Medical negligence, sometimes referred to as clinical negligence, is when a health professional lets a patient down by failing their duty to take care of them, resulting in a poorer medical outcome.
Such negligence may have resulted in the patient experiencing physical, mental or financial damage and loss.
If you, or someone you care for, has been misdiagnosed, or a programme of treatment has had a negative outcome as a result of poor practice, you may be entitled to compensation – regardless of whether you were being treated by the NHS or a private healthcare provider.
In most cases, the patient themself must be the person to bring forward a claim. However, there are two instances in which you may be able to make a medical negligence claim on behalf of somebody else, and we have detailed these below.
Claiming on behalf of a child
Children are unable to claim compensation. If the person who has experienced negligence is under the age of 18, an adult must put forward the claim on their behalf. This is typically the child’s parent or guardian, but may also be any relative able to act in the child’s best interests.
Until the child turns 18, a medical negligence claim can be made at any time – although it is always advisable to make a claim as soon as possible, because memories and supporting evidence fade over time. Once the child becomes an adult, a three-year time limit comes into effect.
Provided that the patient was under the age of 18 when the negligence occurred, the time limit begins on the child’s 18th birthday. Then, as a legal adult, that person has three years to make a claim for negligence experienced during their childhood.
Claiming on behalf of protected persons
To put forward a claim in their own name, a person must have the necessary mental capacity to do so. If someone is deemed unable to make a decision for themselves in relation to the matter ‘because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain’, then they are considered a protected party.
It is a legal requirement for the protected party to have another person instruct a solicitor on their behalf and commence proceedings. The person who makes the claim is known as the Litigation Friend, and is often a relative, carer or close friend, although professional Litigation Friends may also be appointed.
No time limit applies to claims made for protected persons, unless they have recovered and are deemed to have the capacity to act on their own legal affairs. From the point at which this happens, the protected party’s three-year limit begins, and they will be expected to put forward their own claim.
In the UK, we are incredibly fortunate to have a high standard of healthcare, with the majority of procedures taking place without incident. However, in the event of a medical error, it is important that you get the rightful outcome you deserve.
RHL Solicitors operates on a ‘no-win, no fee’ basis, meaning there are no hidden costs for our services and no financial risk involved if the claim is unsuccessful. To get in touch with our specialist Medical Negligence team, please click here.