Can I Claim Medical Negligence Compensation If The NHS Is Still Treating Me?15th Feb 2017
You can still claim compensation in this situation. You can still claim damages from a GP or hospital while undergoing treatment.
But there are other considerations.
Can I Change Doctor? Or Change Hospital?
No-one wants to be treated by a doctor who’s just made a mistake. They don’t feel safe.
Many patients who’ve suffered medical negligence but still need ongoing treatment will change GP or hospital:
- Changing GP – if you’re unhappy with your GP for any reason we would always recommend changing to another.
- Changing hospital – this is not quite such an easy choice to make. Perhaps your local hospital is a specialist centre. Or perhaps you’ll have to travel much further for your treatment. But you can still change.
If you choose to continue treatment at the hospital you’re suing, you’ll probably be treated by a different department and almost certainly by a different consultant.
Let me give you an example…
Perhaps your problem was caused by an overworked A&E department that failed to spot something. Or perhaps they made the wrong diagnosis.
You will be assigned to a different specialist department to treat your condition. So you may be treated in the same hospital but by a different team of doctors.
They’re respected professional clinicians. They shouldn’t treat you any less well because you’re taking legal action against their colleagues in another department.
If anything, you’re more likely to get better treatment because they don’t want to repeat the original error or make it worse!
It’s in everybody’s interests that you make a speedy recovery after the original mistake.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also keeps down the cost of the damages the hospital will have to pay you.
Should I Go Private If the NHS Has Made A Mistake?
It’s the obvious option but one that needs careful consideration.
- Will the cost of any compensation you receive cover the full cost of treatment in a private hospital? Payouts can be large…but so can private medical bills.
- How long will it take to settle your claim? You may need treatment and care right now!
- Will you end up being treated by the same NHS consultants, even though you’re in a private ward?
All these questions should be weighed up in consultation with your family and your solicitor.
In some cases, it’s possible to get an interim compensation payout if the defendant GP or hospital accepts liability early on.
This early initial payout enables you to get treated more quickly so you make a better recovery.
How Soon Can I Claim? How Long Can I Leave It?
We recommend you claim as soon you can after the original medical error – while your memory is still fresh.
There’s a three-year time limit for medical negligence and other personal injury compensation claims.
Essentially that’s three years from the moment you first spotted a problem and could point to someone at fault.
In some cases the time limit is even longer…
If you’re aged under 18, the three-year time limit starts at your 18th birthday – giving you more time to claim. For people lacking mental capacity (whatever their age) there’s no time limit.
And even if you don’t fit into these categories, the courts still have the discretion to allow claims beyond the three-year limit.
A typical example would be when someone was told by the NHS that they had no grounds to claim – but then later discovered they did.
Contact Coles Miller Solicitors
Thinking of claiming compensation for medical negligence? Get expert advice from Coles Miller Partner David Simpson, Head of our Clinical Negligence Department, 01202 355695.