipment?

15. What if I want to make sure that the same mistake is not repeated?

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

Logo of AVMAThis leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Action Against Medical Accidents.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: October 2017


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