A guide to making a No Win No Fee laser eye surgery negligence claim
The number of people seeking laser eye surgery has grown significantly in recent years. It is estimated that around 120,000 Britons have the procedure each year to correct long and short-sightedness.
The number of people receiving poor treatment has risen broadly in line with the number of procedures. According to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, almost one in 20 patients undergoing laser eye surgery suffer some sort of complication. For some clinics, the complication rate is as high as 40%.
What is laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery permanently corrects certain vision problems, removing the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. The most popular type is known as LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis). This procedure uses a laser to reshape the cornea (the transparent covering over the front of the eye). Treatment is considered non-essential and is not usually available on the NHS.
Other treatments are also available including LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusi) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy).
Private laser eye surgery does not have to be done by an ophthalmic surgeon or even someone with specialist laser refraction knowledge. Instead, all that is required is that the person performing the procedure is registered as a medical doctor.
What are the risks of laser eye surgery?
The majority of people who undergo laser eye surgery experience no complications other than minimal discomfort in the months following the operation.
In around 5% of cases, the safety and effectiveness of the laser eye surgery is compromised. Patients may develop complications or unacceptable outcomes including:
- damage to tear ducts causing painfully dry eyes
- ghosting or double vision
- sensitivity to glare
- chronic eye inflammation
- scarring of the cornea
- poor night vision
- partial or complete blindness.
How Quittance help people following laser eye surgery negligence
Every year Quittance's network of solicitors help people who have suffered complications as a result of laser eye surgery seek financial compensation and, where possible, corrective treatment.
Our network of expert medical negligence solicitors have advised clients who have suffered damage or disability as a result of:
- surgical error
- the suitability of the surgery not being fully determined before the procedure
- inaccurate information about the potential risks of the surgery
- defective laser equipment
- poor standard of post-operative care.
Quittance's solicitors take care of the negotiations and fight hard to ensure that clients achieve maximum compensation awards for laser eye surgery negligence claims.
Who can make a claim?
If a patient was injured in the last three years as a result of laser eye surgery, he or she may be eligible to claim compensation.
To win a claim, the patient's solicitor will need to establish negligence. This is a complex area of litigation. Often, the case turns on whether the complications would not reasonably have occurred if the same laser surgery was performed by a different medical professional. The Claimant's solicitor will need to show that the laser treatment received fell below acceptable standards.
The Claimant's solicitor will also need to evidence that the treatment and not the underlying eye condition has caused the harm or injury for which compensation is sought.
It may be possible to claim for existing eyesight problems or conditions that have worsened as a result of the laser eye surgery. Read more about making a claim for an existing condition.
Who can you make a claim against?
Claims are brought against the medical professional who performed the laser eye surgery or their employer. In the injuries were caused by defective equipment, a Claim may be brought against the manufacturer.
In each case, it is usually the Defendant's insurance company who would pay compensation.
How much can you claim for negligent laser eye surgery?
The severity of the injuries arising from laser eye surgery negligence can vary significantly as can the level of financial loss. It is therefore misleading to talk about laser eye surgery compensation awards in terms of average payouts.
Compensation awards are made up of two types of damages. "General damages" compensate patients for the pain and suffering caused by their injuries. Awards for general damages are established by the Judicial College who publish compensation guidelines that are widely referred to by most solicitors and insurance companies.
These guidelines refer to the nature and severity of an injury and are set out in the form of minimum and maximum amounts for the various different types of eye injury. Read more about Judicial College awards for personal injury compensation.
"Special damages" cover the actual financial losses incurred as a result of the negligent laser eye surgery, including:
- loss of earnings during the recovery period and in the future
- the cost of medical treatment and care
- any other costs or expenses resulting from the surgery, such as travel expenses to and from hospital.
If damage to the eyesight is so severe that a Claimant is unable to continue working, special damages could include compensation for loss of earnings up to the age of retirement.
How soon after an accident must a laser eye surgery negligence claim be made?
Anyone injured after receiving laser eye surgery in the last three years may be entitled to claim for personal injury compensation.
If, after three years, the parties have not reached an out-of-Court settlement or Court proceedings have not started, the Claimant can no longer bring a legal action through the Courts to settle their claim.
Many Claimants are relieved to learn that the majority of laser eye surgery negligence claims are settled out of Court. Claimants are advised to start their claim as early as possible as this gives the solicitor more time to negotiate a better settlement amount from the Defendant.
What can be done to maximise the chances of a successful claim?
There are a number of things that can be done to help support a laser eye surgery negligence claim.
The Claimant will first need to procure all copies of their medical and optician records and give them to their solicitor, who will study them in detail. The solicitor will then instruct a qualified ophthalmic expert to examine the medical records thoroughly and establish whether the laser eye surgery was negligent in any way and whether it caused the injury for which compensation is sought.
Claimants are advised to make a note of the conversations they had with the clinic staff, both in the time leading up to the surgery and during the post-operative recovery period. In particular, the Claimant should record any warnings given about the suitability and potential risks of the surgery.
The Claimant must also submit to a medical examination. This allows an independent eye expert to arrive at a correct evaluation of the compensation according to the nature and extent of the injuries.
How to proceed
Before you choose your lawyer you should arm yourself with information. The right answers help you to make the right decision for you.
Get more information before picking up the phone. Read more frequently asked questions here.
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Get your personal injury claim started
Phone a specialist solicitor on 0800 612 7456 to make your compensation claim, or begin the claim online here.
Contact a solicitor
Talk to a member of the Quittance network of specialists for more detail about you claim. Call 0800 612 7456 or book a callback.