To make a legal claim for compensation, you have to prove two things. These are that:
- the care you received was below the standard that you could reasonably expect from a competent healthcare professional practising in that area of medicine (‘negligence’); and
- you have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a direct result of the negligent act or omission(‘causation’).
You cannot claim compensation just because someone has done something wrong. You have to prove that this has caused you an injury. For example, a doctor may be found to be negligent if he or she didn’t properly examine a sick child who was later diagnosed as suffering from meningitis. If the parents decide to take legal action because their child suffers long-term complications, their claim would succeed only if they could prove that an earlier diagnosis would have prevented the child’s injuries. The fact that the doctor didn’t examine the child properly is not enough on its own.
The main evidence you need for a clinical negligence claim will come from independent medical experts. These are doctors or other healthcare experts who can give an expert opinion on your case. They will base their opinion on:
- your medical records;
- your statement about what has happened; and
- any other documents supporting your case.
You may have to be examined by:
- your expert or experts; and
- experts working for the hospital or doctor you are claiming against.
If your solicitor can’t find a medical expert who will support your claim, it will fail.