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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?

11. What can I claim compensation for?

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

If your treatment was private, you need to follow the same steps as you would for NHS care, except that you won't be able to use the NHS complaints procedure. However, private hospitals and private clinics must by law have their own complaints procedure. If you are unhappy with the way your complaint was dealt with or have concerns about the standard of care, you should contact:

  • the Healthcare Commission (in England); or
  • the Healthcare Inspectorate for Wales.

See 'Further help' for details.

If you are thinking about legal action, you may have claims against both your private doctor and the hospital or clinic where you were treated. Also, since you have a contract with your private doctor or private hospital, or both, you may be able to sue for breach of contract as well as negligence. The legal time limit for breach of contract is six years but for most clinical negligence cases you should assume that the three-year time limit will apply. See 'How long do I have to claim compensation?'. You will need to discuss this with a solicitor if you think it applies to you.

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regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.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: June 2019


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