| Assessing medical negligence damages
There are many different types of medical negligence cases. Each claim will have a different outcome. One of the first things we do in assessing medical negligence damages (or ‘compensation’) for our clients is to work out how much their case is worth. Your solicitor may use words such as ‘quantum’, ‘heads of loss’, ‘general damages’ and ‘special damages’. These terms can be daunting and if you are unsure what they mean your solicitor should explain them to you.
If you are not clear about the explanations you may miss out on claiming for a sum of money you would otherwise be entitled to.
The general rule in assessing medical negligence damages is that the claimant should be restored to the position they were in had the injury not happened. For this reason, damages are often referred to as compensation.
This is where your solicitor establishes how much a client’s case is worth. This figure includes general damages and special damages.
| General damages
General damages are awarded for injuries that are a direct result of the incident. This may also be referred to as damages for ‘pain, suffering and loss of amenity’.
| Special damages
Special damages are awarded in addition to general damages. Your solicitor may also use the term ‘heads of loss’ – this relates to the different categories that your special damages are split in to.
Some examples of this are:
- Loss of earnings;
- Future loss of earnings;
- Care costs.
The court will not consider anything that is too remote from the damage. In other words, you must be able to show a direct link from the negligent treatment to the loss you have suffered. The court will consider what is reasonable and sensible. If you try to claim for a two week holiday to Disneyland a year after the injury this will be considered too remote. However if you had to take a number of taxis to and from hospital appointments this cost should be included.
There are some restrictions on the amount you can seek to recover in medical negligence damages. As mentioned previously, the loss cannot be too remote. There is also contributory negligence, intervening acts and mitigating circumstances (to name a few) that may limit the amount of damages that you are awarded. Your solicitor should identify these restrictions and advise you appropriately.
It is also briefly worth mentioning what happens with paying the cost of our fees. We usually undertake personal injury matters on a CFA (this is essentially a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement). This is subject to a review of your claim before we confirm that we are prepared to do the work on this basis.
If we undertake your case on a CFA, we will seek to reclaim our costs from the other party. There are no guarantees and your are still liable for any shortfall in our costs that we cannot recover.
Unlike other firms, we do not charge a success fee. We aim to ensure that you receive the full amount of damages.