A Guide to Claiming Cosmetic Surgery Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a cosmetic surgery injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a cosmetic surgery injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
It is estimated that over 100,000 cosmetic surgery procedures will be performed in the UK in 2015. With the number of cosmetic surgery procedures on the increase, it is likely that the number of procedures that result in negative outcomes will also increase.
Like non-elective surgery, cosmetic surgery carries risks. Negative outcomes can occur despite the professionalism and training of the medical staff carrying out a procedure, and it can be difficult to make a claim in such circumstances. However, if something goes wrong as a result of an error or other negligence it is likely that a medical negligence claim can be made.
Cosmetic surgery is not as heavily regulated as many other medical and healthcare-related disciplines. Procedures are in some cases performed by untrained or inexperienced staff, and in environments that are not equipped to treat complications should they arise.
Do I have a cosmetic surgery 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 a cosmetic surgery 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.
The amount of money you could claim for your cosmetic surgery 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 cosmetic surgery 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 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 a cosmetic surgery? (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 a cosmetic surgery 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 cosmetic surgery will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your cosmetic surgery 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 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?
Cosmetic surgery compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a cosmetic surgery 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 cosmetic surgery claim could be worth now:
How long does a cosmetic surgery claim take?
How long it can take to secure compensation for a cosmetic surgery can vary considerably.
For example, a straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim might be concluded in 12 to 24 months. However, if court proceedings are necessary it could take a few years. Usually, a medical negligence claim should take 12 to 36 months. Read more:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a cosmetic surgery 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 cosmetic surgery 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.
The causes of cosmetic surgery negligence
In order to make a cosmetic surgery compensation claim, the claimant must prove that the cosmetic surgeon or the cosmetic practice were negligent. All medical practitioners have a ‘duty of care' to their patients. Practitioners must take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and well being of the patients in their care. Failure to do so may amount to negligence.
Negligence in cosmetic surgery procedures can include:
This could be a mistake made in the surgery that resulted in physical injury such as nerve damage, or a mistake that meant the surgery produced poor results. Being dissatisfied with the outcome of surgery may not in itself be grounds for a claim, but if an independent medical expert agrees that the results fall below a reasonable standard, it may be possible to make a claim.
Failure to advise
Practitioners are required to give the patient the necessary information to make an informed decision prior to the procedure taking place.
If the practitioner fails to do so, there may be grounds for a compensation claim. Failure to advise could include a failure to warn patients of potential side-effects, or failing to adequately warn the patient of the potential risks associated with the procedure.
Common cosmetic surgery procedure claims
Compensation claims have been made in numerous cases of negligent cosmetic surgery. An increasingly wide range of procedures are identified as 'cosmetic surgery', including:
- Breast augmentation
- Botox injections
- Tummy tucks
- Hair replacement
- Laser surgery
- Skin resurfacing
- Blepharoplasty (surgery of the eyelids)
In the case of newer and rarer forms of cosmetic surgery, it may still be possible to make a claim. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise you on your options.
What can I claim compensation for?
If it can be proved that the medical practitioner or the cosmetic practice have been negligent when treating you, you may be able to make a compensation claim for the following:
The Courts recognise that the physical impact of negligent cosmetic surgery can be significant. Awards for scarring to the face and other visible parts of the body are frequently higher as a result. Claims are often made for injuries such as nerve damage, scarring and secondary infection arising from inadequate health and safety procedures.
Compensation awards also reflect the fact that the psychological impact of poor cosmetic surgery can be significant, affecting a person's confidence, self-esteem and mental health.
Cost of corrective procedures and other medical expenses
As with other injury claims, treatment costs can also be factored into the calculation of a cosmetic surgery claim. The cost of corrective surgery, where possible, should be included the agreed settlement or award.
How does no win, no fee work?
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees if your cosmetic surgery claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also called a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
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 claiming compensation for your cosmetic surgery injury.
What do I pay if I win my cosmetic surgery 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%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my cosmetic surgery claim?
If your cosmetic surgery claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in medical negligence cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
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:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Cosmetic surgery 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.
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.
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.
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.
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