Clinical negligence myth-busting fact sheet

We are lucky in the UK to be able to access great health care that is carried out by caring and professional medical practitioners. However, with budgets tightening and health care professionals increasingly working under pressure, mistakes can and do happen.

If you or a non-working family member think you have been injured because of clinical (or medical) negligence then Unite Legal Services can help. Here, we answer some commonly-asked questions about medical negligence compensation claims…

  • What does clinical negligence mean?

Clinical negligence happens when a medical practitioner has breached their duty of care by providing treatment that is below the standard reasonably expected of someone with their training and experience, and their mistake has caused you avoidable injury – physically or psychologically.

  • What is a clinical negligence compensation claim?

A clinical negligence compensation claim seeks to secure financial compensation for someone who feels they have been injured as a direct result of health care that fell below the standard ‘reasonably expected’ of a healthcare professional in the relevant field.

  • Are clinical negligence compensation claims difficult to win?

Clinical negligence is a complex and specialist area of law, and anyone seeking to secure compensation for clinical negligence should employ the skills of a solicitor who is a specialist in this field. The medical practitioner or authority you are accusing of negligence will be represented by experts and you will need to be, too. Unite Legal Services’ experienced clinical negligence solicitors can help you through every step of your claim.

  • Is there a time limit for making a clinical negligence compensation claim?

There is a strict three-year time limit for all personal injury compensation claims, which runs from the date you sustained your injury or could have reasonably identified your symptoms were caused by clinical negligence. So, if you’re a Unite member, and you believe you may have been injured because of clinical negligence, then you should contact us as soon as possible. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, so the sooner an experienced solicitor reviews the details of your case, the better.

  • How do I prove that my injury was caused by clinical negligence?

For your clinical negligence compensation claim to be successful, you must be able to prove that, “on the balance of probabilities”, the treatment you received was below the standard “reasonably expected” and that the injury you sustained was caused directly by the medical practitioner’s negligence. Expert analysis of medical evidence will be key to both sides. Clinical negligence cases are complicated, which is why seeking professional, specialist legal support is important - not least so you can focus on your recovery.

  • Can Unite Legal Services help me if my injury is not work-related?

Yes. As a Unite member, you are entitled to free and independent advice on a range of issues, work- and non-work-related, including personal injury and employment law. You can also access other legal services, such as wills and conveyancing.

  • I signed a waiver (or consent form) before my treatment. Can I still make a clinical negligence compensation claim?

Yes. Signing a waiver does not mean you give up your rights when you have been injured because of negligence. In fact, most disclaimers state that the waiver excludes liability for personal injury or death due to negligence. This is in line with the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, which states: “A person cannot by reference to any contract term or to a notice given to persons generally or to particular persons exclude or restrict his liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence”. If you have signed a waiver and are unsure as to whether you can start a clinical negligence compensation claim, then contact your Unite representative as soon as possible for free advice.

  • Why should I make a clinical negligence compensation claim?

Financial compensation for clinical negligence is not about ‘cashing in’ and will never make up for the physical or psychological suffering you have experienced. But, it can help cover the costs of any rehabilitation you may need, now or in the future, out of pocket expenses you have incurred, as well as any aids, equipment or home adaptions that could help ensure you continue to live as independently as possible.

  • How much will it cost me to make a clinical negligence compensation claim through Unite Legal Services?

As a Unite member, you and your immediate family are entitled to a free initial consultation with one of our specialist clinical negligence lawyers. If they feel you have grounds to pursue clinical negligence compensation and your compensation claim is successful, Unite Legal Services will not charge a success fee, unlike other firms that can deduct up to 25 per cent of the damages you are awarded. The only fee payable if your claim is successful relates to the cost of after the event insurance that is required to protect you from any adverse costs. Contact your Unite the union legal representative for more information, on 0800 709 007, or take a few moments to fill in our online enquiry form.