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14 Medical Accidents

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1. Introduction

2. What is a medical accident?

3. What should I do if I have suffered a medical accident?

4. How do I find out more about what happened to me?

5. What if I want to complain about a professional´s behaviour?

6. When can I claim compensation?
If you have been injured physically or psychologically by a healthcare professional's negligence, you may be able to claim compensation. The injury needs to be serious enough to make it worthwhile paying the costs of making a claim. It is probably not worth taking legal action if your injury:

  • is fairly minor and you recover within a few days or weeks; and
  • has caused you little or no financial loss; for example, if you’ve still been paid despite having time off work

If you are not sure whether to try to claim compensation, get advice from a clinical negligence solicitor - many solicitors offer free initial advice. You can also get free advice from AvMA.

It is important to understand that a clinical negligence action is only about claiming compensation. The courts cannot:

  • discipline a healthcare professional by, for example, stopping a GP from practising;
  • force a hospital to change how it works; or
  • make a doctor apologise.

If compensation is not your main aim, then you should ask for advice about what other action to take. See 'What action can I take?'.

What if my problem was not caused by a doctor?
You can claim compensation for clinical negligence against any healthcare professional or service that hasn’t given you the right care or treatment, if this has injured you. This includes:

  • health visitors;
  • nurses;
  • midwives;
  • physiotherapists;
  • osteopaths;
  • mental health care teams;
  • laboratory services;
  • dentists;
  • medical or dental technicians;
  • opticians; and
  • the ambulance service.

You can claim whether a professional was employed by the NHS or was treating you privately.

7. How do I claim compensation?

8. How do I decide whether to take legal action?

9. What if I can´t afford to pay for a solicitor?

10. What do I have to prove to claim compensation?

11. What can I claim compensation for?

12. What can I do if my treatment was private?

13. What if a relative has died as a result of a medical accident?

14. What if my injury was caused by faulty medical equipment?

15. What if I want to make sure that the same mistake is not repeated?

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

Logo of AVMAThis leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Action Against Medical Accidents.

Leaflet Version: June 2008