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What is medical negligence?

The law says that a doctor, midwife, nurse or other healthcare practitioner is negligent if they act in a way that falls below any acceptable standard of care. The patient is entitled to compensation for any injury that was caused by negligent medical care. They are also entitled to compensation for the financial consequences of that injury.

If you think that you or a family member have received negligent medical treatment which has caused serious injury or disability, we recommend that you speak to one of our friendly, experienced clinical negligence team as soon as possible.

Below you can find everything you need to know about medical negligence claims but if you wish to speak with us right away, you can contact us by telephone  0800 124 4845 or get in touch using our online form today.  Your enquiry will be handled confidentially and preliminary advice in relation to pursuing a claim will be given free of charge.

  1. How can you prove medical negligence? 
  2. How to make a medical negligence claim?
  3. What is causation in medical negligence claims?
  4. Will I need a medical examination if I make a medical negligence claim for compensation?
  5. How much compensation can you get for medical negligence? 
  6. How to fund a medical negligence claim? 
  7. Can I claim against the NHS?
  8. Can I make a claim on behalf of a child?
  9. Who can make a medical negligence claim?
  10. What can medical negligence compensation pay for? 

How can you prove medical negligence? 

Medical negligence cases are legally and medically complex. If you have been seriously injured by medical negligence and want to claim compensation, it is essential that your solicitors specialise in clinical negligence and understand what is required, both legally and medically, to prove your claim.

The law says that a medical practitioner is negligent if they have acted in a way that no responsible body of medical opinion would regard as acceptable. That means that if the care given was of a reasonable standard the court will not regard it as negligent, whatever the result.

Where healthcare is found to be (legally) negligent, then the claimant (the person making the claim) must prove that their injury was caused or significantly worsened by the negligent care. This is important because the patient may already be very ill when they receive negligent medical care. In those circumstances, they must prove that their injury (and its financial consequences) would have been avoided or greatly reduced if correct treatment had been given. This aspect of the medical negligence claim is known as ‘causation’. Causation must be proven, even if negligence is admitted, for the claim to succeed and compensation to be awarded.

Negligence and causation must be proven by supportive opinions from medical experts. For more details please visit our dedicated page on proving medical negligence. 

How to make a medical negligence claim?

If you think that you or a family member have received negligent medical treatment which has caused serious injury or disability, we recommend that you speak to one of our friendly, experienced clinical negligence team as soon as possible. You can contact us by telephone or by email. Your enquiry will be handled confidentially and preliminary advice in relation to pursuing a claim will be given free of charge.

Our solicitors will:

  • ask you to tell us, briefly:
  • what has happened;
  • what you think went wrong;
  • about your injuries;
  • how the injury has affected various aspects of your life.
  • advise you about the limitation deadlines (time limits) which apply to your claim;
  • advise you whether we are able to help you investigate your claim.

Full details on how to make a medical negligence claim. 

What is causation in medical negligence?

In a medical negligence claim, compensation will only be paid for injuries and loss that we can prove were caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence.

Once we know what mistakes were made, the next step (causation) is to identify the extent of the injury or disability that was caused by those mistakes. This process of proving causation can be complex in claims where there is more than one potential cause for the injury, such as in birth-related brain injury claims. It can also be complicated where the patient would have suffered from the condition that was being treated in any event, but additional injury was caused by negligent treatment or delay. 

Proving causation in complex medical negligence cases requires both medical expertise and understanding of the law. We often succeed in claims where NHS Resolution (the NHS’ defence organisation) has denied ‘causation’. You can read more about how we overcome difficulties with causation in complex birth injury cases here

Will I need a medical examination if I make a medical negligence claim for compensation?

A medical examination is usually needed to assess our client’s injury.  Where our client has suffered multiple injuries or both physical and psychological injuries, they may need to be examined by specialists in each area. This is important to make sure that our client’s injuries are fully assessed and understood, so that they can be properly compensated.

If a medical examination is needed, we instruct the specialist and make the arrangements. We ensure that they have access to our client’s medical records and are aware of the background to the claim. The hospital or doctor against whom the claim is being made may also ask for our client to be examined by their medical expert.

How much compensation can you get for medical negligence? 

In England and Wales, the law says that compensation for medical negligence should put the injured person back in the position that they would have been in but for the negligently caused injury, in so far as money can. This means that compensation is calculated carefully to reflect the injured individual’s personal circumstances. Whilst the way in which we calculate damages follows certain mandatory principles and practises, the differences in our clients’ injuries, pre-injury lifestyles and post-injury needs means that no two claims will be the same.

To find out more go to our dedicated page on compensation for medical negligence claims.

How to fund a medical negligence claim? 

As top-rated specialists in cerebral palsy and other serious neurological disability claims, we have access to Legal Aid funding for eligible clients.

Where Legal Aid is not available, we act for clinical negligence clients on a conditional fee agreement (CFA or ‘no win no fee’) basis.  Just as the name says, no win no fee means that unless our client wins their case there are no legal fees for them to pay. 

CFAs make it easier for people to afford a legal claim because they do not have to pay any upfront charges. There are no legal bills along the way. They pay nothing if they lose their claim. If they win, nothing is payable until the end of the case.

If an injured person has legal expense insurance which was in place at the time that they were injured by medical negligence, their legal expense insurance policy might help with funding their claim. If you have legal expense insurance, you should let us know as soon as you are considering making a claim.

Find out more about funding options for negligence claims.

Can I claim against the NHS? 

The NHS has a responsibility to provide its patients with a safe and acceptable level of care. If a patient is seriously injured or their condition is made significantly worse as a result of negligent NHS care, the patient may be entitled to  claim compensation. Making a claim against the NHS does not affect the patient’s future NHS healthcare. Compensation can help meet the costs of care, therapies, equipment and home adaptations that are needed when an NHS mistake causes injury or disability that permanently affects the patient’s life.

