How To Prove Medical Negligence In A Compensation Claim

By Cat Grayson. Last Updated 13th July 2023. In this guide, we will be exploring how to make a claim for medical negligence. We will discuss the duty of care owed to you by medical professionals and the specific criteria that must be met to be eligible to make a medical negligence claim.

We’ll also discuss what medical negligence is and the different kinds of harm that you could claim compensation for. Following this, we will detail how legal professionals value certain heads of claim and what could be included in your compensation.

Finally, we discuss the benefits of working with a No Win No Fee solicitor. Our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors have years of experience in medical negligence claims and can bring a number of benefits. We’ll detail how a solicitor from our panel could help you with your medical negligence compensation claim later on in the guide.

To learn more about claiming, read on. Or, to get started, contact one of our friendly advisors today:

Proving medical negligence in a compensation claim guide

Proving medical negligence in a compensation claim guide

Select A Section

  1. How To Make A Medical Negligence Claim
  2. Calculating Compensation For Clinical Negligence Cases
  3. Types Of Damages Awarded For Medical Negligence
  4. Proving You Were Owed A Duty Of Care
  5. How To Show This Breach Caused The Specific Injuries
  6. Proving That The Negligence Caused Your Injury
  7. Applying The But For Test
  8. How The Egg Shell Rule Applies To Medical Negligence Claims
  9. What Evidence Can Help In Proving Medical Negligence?
  10. Proving Medical Negligence In No Win No Fee Claims
  11. More Information

How To Make A Medical Negligence Claim

You may be wondering how to claim for medical negligence if you have suffered harm. In order for medical negligence claims in the UK to be successful, the following must apply:

  1. A medical professional owed you a duty of care.
  2. This medical practitioner breached their duty of care.
  3. As a result, you suffered unnecessary harm.

Regardless of whether they work in the public or private healthcare sector, all medical professionals owe you a duty of care. This includes doctors, nurses, surgeons etc. As part of this duty of care, they must ensure that you receive the correct standard of care. If the care you received fell below the standard expected, this could be considered as a breach of duty of care.

Some examples of when you could make a medical negligence claim include:

  • Medication errors – Your GP prescribes you medication that contains something you are allergic to. They were aware of this allergy, and it was stated on your medical records. As a result, you suffer an allergic reaction.
  • Misdiagnosis – You attend A&E with clear symptoms of a broken ankle. However, you are diagnosed with a sprained ankle, and an x-ray isn’t ordered. As a result, your fracture becomes worse. This potential issue can apply to many other conditions and injuries, such as a collapsed lung.

Later in this guide, we will provide some examples of the evidence you could collect to help support your medical negligence claim.

Contact our advisors today if you have any questions about how to make a medical negligence claim.

Calculating Compensation For Clinical Negligence Cases

Medical negligence claims can cover a wide range of incidents. It’s possible to suffer injury through misdiagnosis, mistakes with medication, negligent treatment and surgical procedure mistakes, amongst other things. Perhaps a medical mistake has led to consequences in other areas of your treatment, creating new additional health problems. What can you do about it?

A medical negligence lawyer can help you in claiming compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered and any financial losses your injuries have caused you. Firstly, they can arrange for a medical assessment from an independent doctor to determine the extent of the injuries you have. This information will be put in a medical report, which your lawyer can use as the basis for calculating your first head of potential compensation called general damages.

General damages

The Judicial College Guidelines are a set of guidelines based on previous compensation awards for different injuries of different severities. Based on previous cases, the JCG tries to apply a general award for the pain and suffering that your injuries have caused you. Not guarantees of compensation awards, these figures simply try to keep amounts fair to all in areas where it’s difficult to accurately gauge impact.

