Medical negligence claims for compensation are acknowledged to be the most complex of all personal injury claims in Ireland and due to this the Injuries Board has no remit to process applications for assessment of medical negligence compensation.
The Injuries Board will return any assessments it receives in error, and potential plaintiffs who have suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to the negligence of a medical practitioner will have to engage the service of a solicitor to pursue their claim.
Seeking legal advice about medical negligence claims can be disconcerting for a patient who is still suffering an injury from the negligent treatment – or lack of treatment – they received, but plaintiffs should not be discouraged from speaking with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
The process for claiming compensation for medical negligence usually starts with the patient (or a family member representing the patient) having an informal discussion with a solicitor about the circumstances of the injury and what the consequences of the injury have been.
If the solicitor feels that there is a claim for medical negligence compensation which has a high probability of success, he or she will ask the patient for permission to access their medical notes and these will be reviewed by an independent medical expert.
If the medical expert agrees that “under the circumstances and at the time” the loss, injury or deterioration of an existing condition could have been avoided with greater care, the expert will provide the solicitor with the evidence of negligence that the solicitor needs to support a “Letter of Claim”.
The “Letter of Claim“ is then sent to the negligent medical practitioner, hospital or private medical facility, advising them that a compensation claim for medical negligence is being made against them and, depending on the strength of evidence collected, inviting the negligent party to make an offer to settle.
Medical negligence claims in Ireland are often rigorously defended, and it may take some time before a claim for medical negligence compensation is resolved. However, court action is rarely required when there is sufficient evidence of negligence, as the party responsible for causing the injury is unlikely to want court costs added to the settlement of a claim made against them.
It is important to note that no two medical negligence claims are identical – even when the nature of the injury or its cause has happened many times before. Each claim for medical negligence compensation should be assessed on its individual merits and in relation to the personal circumstances of the plaintiff.
There are many different ways in which an injury due to medical negligence can affect a plaintiff – from the physical and emotional trauma they experience to the non-financial changes they have to make to their lives.
Any settlement of compensation for medical negligence should also take into account all the financial implications of an injury including the cost of care to look after the injured party and any income they may have lost due to the avoidable mistake made by a medical practitioner.
Therefore, it is important that an assessment of a plaintiff´s right to claim compensation for medical negligence is conducted at the earliest possible opportunity and why you should speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor if you or a loved one have suffered an injury, a loss or the deterioration of an existing condition due to the poor professional performance of a medical practitioner.