Medical negligence lawyers are lawyers who offer legal services to people who were unfairly treated by medical professionals. Having illnesses and accidents are some of the most life-threatening moments in a person's lifetime. As a result, there will be huge medical costs involved. Hence, medical professionals have the duty and responsibility to carry out their tasks properly and correctly. Some of these professionals include:
- Assisting physicians
- Laboratory staff
- Or other health care specialists in hospitals
However, some healthcare professionals are unable to carry out their duties properly or effectively. Some forms of negligence are misdiagnosis, wrong prescriptions, unnecessary procedures, or poor services which lead to further injuries or infections. Discharging a patient from a hospital too soon is also a form of medical negligence. If all of these apply, patients may file a medical negligence claim with the help of a medical negligence lawyer.
Medical Negligence Claim
Healthcare providers have a duty to examine, diagnose, treat, and advise patients with reasonable competence, judgement, and care. Breaching this duty is referred to as medical negligence that will typically involve a medical negligence lawyer. Medical negligence lawyers can discuss a patient's options when making a successful medical negligence claim. The basic elements below can help prove medical negligence:
- A deliberate act or a deliberate inaction resulted in a violation of this duty of care.
- The effect of that failure resulted in the injury of the patient.
Patients wouldn't have a case for legal action if a medical expert was careless but his/her carelessness didn't result in an injury. The same would apply if the injury or condition worsened but not because of poor medical treatment. Here are some common examples of medical errors that may result in medical malpractice claims:
- Antenatal test failures, including those related to genetic disorders like Down's syndrome
- Ineffective pregnancy and poor labour management that causes harm to the infant
- Compensation claims for cerebral palsy
- Surgery errors, such as harming internal organs or nerves
- Negligent treatment during post-operative care
- Surgically caused nerve damage
- Birth defects
- Doctor's carelessness
- Healthcare malpractice
- Medication errors
- Orthopaedic surgical errors
The Civil Liability Act 2002 governs most aspects of personal injury law in New South Wales. The following are some examples of personal injury law under the Civil Liability Act:
- Car accidents;
- Medical malpractice
- Public and product liability. this includes recreational and sporting activities;
- Major injuries
Time Restrictions For Medical Negligence Claims
The majority of states and territories only allow three years. The three-year period begins on the day of the medical error, or, in some situations, the day it was first detected. A claim may be submitted outside of the allotted time frames if the harm or injury was not immediately apparent. There is also a possibility of extending time restrictions. In NSW, patients may bring a negligence claim within:
- 3 years after the patient has learned that medical malpractice happened; or
- 12 years have passed since the medical malpractice happened.
Note: It is highly advised to seek legal advice from a medical negligence lawyer when identifying time restrictions for medical negligence claims.
Medical Negligence Compensation
By law, all healthcare professionals are required to have Professional Indemnity Insurance. Therefore, the insurance company, not the negligent medical professional, is responsible for paying compensation in the event of an accident or injury. Damages in the form of monetary compensation are always subject to the case. However, damages can be of four categories: These are:
- The cost of medical care for a recent bodily or psychological harm
- Ongoing medical expenses, such as domestic assistance for people recovering from chronic injuries
- Non-economic (pain and suffering) damages for emotional or psychological anguish
- Loss of income or retirement benefits if the incident prevents the claimant from working and earning
There is no clear amount of how much compensation a claimant may receive for medical negligence. Again, it is important to seek legal advice from a medical negligence lawyer to know how much compensation a claimant may receive.
Medical Negligence Case Example
In the case of Smith v Hunter (2016), Mrs Smith claimed that a hospital failed to take care of her husband, Mr Smith. Mr Smith was suffering from agitated depression with psychosis. The husband allegedly committed suicide after being released from the hospital while taking the wrong prescription on February 9, 2004. Mrs Smith claimed that, due to the medical negligence, she suffered:
- Financially (funeral and burial expenses)
- Loss of financial benefits and domestic services that Mr Smith could have provided if he was still alive
There was also a problem with time restrictions regarding the medical malpractice claim because it was submitted nine years and ten months after the husband's passing. Mrs Smith was aware that hospital staff believed her husband had been prescribed the incorrect medication and had been released too soon.
In February 2004, Mrs Smith consulted with a medical negligence lawyer for a coronial investigation into her husband's passing. It was not mentioned whether negligence or compensation to relatives claims may be made. However, the case led to the acquisition of a medical expert's report.
Mr Baker, a friend of Mrs Smith, worked in the hospital where the husband was being treated. Mr Baker then told Mrs Smith that she only had seven years left to sue the hospital. After consulting with a different lawyer on December 17, 2010, Mrs Smith decided to get an expert report. On December 5, 2013, a statement of claim was submitted. Mrs Smith's claim proceeded within the limitation period.
Are You Looking for a Medical Negligence Lawyer?
Claimants should not put off seeking legal counsel when they have medical negligence cases. The law mandates that plaintiffs take reasonable steps to establish their claim as quickly as possible. In our case example, Mrs Smith made a late claim since she did not seek legal advice immediately. Thankfully, her friend Mr Baker reminded her to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.
JB Solicitors is aware of how emotionally and financially stressful medical negligence is. People pay good money to healthcare professionals in exchange for proper medical care and prescriptions. However, not all patients get the right diagnosis or prescriptions. This leads to injuries and even deaths.
Our team can help gather evidence efficiently and see if people are eligible in making a medical negligence claim.
Contact one of our lawyers today.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.