We illustrate some examples below:

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Injury Description How much?
Kidney Serious and permanent damage to or loss of both kidneys. £169,400 to £210,400
Kidney One kidney has been lost, the other has suffered no damage. £30,770 to £44,880
Bowel A complete loss of the bowel and urinary function with other medical complications, Up to £184,200
Total Deafness and Loss of Speech A rubella infection could have caused deafness at an early age. This will also impact the speech’s natural development. £109,650 to £140,660
Lung Disease Lung cancer in an older person that impairs the lungs function and causes severe pain. £70,030 to £97,330
Lung Disease A disease, such as emphysema that impairs breathing and worsens the lungs function. £54,830 to £70,030
Digestive System (b)(i) Severe toxicosis causing serious acute pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever, requiring hospital admission for some days or weeks. £38,430 to £52,500
Bladder Despite there being an almost complete recovery, there will be some long-term interference with the bladder’s natural function. £23,410 to £31,310
Hernia Continuing pain with a limitation on physical activities, and employment after having the hernia repaired. £14,900 to £24,170
Moderate Psychiatric Damage The injured person will have problems related to life, work, education and relationships but there will have been marked improvement and a good prognosis £5,860 to £19,070

These amounts are general estimates and will vary in each case, but they give an idea of the appropriate compensation amounts for various injuries.

Types Of Damages Awarded For Medical Negligence

In addition to general damages, your compensation claim could also include special damages. These damages seek to compensate you for any out of pocket expenses that you’ve incurred as a direct result of your injuries. 

When you suffer an injury, a whole array of unexpected and unwanted new costs can arise. You may be unable to work, resulting in a loss of earnings. Travel costs can also mount up, and you may find that you need treatment not available on the NHS to aid in your recovery. You may be able to claim these costs back in a medical negligence claim.

A No Win No Fee lawyer can help you collect together evidence of all these outgoings. It’s possible to recoup many different expenses if you can prove they were the result of the injuries you sustained.

Have you now forfeited a work attendance bonus? Perhaps you need modifications in your home or expensive medical procedures to correct the damage to your health? Do you need a carer now because of long-lasting injuries? A whole range of financial losses could be included in your claim. aking the guidance of a medical negligence lawyer could help ensure you get the full amount of compensation that’s owed to you.

Proving You Were Owed A Duty Of Care

When a medical practitioner assumes some sort of responsibility for their patient, they accept a duty of care to safeguard their wellbeing. By accepting this, they agree to act in accordance with a relevant standard of care expected of an ‘ordinarily competent practitioner’. 

In other words, they agree to conduct themselves to the standard set in their profession. In this respect, a newly registered doctor would be expected to perform duties to the same level as one with decades of experience. Failure to adhere to these standards when delivering care can be classed as negligence.

The General Medical Council is a body that protects patient rights and their medical register lists doctors in the UK. The GMC gives patients confidence that their health professional is working to the highest possible standards of knowledge, skill and care. 

How To Show This Breach Caused The Specific Injuries

You need to prove that your condition was caused or made worse by negligence in order to claim medical negligence. Was it ‘more likely than not that the medical practitioner made you worse because of something they did or did not do? Was the standard of care they delivered sufficient? Did they exercise reasonable skill when performing their duties? If not, you could be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence.

You may be wondering how this reasonable standard of care is assessed. The Bolam test was set out in a case called Bolam v Friern Barnett Hospital Management Committee. It established that the medical staff must prove they provided a standard of care that professionals in the same field would regard as acceptable.

A form of ‘trial by peers’, the Bolam test is an effective way of gauging whether a healthcare provider fell short of their medical requirements in patient care. A doctor who did everything as they were supposed to is unlikely to fail the Bolam test, even if the subsequent treatments proved to be ineffective.

Proving That The Negligence Caused Your Injury

A medical negligence solicitor can help you to prove causation in your medical negligence case. Using the results of the independent medical examination, it can be possible to establish if the care you received ‘materially contributed’ to your problems. This allows the court to consider the overall picture of your treatment. 

For example, a case requiring gallstone removal was handled incorrectly. After the operation, this developed into pancreatitis, causing breathing problems and a choking incident. This, in turn, resulted in brain damage.

The question before the court was, did the patient suffer injuries caused by defective care in gallstone removal or the natural consequence of pancreatitis? Fine distinctions like this can be the hallmark of proving a medical negligence claim, and a medical negligence solicitor can prove useful in guiding you through them.

Applying The ‘But For’ Test

The ‘but for’ test asks us ‘but for the actions of that particular doctor or health practitioner, would I have suffered injury or a worsening of my condition?’. 

Often in medical scenarios, there is a succession of treatments, and it may be difficult to prove that any lone action was responsible. Some cases may be clear-cut incompetence, but many are not. A medical negligence solicitor can help with applying the “but for” test to your individual circumstances.