We are experts at helping clients receive the compensation they deserve from the NHS. We understand the concerns that patients and their families sometimes have about claiming against the NHS. You can read our answers to many of the most common questions on our NHS claims page or speak directly to one of our solicitors about your own claim by calling us free on 0800 124 4845.

Will making a claim affect my NHS treatment?

No, your NHS treatment should not be affected simply because you are making a claim.

Can I make a claim on behalf of a child?

If a baby, child or teenager under the age of 18 makes a claim for compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence, their claim is made on their behalf by a ‘litigation friend’. This is usually a parent or guardian. As the child’s solicitor, we have a responsibility to make sure that all decisions relating to the claim are made in the best interests of the child. To do this, we work very closely with the child’s family. Some important decisions, such as settlement agreements or the amount of money that is allocated to a child in a claim involving more than one claimant, must be approved by the court.

We are specialists in helping families obtain full compensation for children who have been very severely injured leaving them with permanent disability and lifelong specialist needs. Our expert children’s claims service includes a dedicated Court of Protection team who help our clients protect, budget and access their compensation via deputyship and trusts, and an SEN team to ensure that their special educational needs are met. Find out more about how we help families, children and teenagers with children’s claims.

Who can make a medical negligence claim?

Anyone who has suffered serious injury or disability as a result of negligent NHS or private medical care can make a medical negligence claim for compensation. Special rules apply to children, adults with mental incapacity, and claims arising from someone’s death. 

Children and teenagers under the age of 18, or anyone with mental incapacity, must make their claim via a ‘litigation friend’. This is usually a parent or guardian in the case of a child, or a partner or other adult family member in the case of an adult with mental incapacity.  The solicitor handling the claim takes instructions and works closely with the litigation friend whilst ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of the child or mentally incapable adult who is making the claim.  You can find out more about making a claim for a child.

Some important decisions, such as agreements to settle a child or mentally incapable adult’s claim, must be approved by the court.  Arrangements must also be made to safeguard the child or mentally incapable adult’s compensation, whether from an interim payment, lump sum settlement or agreed future payments. Depending on the claimant’s circumstances, this may be done by paying the money into a Court Funds Office account until the child is 18,  by appointing a Court of Protection deputy or setting up a personal injury trust.  You can find out more about Court of Protection deputyship and personal injury trusts.

If the claim is for bereaved family members and dependants after medical negligence caused someone’s death, the claim must be made by the deceased’s personal representative (executor or administrator of their estate) on behalf of all who are entitled to compensation as a result of the death. You find out more about making a fatal injury medical negligence claim.

What can medical negligence compensation pay for?

In medical negligence claims, compensation for serious injury and disability usually includes a sum for the injury, and sums to compensate for financial losses and the cost of meeting the needs that arise from the disability. Our expert knowledge and experience means that we recover maximum compensation in claims for catastrophic and life-changing injury.  We also ensure that our clients receive their compensation in the way that is best suited to meet their needs. In claims involving severe disability, compensation may include early interim payments, lump sums or lifelong, index-linked, annual payments.

Find out more about what can compensation pay for depending on individual circumstances.

Why choose Boyes Turner for your medical negligence claim?

Our nationally acclaimed medical negligence lawyers are recognised by Chambers Directory and Legal 500 as leading experts in clinical negligence. Our clients receive the highest standards of advice and representation and are always treated with compassion, outstanding care and understanding of the physical, emotional, psychological and financial impact that life-changing injury can have upon their lives.

We are known for obtaining the highest compensation awards and our track record of successful settlements speaks for itself.  In the last 12 months we have recovered over £100 million in compensation for our clients.

Our highly experienced medical negligence lawyers have the proven skills to succeed in high value, complex claims involving catastrophic injury and severe disability.

Interim payments to aid recovery

We work hard to secure early admissions of liability. This enables us to obtain substantial interim payments to begin easing the financial hardship which often follows a devastating injury. We use interim payments to make a real difference to the injured person and their family by getting care, rehabilitation and therapies underway as soon as possible. Depending on the client’s injury, we can help meet their needs for:

  • personal care and assistance;
  • physiotherapy;
  • occupational therapy;
  • speech and language therapy;
  • psychological counselling;
  • adapted accommodation;
  • wheelchairs;
  • transport;
  • prostheses;
  • assistive technology and other specialist equipment.

By understanding and targeting provision for our clients’ individual needs early in the claims process, we help restore our clients’ mobility, independence and ability to participate fully in family and social life, long before the claim has concluded.

Educational and workplace support

Depending on the type of injury, we can also facilitate our clients’ access to educational and vocational (workplace) support. We work closely with our special educational needs (SEN) specialists to achieve the right school placements for our disabled child clients.

Meet your team

Susan Brown

Partner

Julie Marsh

Partner

Richard Money-Kyrle

Partner

Sita Soni

Senior Associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Tara Byrne

Associate - Solicitor

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Ben Ireland

Solicitor

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

What our clients say

Our clients constantly recognize us as the most experienced, professional, efficient and supportive

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"Boyes Turner were professional, helpful and responsive"

Boyes Turner were professional, helpful and responsive in all of my dealings with them. They kept me informed throughout the entire process and gave me sound advice when required. I would recommend Boyes Turner to anyone who requires legal advice in the field of medical negligence. I was happy with my settlement and I am grateful for their work to achieve the end result

Boyes Turner client

"Having never taken legal action before..."

Having never taken legal action before, I found Boyes Turner very helpful and diligent during my injury claim. When I moved to the USA during the case, they were still able to answer all of my concerns and keep me informed, giving me advice every step of the way. I would recommend Boyes Turner to anyone who is considering representation

Boyes Turner client