Medical negligence often requires a solicitor to help you to get compensation
Very few things are worse than being ill. If it is serious, then we rely on healthcare professionals to care for us and treat us so that we get better. We are vulnerable and often in pain, so we trust them to make the best decisions for our well-being. Usually medical professionals behave impeccably and deserve the admiration they receive from the general public. Sometimes however, treatment doesn't run smoothly and it appears that things could have been done better. Minor mistakes can be made in any treatment that could delay your recovery. In most cases these are better shrugged off, and you should concentrate on getting well again. But sometimes serious mistakes are made and, because we are already weak, those errors can have devastating repercussions. Medical negligence could cost you your long term health, your career or have a detrimental effect on your family. When that happens, you should consult a medical negligence lawyer.
Please remember that if you want to sue a hospital or health board for damages, you are only addressing the issues legally. Taking them to court will not force the medical practitioner to apologise to you, nor can you ensure that the hospital changes its procedures. Also this is not the way to get a doctor struck off or officially reprimanded. Claiming damages for medical negligence is only about securing compensation for your suffering. You may receive an apology and the hospital may change their work practices, but that will only be a secondary effect of your claim. You are entitled to claim against any medical practitioner who has treated you, regardless of whether they are working privately or for the NHS.
Of course, there are various different forms of negligence you could claim for, some that involve treatment and some that reflect a lack of treatment. You could have suffered from a surgical error, someone giving you the wrong medication, a doctor coming to the wrong diagnosis, or delaying diagnosis unreasonably. Alternatively, you may have been given the incorrect treatment, were not warned about the risks or side effects of treatment, or not been asked to give the proper consent. It may seem to you that you have clear evidence of negligence, but it is worth considering how it might appear to a judge. You are a very subjective witness who was probably in pain, or heavily drugged at the time. The human body is complex and the effect of medication is sometimes unpredictable. Doctors often have to make educated guesses, working on little information in urgent life and death situations. The medical professional may have done the right thing in the given circumstances and the treatment may have failed anyway. Deciding to claim for medical negligence is a difficult decision and you would be well advised to speak to a medical lawyer about your case.
Medical negligence law puts a time limit on claims. In most cases you have to claim within three years. There are exceptions, however: For minors, the three year limit does not start until their 18th birthday, no matter when the negligence took place. The limit runs from the time when the injury was discovered, even if the negligence took place long before. For people who are mentally handicapped, there is not usually a time limit at all. A judge can override the time limit if he sees fit, though this only happens in extreme circumstances. If you are worried about time limitation, then you should contact a lawyer and discuss it with them.
Like most legal specialities, if you intend to sue for medical negligence, you really must find a lawyer or solicitor who is an expert in this area of the law. This is not the sort of claim you want to leave to a general legal practitioner. The best way to find one is searching the internet. Make searches for phrases like ' medical negligence lawyers' or ' ". Then call them up and check that they specialise in your kind of case. When you speak to your lawyer, make sure you have as much information with you as possible. This could include dates, the names of the medical staff who treated you, any medical treatment you received, any witnesses who can support your statements, any evidence of malpractice that you may have and any correspondence you might have had with the hospital. The first consultation is usually free and the lawyer will be able to advise you if this is the best course of action for you to take.
There have been some massive medical negligence scandals over the years, where large pharmaceutical companies, or health boards have been responsible for gross negligence towards hundreds or thousands of people. However, most medical negligence cases involve a single claimant, who is trying to get redress for a medical error that has had dramatic consequences for their lives. Your health is your most precious asset. If you have been the victim of medical negligence you deserve to get compensation for your suffering.
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