Medical Negligence Solicitors - UK Injury Compensation Claim Advice

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Medical negligence compensation claims are dealt with using the no win no fee scheme. If you would like to talk to medical negligence solicitors about your potential claim just complete the contact form or use the helpline. Our solicitors offer free initial advice on no win no fee medical negligence compensation claims without any obligation whatsoever. If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further you will not be charged for our initial advice.

Most civil action based on medical negligence law is now funded using a no win no fee arrangement which is formally called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Our no win no fee medical negligence solicitors will explain the CFA personally in detail and will confirm the effect of entering into a CFA in writing before the arrangement is concluded. Our solicitors offer No Win No Fee arrangements and clients typically pay 25% or 35% (dependent on complexity) of the amount recovered to those solicitors as a success fee, although this will be subject to your individual circumstances. The actual amount to be paid may be less than this but it will never be more.

Duty of Care

In order to succeed in legal action for compensation for personal injury, medical negligence solicitors must initially establish that the proposed defendant (usually a doctor, dentist or a Healthcare Authority) owes the claimant (the injured patient) a duty of care. Medical negligence law defines a 'duty of care' as a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring a reasonable standard of care in their dealings. It normally comprises implicit obligations and responsibilities that the usual doctor/patient relationship satisfies.


In general terms negligence is a failure to use reasonable skill and care however current medical negligence law has substantially complicated that basic definition. Whether or not a medical practitioner has been negligent is not judged in absolute terms but is considered in relationship to the conduct of other doctors faced with a similar situation. The basic rule is that if a doctor carries out treatment that is supported by a substantial body of the medical profession there will be no finding of clinical negligence if that treatment fails even if it is considered that another type of treatment may have been successful provided that the question of choice of treatment was approached in a logical fashion.

Medical negligence law is governed by both statute and legal cases and has developed slowly for centuries however the milestone event was the 1932 case of Donoghue v. Stevenson finally heard on appeal in the House of Lords which established the beginnings of modern medical negligence law. In order to prove a Birmingham compensation claim within the general law of negligence it is necessary show that a duty of care exists, that the duty has been breached and that reasonably foreseeable harm has arisen as a result of the breach. If you have been injured and need advice just call the helpline.

Medical negligence law is a sub set of rules based on Donoghue v. Stevenson with specific requirements that apply to most of the professions. The Bolam test deriving from the 1957 case of Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee is one of the rules used to determine liability. This rule requires a professional person to achieve a degree of skill that matches other similar professionals. It is not an absolute test and perfection is not required. In addition the 1997 case of Bolitho v City and Hackney Health Authority determined that if a significant body of professionals would have acted differently from the mainstream then following that alternative course of action would not result in liability even though it failed provided that the minority view was considered to be logical. Any cases started in the courts must satisfy all three tests in order for compensation to be awarded.


The purpose of a damages award is to put the injured party back in to the position they would have been in had the error not occurred. This is a difficult proposition to satisfy as money cannot ever properly compensate for physical injury however there is no other acceptable solution available and the courts approach it as best they can. Medical negligence law determines that the amount of compensation that is awarded depends on the extent of the injury, the recovery period and whether or not there are any long term consequences. The amount of an award is determined after consideration of previously decided cases coupled with government guidelines published by the Judicial Studies Board tempered by the Judges legal experience.

Assessment of the amount of general damages to be awarded in a medical negligence compensation claim is usually carried out by a judge after representations are made to him by the lawyers for both sides. The judge is entitled to make reference to previously decided cases, to his own experience of settling cases both as a judge and as a practising lawyer and is also guided by suggested rates of settlement put forward by the Judicial Studies Board in a publication called the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases. A helpful book which outlines hundreds of previously decided damages cases, often referred to by lawyers, called 'The Quantum of Damages' by Kemp & Kemp is available for consideration in most public libraries.

For the sake of convenience, damages in a medical negligence compensation claim are divided into two categories called general damages and special damages:-

    Special damages represents compensation for items that can be calculated easily and accurately and includes wages losses, care costs and expenses already incurred.

    General damages represents compensation for items that cannot be calculated accurately where there is usually an element of estimation which includes the amount to be paid for pain and suffering.

Time Limits

As with most legal processes there are time limits involved in making solicitors claims. The reasoning behind these limits is mainly to do with the reliability of evidence. Memories fade and documentary evidence becomes lost or destroyed. Limiting the time available also allows both parties to move on knowing that all matters have been dealt with and there will be no uncertainties in the future. The figure to bear in mind with medical negligence compensation claim law is that of three years. This is the primary time limit for personal injury cases as defined by the Limitation Act of 1980.

The legislation outlines time limits applicable under medical negligence law and the time limit does not begin to count down until the date upon which the person making a claim knows the full identity of the defendant and knows that the injury they caused was both 'significant' and 'attributable to negligence'. Therefore, under the Limitation Act of 1980, until you are fully aware of what has happened to you, there is no time limit to worry about but you should take legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible after the event:-

    Under the Limitation Act of 1980 the normal three year time limit does not begin until the potential claimant is 18 years old. After this time, the last chance expires on the eve of his or her 21st birthday.

    Mental Disability
    If a potential claimant is suffering from mental disability time does not start running until full mental capacity has returned. In cases where the loss of mental capacity lasts for long periods of time, claims for compensation can be made long after the typical three year time limit has passed. If a person is permanently mentally disabled then a claim can be made at any time on their behalf.

    Judges Discretion
    Clinical negligence law under the Limitation Act 1980 gives the court wide powers of discretion and can extent the time limits in special situations but this is unusual and cannot be relied on if the time limit has expired.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here