Breast Cancer Negligence Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a breast surgery injury, we can help.
If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove the negligence happened. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.
We can help you make a medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article
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.
Do I have an injury 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.
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 injury claim expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
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.
What if the other party denies liability?
If the defendant denies liability, your solicitor will build the strongest possible case in order to prove that the defendant is responsible for your breast cancer negligence. Ultimately the solicitor will issue court proceedings on the defendant. Often this prompts an admission of liability before proceedings begin.
What if I want to make a multi-party or group claim?
A multi-party claim (sometimes referred to as a 'group claim' or a 'class action') brought by a group of people who have sustained the same or similar injuries due to the negligence of the same defendant. How you start a multi-party claim will depend on the circumstances and we recommend you speak to a solicitor for more information.
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.
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness 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 injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special 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 are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for an injury 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 injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Can I claim for prescription costs?
Special damages are awarded for costs or losses incurred as a result of the breast cancer negligence injury. Damages can include loss of earnings, treatment cost and any other 'out-of-pocket' expenses such as prescriptions.
Calculate my injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an 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 injury claim could be worth now:
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?
How else can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.
Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and 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:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis claims, where a GP has failed to recognise the symptoms and failed to promptly refer a patient for investigation
- Surgical negligence claims, where the specialist team has failed to carry out the appropriate investigative tests or has made errors during surgery to assess or remove cancer tissue.
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.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 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 decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
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 an injury 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.
No win, no fee - our guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury 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 injury claim?
If your injury 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.
Is there a penalty if I withdraw?
Under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.
How we can help you
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and 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
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
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.
Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
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.