How do you prove clinical negligence?

Clinical negligence solicitor meeting client

Mark Slater is a renowned Clinical Negligence expert with an outstanding reputation for excellence.  His depth and breadth of knowledge much sought after by peers and clients alike. Throughout his career he has not only achieved millions of pounds in damages for clients but also secured those vital packages of treatment and rehabilitation that are crucial to his clients’ recoveries, improving their quality of life and longer term prospects. 

How do you prove clinical negligence? The short answer is with evidence. The test that the Court will apply is a legal one and, is the same for any type of negligence (negligent plumber or negligent architect).  The starting point is whether the clinical care in question, looks to the Court to have been negligent.  The legal test is very simple.  Would the reasonable man or woman consider the actions of the defendant to be negligent?  Whilst there is a lot of refinement that has happened over the decades, this is the starting point.

The person accused of clinical negligence can defend the allegation if there is a group of other clinicians in their field who would have done the same thing and the logic behind the treatment makes sense to the judge who hears the case.

Independent experts

Independent experts

In practice, what this means is that to prove clinical negligence we need independent experts in the same field of medicine to assess the factual evidence (medical records and any statements from patients and clinicians) and to give an opinion for the Court on whether or not the care makes sense and can be defended.

Suing your GP

If someone wanted to sue their GP for treatment that they believed had been negligent then, in very basic terms, we would send their GP notes to another GP and ask whether other GPs would consider that care acceptable or not.  If a small minority of GPs would, we then ask whether their stance can be logically justified.  If it can then there is a defence to the case and negligence cannot be proved.

Claiming damages

In addition to proving that the care was negligent, someone wanting to claim damages also has to prove that the injury they have was caused or at least contributed to by the care in question.  This is often the harder part to prove as not all treatment works, so it is not certain that even correct care makes any difference to the outcome.  Some conditions are resistant to treatment and chances of a “cure” may not be high enough to show a link.

If you are affected by any of the issues outlined here, please get in touch today. We are here to help.