The year 2020 will go down in history as a defining time for everyone – a year when our lives stood still. So many people are unable to go to work and we all miss our friends, family and loved ones. Though the UK has been on lockdown as a result of the ravaging pandemic, medical professionals have remained at the frontline, going over and beyond in a risky environment to ensure we remain healthy. However, while they are understandably under increasing pressure, they could act negligently at times, and this can be classed as medical negligence.
Can you possibly hold medical practitioners to account at this time, though, considering this is an outbreak of a new virus? Well, in recent years, the world has experienced a wave of new diseases, including swine flu, bird flu and zika virus; so, comparing how the courts have looked at the doctors’ duty of care in similar outbreaks can help determine if there has been medical negligence in your case.
Imagine this scenario: a patient is rushed into the hospital at about the same time a busy shift is coming to its end for Doctor A. Tired and exhausted, the doctor immediately concludes that any intervention will be futile as the patient is already dying. The patient passes away shortly thereafter.
Maybe the patient’s ailment was treatable. Afterall, basic medical tests weren’t conducted. Maybe the patient would have survived. Failing to conduct tests and make appropriate conclusions on the symptoms was a breach of duty, and the patient’s relatives may be entitled to pursue a clinical negligence claim.
If the patient’s loved ones decide to make a claim for compensation, the courts will approach the issue as they typically too with all medical negligence claims (principle of Pope), by analyzing the doctor’s expected state of knowledge at the time and seeking medical opinion as to whether a doctor of similar profession and knowledge would have acted in the same way.
A Breach of Duty
Once the existence of a duty has been established, it must be proven that the duty was breached. Different factors would be considered in this case, including “the foreseeability of harm” to the patient, the injury suffered, and the connection between the doctor’s conduct and the injury suffered. Whether or not the doctor’s actions are considered negligent will depend on the unique circumstances surrounding the patient’s case.
How Much Time Do I Have to Make a Claim?
If you or your loved one are considering pursuing a clinical negligence claim, it is important that you are aware of the time limit you have to do so. Generally, medical negligence claims are to be made within 3 years from the date of the negligent act. However, certain exceptions apply where the time limit may not begin until a later date. The most common exceptions include:
Date of Knowledge
There are cases when determining the exact date when the actual negligence occurred can be difficult. In this situation, the time limit begins to run from the date when the injured person or his/her loved ones learned that the injury was caused by medical negligence.
A child under the age of 18 cannot bring a claim and would require a ‘Litigation Friend’, who is usually a parent or close relative, to make the claim on their behalf. The time limit does not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 18, allowing the child to bring the claim as an adult. In this case, the time limit would expire on the child’s 21st birthday.
If the injured person lacks the mental capacity to make a medical negligence claim, the then the 3-year time limit does not apply. Where the injured person loses mental capacity to or from the date of the negligent act, the 3-year time limit will only begin when the person regains capacity. However, the person may also never regain capacity, which means that the time limit will never begin and the claim can be made at any time by the person’s Litigation Friend.
If the injured person dies within the 3-year time limit, this period is extended to 3 years from either the date of death or date of knowledge of the deceased’s injury.
Seek Expert Advice from Medical Negligence Solicitors
The NHS does a great job of caring for the health needs of people in the UK, and we appreciate the role that medical professionals in the system are playing in the management of the coronavirus pandemic. However, in the event that a doctor at the NHS fails to provide expected standards of care and this leads to an injury, the injured person can make NHS negligence claims. But these cases are usually complex and would require the support of specialist medical negligence solicitors to succeed.
Medical Negligence Direct Can Help
If you or your loved one have suffered an injury due to medical negligence Liverpool, our friendly solicitors can provide instant, no obligation advice. We realize this is a difficult time in the lives of everyone, but even worse for anyone who has suffered as a result of negligence. Our goal is to help you compassionately provide the support you need at this challenging time, so you can achieve the outcome you deserve.