Accident and Emergency (A&E) negligence compensation claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by A&E negligence we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered A&E negligence and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

In the UK, over 1.75 million people a month attend Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments with serious, or life-threatening, illnesses and injuries.

In the majority of cases, the care and treatment of emergency patients in A&E is exemplary. However, the often frenetic A&E environment can sometimes result in errors, and delays in urgently needed treatment.

Errors and delays in A&E care can be the cause of personal injury to patients, and can result in a medical negligence compensation claim.

Do I have an A&E negligence claim?

Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:

  • there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
  • the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.

Causation

To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.

Get an impartial opinion

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an A&E negligence claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.

Is compensation always payable?

If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".

Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.

Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.

How long do I have to start a claim?

If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.

It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?

You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.

The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).

It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.

How much compensation can I claim for A&E negligence?

The amount of money you could claim for your A&E negligence will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your A&E negligence has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after an A&E negligence? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for an A&E negligence claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following an A&E negligence will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your A&E negligence compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Can I claim for physiotherapy and private care costs?

Private treatment can be expensive, but funding towards the cost of this treatment frequently comprises part of a compensation award. Your solicitor may even be able to arrange access to private medical care as soon as your claim is accepted.

Will a clinical negligence claim affect my benefits?

It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?

A&E negligence compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an A&E negligence injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your A&E negligence claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does an A&E negligence claim take?

The length of time needed to process an accident and emergency claim can vary significantly.

For instance, a straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim might be concluded in 12 to 24 months. However, if the case is contested or there is a serious or complex ongoing injury, it could take a few years. Usually, a medical negligence claim should take 12 to 36 months. See more:

How long will my claim take?

Will I still be able to claim for an A&E negligence after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your A&E negligence claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

Causes of A&E personal injury

Personal injury to patients in Accident and Emergency departments can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Missed fractures and tendon injuries
  • Misdiagnosis of hearts attacks, meningitis and sepsis
  • Failures in the management of treatment for back injuries and head injuries

A&E negligence investigations have found the most frequent causes of A&E patient injury result from:

  • Failure to obtain a patient's full medical history (where feasible)
  • Inadequate patient examination and medical investigation (such as, x-rays, blood tests)
  • Inaccuracies in reporting of test results
  • Failure to refer on to a specialist consultant or department
  • Delays in receiving treatment
  • Injuries sustained while being moved or transported within the A&E department
  • Sending patients home inappropriately early or with inadequate advice (such as, what to do if symptoms continue)

Failures in standards of A&E care are a breach of the legal duty of care owed to patients. A personal injury compensation claim may be made if injury has been sustained by a patient during A&E care or treatment.

A&E department negligence injuries

The impact of injuries caused to A&E patients by delays, errors and accidents within the A&E department can be severe. A&E claim injuries have included:

  • Failure to diagnose the onset of cauda equine syndrome in spinal injury patients, resulting in lower body paralysis and impaired lower body functions
  • Failure to identify and remove foreign bodies in the eye, resulting in total loss of sight

The claimant's solicitor must prove that the claimant's injury was a direct result of the negligence of relevant A&E medical staff, or inadequate A&E procedures.

Making an A&E compensation claim

Your A&E claim must be made within the statutory three year time limit.

For immediately obvious injury, the time limit is three years from the date of the A&E error or accident. For injuries which do not present symptoms immediately, the time limit is three years from the date the claimant has knowledge of the injury.

A&E claim compensation settlements

Your solicitor will assess the settlement value of your claim, based on the severity of your injuries, and any permanent or on-going impairment.

The Court can award personal injury compensation for:

  • Costs of medical treatment
  • Personal pain and suffering
  • Loss of amenity - meaning personal and social adjustments resulting from the injury
  • Loss of earnings, including future earnings
  • Expenses associated with the injury, such as hiring taxis to hospital, or making home alterations to accommodate the injury

In cases of acute injury, such as severe spinal injury, the Court may award an interim payment, prior to the final settlement amount being agreed.

No win, no fee, no risk

No win, no fee removes the risk from making an A&E negligence claim. If your claim is unsuccessful, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.

Our no win, no fee promise

If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making an A&E negligence injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my A&E negligence claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my A&E negligence claim?

If your A&E negligence claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

How do personal injury solicitors get paid?

If your a&e negligence claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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A&E negligence FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert