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Surgical Negligence Claims

When you have surgery, the surgeons, nurses and other clinical staff handling your procedure owe you a duty of care. While there is always an element of risk with any surgical procedure, you should expect the highest standard of care possible to help minimise those risks. Unfortunately, mistakes do sometimes happen and this can leave patients with long-term consequences for their health, wellbeing and ability to lead a normal life.

Surgical negligence can come in a number of forms, including the wrong operation being performed, foreign objects being left in the body, or the wrong dosage of anaesthetic being given. These types of errors can not only have a lasting physical impact on the patient, but a mental impact too.

If you or a loved one have been harmed due to surgical errors, you may find yourself facing expensive medical and personal care bills, unable to work and living with a lot of pain, as well as other issues affecting your life and wellbeing. In such cases, claiming compensation is often the only way to get the support you need to put things right.

Seeking legal advice can be a little overwhelming, but every claim matters, big or small. Our team take a ‘people first’ approach, providing clear legal advice in plain English, as well as sensitive personal support at what we know can be a very difficult time.

Our Clinical Negligence team have successfully claimed compensation for surgical negligence for a wide range of clients over the years, achieving recognition from leading independent bodies, including the prestigious Chambers & Partners client guide.

So, if you think you may be entitled to compensation for any errors in surgery, we can help.

Speak to our surgical negligence solicitors about starting a claim

Has your health been harmed due to surgical errors in the last three years? You can find out more about starting a surgical negligence claim by contacting our friendly, expert team today.

Our expertise with surgical negligence compensation claims

Clarkson Wright & Jakes’ Clinical Negligence team are highly experienced in all types of surgical negligence claims.

Our Surgical Negligence team is led by CWJ Partner David Greenhalgh, who has over a decade’s experience working with surgical negligence claims. David is ranked band 2 by Chambers & Partners for Clinical Negligence and is a member of the Law Society’s Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence panels and Action against Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA).

CWJ Partner, Alex Wormald has significant experience handling surgical negligence claims, including high value and complex claims. Having originally qualified as a barrister and then cross-qualifying as a solicitor, Alex is highly skilled with court-based litigation, as well as achieving out-of-court settlements.

Alex is also an active player with Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA), which is the largest medical negligence charity in the UK.

Clarkson Wright and Jakes is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), providing assurance that we continue to meet the highest standards of legal practice.

Surgical negligence compensation claims explained

What counts as surgical negligence?

It is important to understand that not all complications from surgery will necessarily be considered negligent (and therefore eligible for a compensation claim). In order to be able to claim surgical negligence compensation, we will need to show that:

  • You were owed a duty of care by the person performing the procedure
  • That duty of care was breached by the type of errors made
  • Those errors have left you with lasting physical or mental harm

In essence, we must show that the same errors would not have been made by competent medical professionals.

Typical examples of surgical negligence include:

  • The wrong surgery being performed
  • Avoidable damage to nerves, organs or surrounding tissue
  • Foreign objects left in patients
  • Post-surgery infections
  • Anaesthetic negligence
  • Lack of informed consent to surgery

Do I have a claim for surgical negligence compensation?

When investigating the possibility of a claim, identifying whether you are entitled to compensation is the first step. We will do this through looking over the relevant evidence, including witness testimony, medical records and assessments.

Using our expertise, we can provide a realistic assessment of whether your claim is likely to result in compensation at the outset. However, it will only be after we have gathered and reviewed the relevant evidence that we will be able to establish whether your claim is truly likely to succeed.

How much compensation can I get for surgical errors?

Once we have established that you are entitled to compensation, we will then need to figure out how much compensation you should be able to claim. This is called an ‘assessing quantum’ or ‘assessing quantum of damages’.

When it comes to claiming for surgical errors, there are two types of damages to which you may be entitled:

Special damages – For any financial losses you have incurred (such as paying for medical treatment, counselling and personal care, lost income etc.) or expect to incur in future (e.g. ongoing care costs, reduced earning potential etc.).

General damages – For non-financial losses, such as your pain and suffering, and any impact on your lifestyle (such as being unable to get involved in activities you could easily do before the surgery).

How are surgical negligence claims resolved?

There are two main routes to resolve a surgical negligence claim:

Out-of-court settlements for surgical errors – We will normally start with attempting to come to a settlement with the NHS trust or private healthcare provider that carried out your surgery. This can be done through negotiation, as well as other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This approach can help you to claim faster and avoid potentially stressful legal court proceedings along the way.

Taking your surgical negligence claim to court – If a fair settlement cannot be agreed out-of-court, it may be necessary to initiate court proceedings. Should this be the case, you can rest assured you will be supported during every stage of the court process, with the best available representation and close personal support every step of the way.

Funding for surgical negligence claims

There are various options for funding a surgical negligence compensation claim, including:

Conditional Fee Arrangements (CFA) –Also known as a ‘no win no fee’ agreement, this is the most common option for funding surgical negligence claims. There are no up-front legal costs and will only need to cover our legal fees if we win compensation for you, so there is no financial risk to you in pursuing a ‘no win, no fee’ surgical negligence claim.

Legal expenses insurance – This type of cover is sometimes offered with home insurance and car insurance policies. If you have legal expenses insurance, it may cover some of all of the legal costs associated with your surgical negligence claim.

If your claim is successful, some or all of your legal costs may be covered by the defendant, reducing or potentially eliminating entirely any cost to you.

Time limits to claim compensation for surgical errors

You normally have 3 years from the date when the surgical errors occurred to claim compensation. However, there are exceptions to this rule that may give you longer to claim, including:

If you only find out about the negligence later – The 3-year time limit will be counted from this point (known as the ‘date of knowledge’) instead.

If the claimant is under 18 – The parents or guardians of the claimant can pursue legal action up until their 18th birthday. After they turn 18, the claimant can pursue a claim themselves up until they turn 21 if required.

If the claimant lacks mental capacity – There is no time limit for someone else to claim on the injured party’s behalf.

Looking for more answers about claiming surgical negligence compensation?

If you still have any unanswered questions about your surgical negligence claim, head over to our FAQs page or feel free to get in touch.

Speak to our surgical negligence solicitors in Orpington today

If you or a loved one have suffered harm to your health from surgical errors in the last three years and you would like to find out more about starting a claim, you can: