In simple terms, a case of medical negligence can be brought forward in the event of someone suffering either emotionally or physically due to the malpractice of a medical practitioner. It is important to note that cases of medical negligence are extremely complex and often difficult to prove, and for this reason, jurisdiction will be refused by the Irish Injuries Board on all medical negligence claims. Therefore the injuries board does not review a case of negligence in the same way they deal with personal injuries claims and the only way to move a medical negligence claim forward is through your solicitor.
How do you take a medical negligence case forward in Ireland?
In order to take a medical negligence case forward, the law requires that you must prove “on the balance of probability” that the medical practitioner(s) in question acted in a way that was negligent, as well as showing that said malpractice or neglect contributed or led directly to your injury. This also includes proving that “at the time and in the circumstances”, the healthcare practitioner in question could have, and should have, chosen an alternative action to the one that led to your injury.
This means that if it is proven that the accused medical practitioner made a choice that, at the time of making their decision, was the most appropriate and competent decision to make, the case will fail – even if their decision led to a patient’s injury. It is also important to note that it is the injury that is being compensated, not the medical negligence. This means that medical negligence that doesn’t actually lead to any form of injury is not liable to be included in a medical negligence claim.
How do I know if I can make a medical negligence claim?
The injury of the plaintiff, be it physical or psychological, must be shown to clearly be a direct consequence of the medical negligence that has occurred. If the injury can be said to be pre-existing, or caused by a previous event, there is no case for medical negligence.
Such incidents of negligence include, but are not limited to, error or delay in the diagnosis of an illness or injury, failure to act on test results, error in the performance of a procedure or operation, error in administering treatment or medication, and inadequate follow-up care. The list of medical professionals who could be liable to a medical negligence case is wide and includes doctors, physiotherapists, opticians, midwives, nursing home staff, Accident and Emergency staff, dentists, nurses, radiologists, pharmacists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and surgeons of any kind.
When should I contact a solicitor?
It is important that a solicitor is contacted as soon as the injury to the plaintiff is detected, as the majority of cases are given exactly two years after the “date of knowledge” to be brought forward. The date of knowledge is for the most part taken to be the date the injury was sustained, thus making it vital to begin the claim within the two-year time period. Some exceptions are made, however, when the date of knowledge is difficult to clarify, most commonly in cases where an illness has occurred that went unchecked due to misdiagnosis.
In order to determine the value of your claim, there are many factors that must be assessed. These factors include the cost of any treatment required after the injury, the type of injury you sustained, whether you suffered from reduced quality of life, whether you lost income as a result, and any long term effects of the injury.
If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence in Ireland, contact our solicitor to see if you can make a claim.