Misdiagnosis Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a misdiagnosis, 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
In 2018, the NHS paid out compensation to 1,100 patients or families for medical conditions that were either not identified or detected too late. 679 were misdiagnosed, and around one in ten of those payouts went to patients whose cancer had been misdiagnosed.
Misdiagnosis is the basis of one of the most common types of clinical and medical negligence compensation claim. Three categories of medical misdiagnosis are identified: total misdiagnosis, incorrect diagnosis and late diagnosis.
Claims for total misdiagnosis
Total or missed misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional fails to identify the symptoms of a health condition or illness. Without crucial treatment, the condition may develop to a more advanced stage, impacting the patient's treatment, prognosis and recovery time.
Claiming for an incorrect diagnosis
Incorrect diagnosis occurs when a medical professional wrongly diagnoses an illness or condition, which may cause the patient to undergo an unnecessary medical procedure. For example, a patient wrongly diagnosed with cancer may receive needless chemotherapy or have an organ or tissue removed.
Other problems may arise when patients are given the incorrect diagnosis. If their true condition is allowed to progress unchecked, the patient may require more invasive treatment when the condition is eventually uncovered. Some patients may also experience a severe psychological reaction to the mistaken belief that they have a serious illness.
Claiming for a late diagnosis
Late diagnosis, also known as delayed diagnosis, occurs when opportunities for diagnosis are missed and the medical professional only realises the true nature of an illness or condition when it is at an advanced stage. Mistakes of this kind can increase the pain and discomfort of the patient, prolong the recovery period and in serious cases, reduce the patient's life expectancy.
Why does medical misdiagnosis occur?
Misdiagnosis occurs for a number of reasons, including:
- Healthcare professionals failing to adequately investigate the symptoms of serious illness
- Doctors failing to perform the correct tests
- GP negligence
- The GP having inadequate expertise with a particular type of healthcare condition
- Errors by junior medical staff due to a lack of supervision
- Misinterpretation of test results such as CT scans, MRI scans, X-rays, biopsies, smears and tissue samples.
Compensation awards are calculated by reference to the injuries that are sustained and the impact these injuries have had on a claimant's life, rather than the context or cause of the medical misdiagnosis.
For the purposes of a misdiagnosis claim, however, the reason for the misdiagnosis does matter. It must be shown that the misdiagnosis caused or exacerbated the patient's illness or condition, and that the misdiagnosis itself occurred as a result of the healthcare professional's act or negligence.
Who can make a claim?
Any person who has experienced more pain and suffering than would have been caused by their illness if it had been treated correctly, as a result of a medical professional's misdiagnosis, may be eligible to claim compensation.
Precise time limits are place for making a misdiagnosis compensation claim. A claim must be made within three years of either the date the misdiagnosis occurred, or the date a link is discovered between the misdiagnosis and the patient's injuries or worsening health condition.
Some claimants may experience a significant delay between the time they first see their doctor and the time that the symptoms of the medical misdiagnosis begin to make themselves felt.
Who can you make a misdiagnosis claim against?
Claims are usually brought against a hospital or GP surgery.
For treatment and consultation carried out in an NHS hospital, the defendant is the relevant NHS Trust. In the case of a private consultant, the claim usually is brought against the consultant personally and his or her insurance company.
Is the medical professional liable?
To successfully pursue a claim for medical misdiagnosis, the claimant's solicitor will need to establish breach of duty on the part of the healthcare professional, also known as negligence. Negligence occurs when the standard of care received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent medical professional in the same field.
The claimant's solicitor must also show that the treatment received (or lack of treatment) caused the claimant further injury, pain or suffering. This is known as causation.
While undesirable, not all misdiagnosis claims will result in a payment of compensation. For example, a Court may not award compensation to a patient who received a late diagnosis but whose condition did not get any worse in the intervening period. In this scenario, there is no evidence that an earlier diagnosis would have changed the treatment options or led to a better outcome.
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 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.
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 misdiagnosis claim take?
How long it can take to secure compensation for a misdiagnosis can vary considerably.
A straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim can settle in 12 to 24 months. However, if the case is contested or there is a serious or complex ongoing injury, a claim can take longer. Typically, a medical negligence claim takes 12 to 36 months. For more information, 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.
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.
How does no win, no fee work?
No win, no fee takes the risk out of making an injury claim. If you don't win any compensation, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
No win, no fee promise
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your injury. 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, 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 injury claim?
If your injury 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.
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. misdiagnosis claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.
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.