A Guide to Claiming Hospital Neglect Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by hospital negligence and neglect we can help.

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

Introduction

A report by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) showed that the NHS paid out £840,751,934 in damages for clinical negligence claims during 2013/14. This figure highlights the reality of poor care in some departments of some hospitals.

Hospital negligence and neglect refer to errors occurring within a hospital that have resulted in patient suffering or further injury.

These forms of negligence can occur across all hospital departments, from A&E to surgery and from X-ray to other outpatient services.

According to a report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIS), the total number of written complaints for NHS hospitals (including community and family services) exceeded 175,000 for 2103/14.

The service area with the highest number of complaints was ‘inpatient hospital acute services' with 34,400 complaints.

Common hospital negligence claims

Some of the most common examples of hospital negligence and neglect which result in claims include:

  • Surgical errors, including after-surgery care
  • Hospital acquired illnesses and infections (such as MRSA)
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to adequately test, diagnose and treat
  • Failure to sufficiently check and monitor, leading to problems such as pressure sores, malnutrition or dehydration
  • Incorrect medication or treatment given
  • Administrative errors

The NHS regard many categories of injury-causing hospital errors as 'never events'. Not only can these errors lead to worsening of current illness or injury, they can lead to serious health complications and psychological distress.

Do I have a hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect?

The amount of money you could claim for your hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect? (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 hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your hospital neglect 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.

Hospital neglect compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a hospital negligence and neglect claim take?

The length of time needed to win compensation for hospital negligence can vary considerably.

For example, a simple uncontested medical negligence claim might be concluded in 12 to 24 months. If liability is denied, however, a compensation claim a few years. Normally a medical negligence claim will take 12 to 36 months. For more information, see:

How long will my claim take?

Will I still be able to claim for a hospital neglect 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 hospital neglect 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.

What is the claims process for hospital negligence?

When a person suffers as a result of hospital negligence, contacting the hospital to raise a grievance is usually the first step; a specialist solicitor will confirm with you how to proceed.

The NHS has its own complaints procedure through which patients dissatisfied with their level of care can report their concerns.

Once reported, the NHS acknowledges a person's right to have a complaint properly investigated, to ask for an independent review and to receive compensation if harmed.

The NHS Litigation Authority deal with claims out of Court and pay out for claims relating to public hospitals. Private hospitals will have their own processes and insurance.

Your right to take your claim to Court is, in most cases, not affected by following the hospital's own process first. Your solicitor will be able to advise on this point further.

No win, no fee, no risk

'No win, no fee' means that if you do not win your hospital neglect claim, you will not have to pay your solicitor any money. Known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA', no win, no fee is a legal contract entered into between you and a solicitor.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

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 hospital neglect injury.

What do I pay if I win my hospital neglect claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. 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 hospital neglect claim?

If your hospital neglect 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.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

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. hospital neglect 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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Hospital neglect 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