Medical Negligence

A Guide to Medical Negligence Compensation

Despite the fact that you may be entitled to claim medical negligence compensation, learning that you or a loved one have been a victim of medical negligence can be a devastating experience — filling you with a mixture of upsetting emotions. These emotions, in turn, can further affect your physical and psychological health, leading to an overall decline in your quality of life. Without question, your priority is to tend to your health first and only later, when your immediate needs have been met, should you consider making a claim for medical negligence injury compensation. At that time, speaking with an Irish medical negligence solicitor about your experience is highly recommended.

Claiming for an Injury or Loss

Claims for medical negligence compensation must prove that an injury, a loss or the preventable deterioration of an existing condition occurred – negligence alone does not offer grounds for making a claim for medical negligence injury compensation. Even if you have been the victim of a medical error or misdiagnosis, in order for you to make a medical negligence injury claim for compensation, there must have been an “unfavourable outcome” which at the time the injury occurred and under the circumstances in which it occurred could have been avoided had greater care been taken.

What Constitutes Medical Negligence?

A medical practitioner owes any patient he or she agrees to treat a duty of care. When a breach occurs in that duty of care — that is, when a medical practitioner displays a poor professional performance which results in an avoidable injury — the practitioner in question is considered to be negligent. What constitutes a ”poor professional performance” is determined by one or more medical experts who establish that on the “balance of probability” the course of action taken by the medical practitioner in question displayed a lack of skill or an inability to display that skill.

Contributory Negligence in Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

Sometimes, the personal making a medical negligence compensation claim may be assigned a degree of responsibility for causing or aggravating his or her injury. When this happens, the principle of contributory negligence applies. Contributory negligence allocates a percentage degree of responsibility to each party for causing the injury, which works in the following manner: if you are considered to have contributed to your accident by a degree of 20 percent, the defendant (the medical practitioner against whom the claim for medical negligence injury is being made) would be liable for 80 percent of the medical negligence compensation settlement.

General Damages and Special Damages in Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

In all personal injury cases, including medical negligence cases, compensation awards are comprised of general damages and special damages. General damages account for the pain and suffering you have experienced due to the negligence of a medical practitioner, the impact that the medical negligence has had on your quality of life and, where applicable, compensation for a reduced life expectancy.

Special damages address quantifiable financial losses which are directly attributable to the consequences of a medical negligence injury. For example, if you are unable to work due to an injury caused by medical negligence, you could claim loss of earnings through special damages. Furthermore, all costs which you would not otherwise have, were it not for the injury, can be recovered through special damages. Such costs can include expenses associated with treatment and rehabilitation, prescription drugs and various associated costs.

Medical Negligence Injury Compensation and Insurance Companies

By law, medical practitioners in Ireland are required to have professional indemnity insurance through a medical insurance company before they are allowed to practise. When a claim for medical negligence injury is resolved, it is the insurance company of the negligent medical practitioner who is financially responsible for paying your medical negligence injury compensation settlement. Unsurprisingly, this often leads insurance companies approaching victims of medical negligence with an offer of early settlement soon after an admission of medical negligence has been made.

While these offers may seem well-meaning and tempting at a time when you may be recovering from the injury caused by the insurance company´s client, you may want to consider why these offers are made in the first place. Generally, offers of medical negligence injury compensation are made to cut costs on not only the insurance company’s legal fees but also on the amount of the compensation settlement. As such, you are highly advised to consult with a medical negligence solicitor should you receive such an offer.

Speak with a Solicitor about Making a Claim for Medical Negligence

No two claims for medical negligence compensation are identical – even when the nature and severity of the injury are the same. Therefore, although you may encounter a wide range of information on the Internet – and probably receive plenty of well-meaning advice from friends and family as well – there is no substitute for speaking with an Irish medical negligence solicitor when making a claim for medical negligence injury.

Only an Irish medical negligence solicitor can provide you with accurate legal advice about making a medical negligence injury claim which is specific to your personal circumstances and, as strict time limits apply to the length of time you have available to make medical negligence injury claims for compensation once it has been discovered that you or a loved one have been the victim of medical negligence, it is advisable to speak with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity.