A Guide to Claiming Breast Cancer Negligence Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a breast surgery injury we can help.

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

Introduction

Around 50,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Survival rates are high at 79%, and that rate is improving all the time thanks to better screening and treatment. However, avoidable errors are still made, in regard to diagnosis, treatment and surgery.

Any patient who feels that she has received substandard medical treatment may be eligible to make a clinical negligence claim, regarding a GP's negligence, private hospital or local NHS Trust.

Doctor discharging patient

Do I have a breast cancer 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 a breast cancer 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 breast cancer negligence?

The amount of money you could claim for your breast cancer 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 breast cancer 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 a breast cancer 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 a breast cancer 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 a breast cancer negligence will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your breast cancer 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.

Will I have to pay tax on my breast cancer negligence compensation?

If you receive financial compensation following a breast cancer negligence injury, specific legislation ensures that you do not have to pay tax on it. This is the case no matter whether the compensation is received as a lump sum or as staggered payments.

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.

Breast cancer negligence compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a breast cancer 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 breast cancer negligence claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a breast surgery claim take?

The length of time needed to settle a breast surgery claim can vary significantly.

For instance, a simple uncontested 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, a compensation claim a few years. Normally a medical negligence claim will take 12 to 36 months. To read more about how long your claim could take, see:

How long will my claim take?

Will I still be able to claim for a breast cancer 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 breast cancer 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.

Types of breast cancer negligence claims

Breast cancer negligence claims typically fall into one of two categories:

Defining breast cancer misdiagnosis

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has laid down clear guidelines for the assessment of certain types of suspicious lumps.

Generally, the following cases should be referred urgently to a specialist for investigation:

  • Where one or more hard, discrete and immovable lumps are identified
  • Patients over the age of 30 with a discrete lump that presents after menopause or persists throughout the menstrual cycle
  • Patients under the age of 30 with a family history of cancer or a lump that exhibits certain cancer-indicative features
  • Patients with eczema on one breast, nipple discharge or other changes to the nipple.

Other breast cancer risk factors include age (women over 50 have a higher risk of developing breast cancer), certain hormonal conditions radiation exposure. GPs are expected to assess the patient's full medical history before making a professional decision about whether to refer the patient for further tests.

Failure to follow NICE guidelines or exercise the appropriate degree of professional skill can indicate a breach of duty on the part of the GP.

What is breast cancer surgical error?

Breast cancer surgical error occurs whenever a specialist fails to diagnose, classify, assess or treat breast cancer with the appropriate degree of skill.

Examples of clinical negligence include:

  • Failing to conduct the necessary investigative tests such as mammograms, ultrasound scans and biopsies
  • Mistakes in interpreting scans and pathology samples
  • Failing to remove all the cancerous cells during surgery, leaving a higher-than-average risk of the cancer recurring
  • Negligently administering chemotherapy drugs
  • Recommending one type of surgery when another type of surgery would produce a better outcome for the patient.

This list is not exhaustive. Any intervention that falls short of expected standards may lay the foundation for a compensation claim.

How do I know if I have a claim?

To make a successful claim, it must be shown that:

  • The standard of care provided by the medical professional fell below the expected standard (negligence); and
  • The claimant suffered illness or injury as a result (causation).

All surgery carries a degree of risk and not every unsuccessful surgery or treatment option will support a claim for compensation. For example, a Court may not award compensation to a patient who was not immediately referred for tests, but whose cancer did not develop to a more advanced stage in the meantime. In this scenario, the delayed diagnosis did not cause injury, as it did not impact the claimant's treatment, prognosis or recovery time.

If, on the other hand, the negligent actions contributed to a worsening of the patient's condition in more than a negligible way, there is a better chance that the claim will succeed. An experienced injury lawyer can advise whether a claim is possible in each case.

No win, no fee, no risk

No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make a breast cancer negligence claim with:

  • no upfront legal fees
  • no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
  • a success fee payable only if your claim is successful

No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.

Our no win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making a breast cancer negligence claim, even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my breast cancer negligence claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after 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 breast cancer negligence claim?

If your breast cancer negligence claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Why do most solicitors charge 25%?

25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. breast cancer negligence claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. In some cases our solicitors can work on a reduced success fee. Call us for more information.

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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Breast cancer 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