A Guide to Claiming Missed Cancer Diagnosis Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a missed cancer diagnosis we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a missed cancer diagnosis and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
NHS statistics reveal that every year as many as 100 cancer patients bring claims against the NHS after being wrongly given the all clear by medical professionals.
Missing a vital cancer diagnosis may mean patients later enduring more radical therapies to fight the disease. It may also mean that a patient endures unnecessary pain and suffering, and in some cases, the disease may have reached a point where treatment is no longer effective. Recent analysis by Cancer Research UK estimates that more than 50,000 patients every year may have their survival rate cut because of a missed or late diagnosis of their cancer.
What types of cancer are most commonly missed?
A study by the National Patient Safety Agency revealed gynaecological, skin, urological and breast cancers were those most likely to be commonly associated with a missed diagnosis.
The reasons for missed or late diagnosis vary depending on a range of factors, and some cancers are more difficult to identify. Nevertheless, where a cancer patient's standard of care has fallen below the accepted standard and a diagnosis is missed due to a medical professional's negligence, it may be possible to make a clinical negligence compensation claim.
How can a missed diagnosis of cancer happen?
Early symptoms of cancer are not always obvious; therefore, a patient's GP may fail to recognise the key signs. Where the GP fails to identify a potential cancer risk and does not refer his patient for further investigations, the diagnosis may be missed.
Even where a referral to a specialist has been made a diagnosis may be missed through other errors.
These may include:
- Mixing up tissue samples
- Losing test results
- Misinterpretation of scans
- Failure to act on test results
- Wrongly giving the "all clear"
Do I have a missed cancer diagnosis 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 missed cancer diagnosis 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.
What compensation might I receive?
Compensation payments for missed cancer diagnosis vary widely, depending on the type of cancer and how the late diagnosis affects the individual outcome.
Awards are divided into two categories:
- General damages for the pain and suffering the claimant experienced and for any loss of ability to participate in previously enjoyed activities
- Special damages to reimburse any direct financial losses, such as cost of care and loss of earnings, both now and in the future
The amount of money you could claim for your missed cancer diagnosis 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 missed cancer diagnosis 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 missed cancer diagnosis? (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 missed cancer diagnosis 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 missed cancer diagnosis will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your missed cancer diagnosis 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.
Missed cancer diagnosis compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a missed cancer diagnosis 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 missed cancer diagnosis claim could be worth now:
How long does a missed cancer diagnosis claim take?
How long it can take to process a missed cancer diagnosis claim can vary considerably.
For example, a straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim could be completed in 12 to 24 months. If liability is denied, however, it could take a number of years. Usually, a medical negligence claim should take 12 to 36 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a missed cancer diagnosis 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 missed cancer diagnosis 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.
No win, no fee - the facts
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any fees if your missed cancer diagnosis claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
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 making a missed cancer diagnosis injury compensation claim.
What do I pay if I win my missed cancer diagnosis claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once 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 missed cancer diagnosis claim?
If your missed cancer diagnosis 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.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
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 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
Missed cancer diagnosis 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