Clinical negligence - Frequently asked questions

What kinds of case constitute clinical negligence?

Sometimes things go wrong in medical treatment.  There are many types of cases which cause significant injuries, but some common examples include:

  • Injuries sustained by mother or baby during childbirth;
  • Missed fractures;
  • Delayed diagnosis of cancer;
  • Surgical errors;
  • Poor cosmetic surgery;
  • The development of pressure sores in hospitals and nursing homes.

There are many other types of cases.

Should I make a complaint about my medical treatment?

The NHS has a complaints procedure which can be used.  It is possible to ask a Solicitor to investigate a claim at the same time as making a complaint.  A Solicitor often assists with both.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

This is usually 3 years from the date of the negligence (for example an operation) or from the date you realised that you had sustained an injury as a result of that negligence.  This period is extended for children and those who are mentally incapable.  It is important that legal advice is obtained quickly so that any limitation period can be properly assessed.  The Court can sometimes extend time limits for deserving cases.

How can I win a clinical negligence case?

We have to meet the legal test by showing, through independent expert medical evidence, that the treatment you received (or in some cases failed to receive) was so poor that no reasonable or responsible Doctor would have treated their patient in the same way.  We also need to know that your injury was avoidable and was sustained as a result of the negligent treatment.

Members of the medical profession always stick together don’t they?

This is a myth.  Expert, independent doctors give honest and helpful views about the standard of medical care involved in a particular case.  Most of the health profession wishes to see standards improve.

How long will it take to pursue a case?

To investigate a claim can take up to 12-18 months.  Your medical records need to be obtained and pored through.  Then medical expert evidence is requested.  If supportive expert evidence is received, then a formal Letter of Claim will be sent and then the ball will be in the Defendant’s court regarding an admission of liability.  It is important that your Solicitor puts a persuasive case to the Defendant with a view to reaching a negotiated settlement by the use of supportive expert evidence.

Will my case go to Court?

The vast majority of cases do not require a Court Trial.  If supportive expert evidence is obtained, then it is likely that any case will settle out of Court.

What if I need help with rehabilitation?

Your Solicitor should be able to help with this, especially in fault has been admitted.  The wheels should be set in motion by your Legal Adviser, helping you recover as much quality of life as possible, as soon as it can be done.  Clinical negligence claims can often be more than achieving monetary compensation.  Quality of life is central. 

Who pays for bringing a compensation claim?

If the case is successful, then your Solicitor will look to the Defendant to pay your fees.  Your Solicitor can advise you on funding the case.  If the case has good merits, then there will usually be an appropriate funding method for your case.

What can cause cerebral palsy and brain injury in children at or around the time of birth?

A delay in delivering the baby causing asphyxia and a lack of oxygen to the brain.  Also, failure to diagnose a serious medical condition such as meningitis or to treat low blood sugar can also cause this serious condition.

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We have legal experts near you

If you are interested in understanding how Taylor&Emmet can help you with your medical negligence claim then please contact:


James Drydale

James Drydale

Head of Clinical Negligence

Call 0114 218 4058

Email James

Office: Sheffield

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