Medical errors can have a significant impact on a person’s health, wellbeing, career and personal life, as well as their loved ones.
Where those errors are caused by medical negligence (also sometimes referred to as ‘clinical negligence’), compensation may be available for those affected.
What counts as medical negligence?
Medical care may be considered negligent where:
- A patient was owed a duty of care by a clinical professional.
- That duty of care was breached by substandard treatment (i.e. the care provided fell below the standard expected of a competent clinical professional).
- The errors made resulted in injury to the patient (including both physical and psychological injury).
Types of clinical professionals it may be possible to pursue a claim against include doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, midwives, psychiatrists and surgeons.
What might medical negligence compensation cover?
Compensation for medical negligence can potentially cover specific financial costs such as paying for medical treatment, rehabilitation services, care support and specialist equipment, as well as lost income.
It may also be possible to claim for the non-financial impact of negligent medical care, such as pain and suffering and loss of amenity (i.e. not being able to carry out activities the claimant previously enjoyed).
What is the time limit for a medical negligence claim?
There is a two-year time limit for most types of medical negligence claims, so it is important to keep this in mind when considering pursuing compensation.
Our expertise with medical negligence claims in Ireland
For 30 years, our medical negligence solicitors in Dublin have helped clients to claim compensation for a wide range of medical errors and injures. We make sure claims are handled effectively from the outset, ensuring no detail is overlooked and that clients understand what is happening and what to expect at every stage of the claims process.
Lavelle Solicitors was named Medical Negligence Law Firm of the Year for Ireland at the 2017 InterContinental Finance & Law awards.
Head of Medical Negligence Avril Scally has over 16 years’ experience dealing with a wide range of claims for clients all over Ireland and is a member of AVMA (Action Against Medical Accident) and APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers).
As well as helping with the legal side of pursuing a medical negligence claim, our team can also assist with accessing specialist care and rehabilitation services.
Our medical negligence solicitors can assist with all types of claims, including:
We are also highly experienced in dealing with all types of personal injury claims.
How medical negligence claims work
Establishing that medical care was negligent
Before anyone can make a claim for medical negligence, they must first obtain a report from an appropriate qualified medical expert to confirm that the medical care you received fell below acceptable standards.
For a valid claim, it will need to be shown that two conditions have been met:
A breached of duty of care – It must be shown that the clinical staff providing treatment owed the patient a duty of care and that they breached that duty of care by making mistakes that no other health professional would have made under the same circumstances.
Harm suffered due to that breached duty of care – It must be shown that the harm a patient suffered was caused by the clinician’s errors i.e. on the balance of probability, the harm would have been avoided if the clinician had not made the errors that they did.
The balance of probability means that it must be shown there is at least a 50% chance that the clinician was responsible for the harm a patient suffered.
How much compensation is available for a specific instance of medical negligence will be determined by the impact on the patient of the harm caused. This can include:
- Any financial costs or losses caused by the patient’s injuries
- Future financial losses or costs the patient expects to incur due to their injuries
- The non-financial impact on the patient’s life such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of amenity (not being able to carry out activities the claimant previously enjoyed)
Out-of-court settlements for medical negligence claims
In many cases, it is possible to settle medical negligence claims out of court through a voluntary settlement with the clinician or healthcare provider responsible for a claimant’s injuries. This can potentially make the claims process faster and involve lower legal fees.
Taking a medical negligence claim to court
Where a settlement cannot be negotiated, it may be necessary for a medical negligence claim to be pursued through the courts. In such cases, it is important for claimants to have effective representation to ensure their case is built and presented in the strongest possible way.
Interim payments for medical negligence
Often there is the need for immediate financial support to cover costs such as fees for medical treatment, rehabilitation care and other essential support.
Where this is the case, it may be possible to secure interim payments while a claim is ongoing, allowing the claimant to access the support they need sooner.
Fatal medical negligence claims
Where someone has died due to medical negligence, an appointed personal representative of the deceased may be able to make a claim under the terms of the Civil Liability Act, 1961, Part 4. They will have two years from the the date of death to do so.
In the event that a personal representative is not appointed within six months of the date of death, anyone who was a dependant of the deceased at the time of their death can potentially pursue a claim within the time limit.
Compensation for a fatal medical negligence can include damages for:
- Psychological distress – capped at €35,000
- Loss of dependency – covering the loss of financial and practical support from the deceased
- Specific financial losses resulting from the death – including funeral expenses
Find out more about fatal medical negligence claims.
Time limits for medical negligence claims
Patients normally have two years to claim compensation for medical negligence in most circumstances. However, there are some situations where patients may have more time to claim.
The date of knowledge for medical negligence claims
A key point is that the two-year time limit will be counted from the ‘date of knowledge’ i.e. the date when the claimant was first aware of the following key points:
- That they/their loved one has been injured.
- That the injury was significant.
- That the injury was caused by negligent medical treatment.
- The identity of the person responsible for the injury.
The date of knowledge could potentially be weeks, months or even years after the injuries occur, so this can have a significant impact on how long a person has to claim.
Time limits for medical negligence compensation for children
Where the claimant was under 18 at the time the negligence occurred, the standard two-year time limit will be counted from their 18th birthday.
They and/or their parents or guardians will therefore have until the claimant turns 20 to make a claim.
Time limits for claimants who lack mental capacity
If the claimant is deemed to lack the mental capacity to pursue a claim themselves, there is normally no time limit for someone else to make a claim on their behalf.
If the claimant later regains mental capacity (e.g. if they wake from a coma) then the two-year time limit will be counted from the date of knowledge as with a standard claim.
Time limits for fatal medical negligence claims
If someone has died as a result of medical negligence, then a representative of their estate will have two years to bring a claim from the date of death.
Our medical negligence claims pricing
The exact fees for pursuing a medical negligence compensation claim will depend on the circumstances. Factors that may affect these costs include whether the claim can be resolved with an out-of-court settlement or whether court proceedings are required.
Our team will discuss costs and funding options during clients’ initial consultation.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of S.I. No. 229 of 2019.
Lavelle Partners secures settlement for Plaintiff who suffered substantial bladder injury during surgery which led to her needing to lose a kidney
Lavelle Partners secures settlement for a Plaintiff suffering from Cerebral Palsy due to negligence surrounding the circumstances of his birth at a regional hospital
Lavelle Partners secures settlement for Plaintiff who developed cervical cancer following a misread smear test
Lavelle Partners secures significant settlement for Plaintiff who lost her husband due to delay in diagnosing his cancer
Lavelle Partners secures substantial settlement for Plaintiff who suffered an undiagnosed abscess on her brain following brain surgery
Lavelle Partners secures significant settlement for Plaintiff who lost her right fallopian tube and ovary due to overlooked torsion
Lavelle Partners secures substantial settlement for Plaintiff who suffered significant damage to her teeth as a result of incompetent orthodontic work