Compensation for medical negligence

If you are looking for an apology, make a complaint to the hospital or care service, following their complaints procedure.

You might want clinical practice to be improved and to reduce the chance of a similar incident happening to other people. This may be achieved by making a complaint. It may happen because you make a claim, but should not be the reason you make a claim.

If you want financial compensation

The aim of making a claim is to seek financial compensation to help pay for the extra support and care needed as the result of impairment.

The first stage is to consult a solicitor, who should help you to:

  • get access to medical records
  • get independent and unbiased expert medical opinions about the causes
  • establish whether or not you have a potential claim for negligence and the possibility of an award of compensation

If you cannot establish a negligence claim, this basic investigation should give you a better understanding of what may and may not have caused your or your child's impairment.

Why is compensation awarded?

Compensation is awarded to give a person the financial resources to get appropriate support and care and to exercise choice in this provision.

Compensation aims to place the disabled person in the position she would have been in had the negligence not happened. But this is clearly impossible for someone whose impairment will affect every aspect of daily living for the rest of her life.

Tips to help with your claim

  • Keep a diary of extra costs you incur because of your or your child’s impairment
  • Keep receipts of these expenses and fix them to the relevant sections of your diary

How is compensation calculated?

Future expenses specific to the individual’s need are calculated following advice from a range of experts such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, architects, accountants, employment consultants, rehabilitation consultants and others.

The amount awarded should reflect

  • The capital and annual cost of appropriate accommodation and adapting accommodation to meet the person's needs
  • The cost of providing adequate care and specialist equipment
  • Loss of earnings where employment potential is compromised
  • Transport and mobility aids
  • Social and leisure pursuits
  • Other factors relevant to each specific case such as the cost of continuing education, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy
  • Costs involved with administering the award in the Court of Protection

An award of compensation will normally be split into 2 parts:

  • A lump sum - a capital award designed to meet past expenses and immediate future expenses.
  • Periodical payments - these may be made quarterly, bi-annually or annually in advance. They provide a guaranteed index-linked, tax-free, annual income and are meant to meet future costs as they come up, as predicted.

What happens to the money awarded?

Money awarded in compensation for a child will usually be held by the court until the child reaches 18. After that it can be paid out of court to be under that person’s control, often with the support of a case manager.

If the individual is incapable of properly managing their own affairs, the Court of Protection will administer the money. Parents are usually involved in managing the award and the decision-making process.

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