How do you prove medical negligence?

Reviewed by
Peter Rigby, Director of Medical Neglience

In simple terms, medical negligence means that a medical professional acted below an acceptable standard of care, and caused avoidable harm through their actions or decisions.

As simple as that explanation may be, when it comes to proving medical negligence; this can be a more complicated beast. Often the doctor or medical organisation, such as the NHS, is not willing to admit the mistake, which means that you are left to gather evidence that proves that the negligence took place.

Without a lawyer by your side, this information-gathering process can be stressful and exhausting – particularly when you are already recovering from a medical mistake and the wider impacts of that mistake.

Here, we break-down how you can prove that medical negligence took place, how a solicitor can help you, and what evidence we will need to obtain, in order to successfully fight your case.

Breaching a duty of care and the wider impacts

In order to make a successful medical negligence claim, it is important to prove more likely than not that that you suffered an injury or illness, or that your condition worsened, because of a breach of duty of care. Medical professionals; whether that be a doctor, nurse, dentist, surgeon – or any other medical professional within the NHS or private sector, have a duty of care to act in accordance with acceptable standards and to do no harm.

When a medic breaches that duty of care and acts in a way that is harmful to their patient – harm that could have been avoided if the medic acted in a more appropriate way – there can be many wide-reaching consequences of that action. For example, if you visit your GP who fails or delays referring you to a specialist, and that delay or failure results in your condition becoming worse; you could be entitled to pursue a medical negligence claim.

The success of the claim and the value of the compensation settlement would depend on why the injury was caused, and what the wider impacts have on you. For example – if the delay in referral results in the worsening of your condition (increased pain, long-term complications or even an avoidable surgery) this would all be considered in the investigation and valuation of the claim.

The impact of a medical mistake doesn’t just rest with immediate worsening of the condition. Dependant on the severity of your suffering, there may be financial implications – if you are unable to work for an extended period of time, for example. There may be some emotional distresses and development of mental health complications. Your long-term health could deteriorate, and there may be further medical interventions in order to correct the mistake.

And of course, the distress is not just limited to yourself. When you suffer medical negligence, your friends and family are also affected. You may rely on those closest to you for support, financial help, transport and general day-to-day activities; and this can also be compensated.

Starting the medical negligence investigation

When you begin the journey towards justice, you will first need to obtain sufficient evidence that the negligence took place. This includes specialist medical opinion(s) and maybe photographs of injuries sustained, a timeline of your appointment history and a detailed statement from you about your experiences. There may be other records and accounts required, dependant on the type and complexity of the negligence you experienced, but all of these records are crucial to proving your case.

In some cases, family members may also be asked to provide their statements about what took place. This may be particularly important during times of impaired consciousness, if you suffered some drowsiness or confusion due to the side effects of any medication. Often when we are experiencing a medical trauma, we are unable to remember all of the details that took place, and that is where the help of family and friends comes into play.

The benefits of working with a medical expert

When you enlist the support of a medical negligence lawyer to gather this information on your behalf, you immediately make the process much easier for yourself. As medical negligence solicitors, we will source your medical records on your behalf. We will also gather evidence from independent medical experts who prepare reports on your treatment and the results of that treatment.

These experts weigh in on whether your treatment was below the usual and expected standard of care, and if that substandard care resulted in your illness or injury. Each of these components is necessary in proving a medical negligence case. Again, your legal team will arrange these expert assessments and will ensure you will not have to pay for these.

Our specialist team will assess your information and let you know if you are eligible to make a medical negligence claim. It can be difficult to understand your rights without the help of an expert, and often the doctor or medical body will not admit fault for the distress or injury caused.

We will investigate the evidence on your behalf, and help you to assess if you have a medical negligence case.

Meet the team

Georgia Briscoe

Georgia Briscoe
Director of Legal Strategy and Transformation

Georgia is one of our Directors of Medical Negligence and has an impressive wealth of knowledge. She has over 15 years of legal experience and is responsible for overseeing the whole medical negligence team.

Georgia prides herself on the development of her team and aims to ensure that everyone in the department shares the same passion, tenacity and drive to get the best possible result for the injured patient.

Georgia is in charge of the day to day operational running of our largest medical negligence department, working hard to ensure a self-sustainable future for the team. Georgia is heavily involved in developing Fletchers’ nationwide reputation as medical negligence experts, alongside ensuring that all of our cases are dealt with the utmost efficiency and professionalism.

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Bilal Qasim

Bilal Qasim
Team Leader/Senior Solicitor

Having joined Patient Claim Line in 2017, Bilal is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor with extensive experience in the medical negligence field. He has recently qualified as an internationally and nationally accredited mediator, recognised by the Civil Mediation Council, International Mediation Institute and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Bilal has been recognised for his excellent client work, having received the ‘Customer Award’ at our annual awards evening.

Having had continuous exposure to medical negligence claims throughout his career, Bilal has developed a large skillset, enabling him to bring matters to time-efficient, amicable solutions. Bilal completes a formal assessment of each case and strategically plans the progression of the case, ensuring all cases within his team run smoothly and that our customers receive the justice they deserve.

Bilal was also the recipient of the Customer Feedback Champion award in 2019.

 

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Jennifer Argent

Jennifer Argent
Medical Negligence Solicitor

Jennifer joined the team in 2018 with a wealth of experience of working in Medical Negligence in several firms across the North of England. As a Solicitor, Jennifer has an in-depth knowledge of the law and a recognition of the suffering that customers have already been through and the support that they may need through their claim. She works efficiently to achieve the best outcome for her customers. She has a wide range of experience within Medical Negligence and has particular expertise in delayed diagnoses of cancer, shoulder and eye injuries.

 

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Kate Goodman

Kate Goodman
Senior Litigation Executive

Admitted to the roll of Solicitors in 2016, Kate is a Senior Litigation Executive at Patient Claim Line. She handles cases through to settlement or issuing. Within the team she is responsible for corresponding with customers and experts to ensure cases are conducted in a proactive and effective manner. Kate provides support and guidance to the team to deliver an outstanding service to our customers.

 

 

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Sarah's Story

"Now we have peace of mind"

My husband, Nick, went back and forth to the doctors for a long time and tried everything the doctor recommended. But his illness got worse, to the point that he was in agony.

In the end we got so desperate that we asked for a referral. The doctor was reluctant, so we had to consult a private hospital. That’s when we found out there was a tumour. It took years from the onset of his illness to finally start cancer treatment.

He used to be a man with a lot to live for, but in the end he was in so much pain that he withdrew from the family. He became angry that nobody had helped him sooner, and the legal team were able to give him the validation that he was desperately seeking. The NHS confirmed if they had done more, Nick would still be alive today.