A Guide to Claiming Private Hospital Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by private hospital negligence we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered private hospital negligence and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Every patient is entitled to expect a reasonable standard of care in the treatment provided to them by healthcare staff, whether that treatment is provided through a private organisation or the NHS. If the standard falls below what is expected, it may be a breach of duty and a claim for medical negligence may be brought.
Do I have a private hospital 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 private hospital 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.
Does a medical negligence claim have to be for a life altering event?
Any medical negligence can have a detrimental effect on a person. A procedure that was intended to be an investment towards an improved health or lifestyle may instead become a source of source of pain, poor health, physical disfigurement, or psychological trauma.
Claims may be for results of surgery or arise from care received in hospitals for various conditions. These may include cancer treatments, child birth, injuries to children, brain or spinal injury. When a patient's referral to a medical specialist or diagnosis is delayed a claim may be brought against the GP.
Even if the procedure was carried out electively , if it goes wrong the claimant may be able to pursue a claim for compensation from the practitioner who carried out the work.
How does claiming against a private practitioner differ?
Medical negligence claims against a private practitioner are similar to those against the NHS, but some key differences may occur.
When a procedure, such as cosmetic surgery, has been sold to an individual the risks and side-effects may not have been fully explained beforehand. The patient therefore may have not given proper consent due to lack of knowledge.
In private practice a patient may enter directly into a contract with the healthcare provider. A certain outcome may be guaranteed as part of the contract. Where the outcome falls below what was guaranteed it may be possible to claim on that basis.
Making a claim
This can sometimes be complicated as there are often a number of different individuals involved in the patient's treatment and care. Private hospitals and clinics may be part of a larger group, and a procedure, which appeared to be through the NHS, may have been provided by a private organisation.
It is essential to identify the individual or organisation against who the claim may be brought in order to proceed.
Be aware that all surgical procedures come with some risk. Wound infections and scarring can occur without any medical negligence having taken place. Similarly, dissatisfaction with the results may be no-one's fault.
If it can be demonstrated that the medical professional was negligent in his care of the claimant and that suffering was caused as a result, then the claimant may be able to pursue a claim for medical negligence.
The amount of money you could claim for your private hospital 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 private hospital 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 private hospital? (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 private hospital 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 private hospital will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your private hospital 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.
Private hospital compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a private hospital 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 private hospital claim could be worth now:
How long does a private hospital negligence claim take?
How long it can take to win compensation for a private hospital negligence can vary significantly.
For instance, a simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. However, if the case is contested or there is a serious or complex ongoing injury, a compensation claim 2 to 5 years. Normally a medical negligence claim will 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 private hospital 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 private hospital 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.
How does no win, no fee work?
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything if your private hospital claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
Our no win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a private hospital claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my private hospital 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 private hospital claim?
If your private hospital 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.
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
Private hospital 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