How The Egg Shell Rule Applies To Medical Negligence Claims

The ‘egg shell’ rule states that people with unusually fragile medical conditions are not discriminated against in compensation claims. It aims to protect people from having their cases dismissed because they are less physically robust.

For example, a patient may suffer from osteoporosis, meaning that their bones are brittle and more prone to breaking. However, this doesn’t negate the fact that a nurse who moves the patient from a wheelchair to a bed in a rough manner, breaking one of the patient’s bones as a result, could be negligent. 

When it comes to proving medical negligence, many factors come into play. The code of conduct of the medical professional, their actions, and the effects their actions have had on you will all be taken into account. But in a medical negligence case, we must ask ‘how did these factors combine to actually worsen your state of health?

Picking through these details is something a No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitor is trained to help with. Speak to us today to see how we can calculate compensation on your behalf.

What Evidence Can Help In Proving Medical Negligence?

How do I prove a medical negligence case? What evidence can demonstrate the results of negligence? The following can help:

  • A letter of complaint – as the injured party, you have the right to complain about the problem to your GP or health practice. They will have a complaints procedure, and this is your first official intention to use it. Making an official complaint is not a part of the medical negligence claims procedure, but you may find that it helps you in making a claim by providing more details as to what happened. 
  • Medical records – you are legally entitled to access and read all your own medical records. Therefore, every procedure and decision will be there in black and white, providing solid evidence for what took place.
  • Expert medical evidence – as we touched upon above, the results of a medical assessment could substantiate your claim of clinical negligence, providing concrete proof of injury. A medical assessment can be arranged for you as part of the claims process. 
  • Financial evidence – this will support the special damages head of your claim. Special damages seek to compensate you for any costs you’ve incurred as a direct result of the injury or illness that you suffered because of medical negligence. It’s essential to retain all bills, receipts, and statements in order for expenses to be included.

If the negligence resulted in death, a claim can be made using the death certificate, post-mortem results and details of any inquest that has taken place. We encourage you to reach out to our team at this difficult time for sensitive and helpful advice.

Proving Medical Negligence In No Win No Fee Claims

Your No Win No Fee solicitor will fight for you to receive the full amount of compensation you’re owed. Because it’s a No Win No Fee service, they also have a committed interest in achieving the absolute best outcome. Failed cases result in no one receiving payment.

Medical negligence claims can be difficult to navigate without a skilled professional on your side. 

There are various advantages to using a No Win No Fee service:

  • There are no initial fees to pay to hire your solicitor.
  • As the case progresses, there are no fees to pay your solicitor.
  • Your solicitor will only take on your claim if they’re confident it has a good chance of succeeding. This means you won’t waste your time pursuing a case where no compensation is due.
  • In addition to this, if your case fails, there are no fees to pay your solicitors at all.

The advantages to No Win No Fee agreements continue. Successful cases require you to pay a capped percentage to the solicitors as their fee. This amount is only due after you receive your payout and is deducted from your compensation. 

Our medical negligence claims team is available right now to discuss the specifics of your compensation claim for medical negligence. There’s no obligation to proceed with our panel of solicitors. We simply aim to give you the resources to make an informed decision. Free legal advice is invaluable when proving medical negligence claims, so why not give us a call?

If you’re ready to start a claim for medical negligence, it’s easy to get in touch. Please feel free to:

More Information

If you’d like to know more about making a medical negligence claim after a dental procedure, you can read our guide to dental negligence claims.

Read our guide on claiming for medical negligence resulting in death for information on claiming for a wrongful death caused by a breach of a medical professional’s duty of care. 

Have you suffered injury or illness after a mistake in a surgical procedure? If so, you can read our guide on claiming for an operation that has gone wrong to find out how you could claim. 

If you have experienced pressure or bed sores from inappropriate care in a hospital you can be eligible to receive compensation. Find out more in our guide which details the process and how to gather supporting evidence for this particular case.

As well as providing information and guidance to doctors, the General Medical Council also provides patient materials on what to expect from your doctor. You may find this useful in determining whether your doctor breached their duty of care.

Have you needed to look into care costs? Perhaps your injuries have resulted in you needing help with basic domestic tasks? This NHS guide to paying for social care provides useful information.

The NHS constitution outlines the rights owed to patients, staff and members of the public. Furthermore, it offers guidance on the NHS complaints procedure.

Other Medical Negligence Guides

Thank you for reading our guide on proving medical negligence.