Canberra Medical Negligence Solicitors - Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers
Most healthcare professionals in ACT provide an outstanding service to their patients however there are times when things go wrong which is when you will need the services of a Canberra medical negligence solicitor. The Canberra Hospital does not have the best of reputations and there have been several serious incidents of alleged medical negligence due to 'catastrophic' or 'major' error where the medical authority has not subsequently supplied full information to lawyers leaving them open to criticism on the basis of lack of transparency. The corporate body involved in these incidents is ACT Health which has been criticised in the past for failure to provide information although they have historically, eventually provided information following a formal lawyers request. In most cases where there is a trial, full information does enter the public domain however in regards to cases that are settled before trial it is often difficult to get to the root of the allegations. The Canberra hospital is however not alone in facing these difficulties which appear to be endemic across Australia. As well as hospital errors most other healthcare professionals including doctors, dental surgeons, nurses and technicians are often subject to allegations of error by Canberra medical negligence solicitors. The Canberra Times carried out a national investigation and found that the amounts paid out as compensation in medical negligence compensation claims had increased massively in just a few years. Millions of dollars are now paid out every year in settlements for erroneous action causing death or personal injury to patients which is funded by the taxpayer.
Has your physical and/or emotional health been marred by poor medical treatment? Our expert medical negligence solicitors are based in Canberra, and provide legal assistance to victims of medical negligence throughout the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T). If you have suffered from poor hospital or medical treatment, you should consider talking to one of our Canberra medical negligence lawyers about taking legal action for compensation.
Insurance companies often vigorously defend medical negligence claims against healthcare providers such as hospitals, doctors, surgeons, dentists, nurses, midwives, optometrists, psychologists, and chiropractors. Victims of medical negligence should make sure that they obtain the best legal advice and representation possible from a lawyer who specialises in representing patients and their families. Our medical negligence solicitors are passionate advocates for patients’ rights, and will ensure that all legal avenues are pursued in an efficient and professional manner.
Call our legal helpline for free legal advice from a specialist medical negligence solicitor. Alternatively, complete the online contact form or send an email, and a lawyer will be in touch as soon as possible.
Canberra Medical Negligence Solicitors
Our Canberra medical negligence solicitors have a national reputation and operate in most states in Australia. They will give you advice at no cost on the telephone and if your potential case has merit they will offer to proceed with the medical negligence compensation claim using the no win no fee scheme. If you would like advice at no cost and with no further obligation just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices.
Our medical negligence solicitors have offices situated in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, and Sydney.
Do yourself justice - give us a call.
We always take privacy seriously and are confidential in all that we do. Your personal details are not given out to other companies, nor will you find yourself receiving unsolicited materials.
No Win No Fee
Pursuing a personal injury compensation claim should never be foregone due to fears about legal costs. Since the advent of the no win no fee scheme victims who suffer personal injury at the hands of another have been able to take legal action for compensation without risk.
No win no fee agreements which are technically known as conditional fee agreements (CFA). Under the scheme a solicitor will only receive payment for legal fees if the case he represents is successful. Our Canberra medical negligence solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client.
If a no win no fee claim is unsuccessful then the solicitor will have no right to a legal fee from either the client or from the other side. The legal expenses paid by the solicitor will be written off by the solicitor who will not recoup then from his client. There is a huge advantage to the claimant on such a scheme, if they are successful in their claim, they keep all of the compensation and if they are unsuccessful they pay no legal fee and no expenses.
If a claimant takes advantage of a CFA then claim is dealt with in exactly the same way as if the client was paying privately. The only person taking a financial risk is the Canberra medical negligence solicitor whose interest is to ensure that the case is properly prepared for trial if necessary.
The amount of compensation that can be awarded depends on the circumstances of the case.
The Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 (ACT) sets out various thresholds and caps on damages which can be awarded. It allows compensation to be awarded for:
- Loss of Wages. Loss of wages is capped at three times the Average Weekly Earnings published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- Non-economic loss. This is compensation for pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life, loss of expectation of life, and disfigurement.
- Damages for any resulting impairment or loss of the injured person's capacity to perform domestic services that the injured person might reasonably have been expected to perform for his or her household if the injured person had not been injured.
A claim can also be made for any out-of-pocket expenses arising from the injury- eg the cost of doctor’s consultations and hospital admissions; medication; healthcare equipment and aids.
Judges dealing with personal injury compensation claims in the civil courts have two main duties which involve answering the question of who is to
blame and if appropriate how much compensation should to be awarded.
It's a tough job being a Judge deciding how much to award in personal injury compensation claims. In reality no monetary award can ever compensate properly for injury. The real solution to the problem of measuring damages lies in considering previous cases in which similar injuries occurred and how much was awarded in that case. These
cases can act as vital guidelines for a Judge.
Compensation is divided into two main categories being those where items of loss can be calculated accurately known as 'special damages' and those that require assessment and are known as 'general damages'. Damages that can be recovered in accident compensation claims may include :-
- pain and suffering
- loss of wages
- loss of other job opportunities
- loss of a congenial job
- disadvantage on the labour market
- reducing of the enjoyment of leisure time
- loss of lifestyle
- out of pocket expenses
- expenses for care
- property damage
- insurance excess
- replacement vehicle hire
- diminution in value of a repaired vehicle
- interest on losses
General damages represents compensation that can be calculated accurately and is usually proved by documentary evidence including receipts or estimates for the specific items of loss. Special damages represents compensation that requires a degree of assessment. In making these assessments in accident compensation claims, judges will rely on evidence obtained from experts or specialists and in assessing damages for personal injury will rely on their own previous experience, on previously decided cases and on official guidelines.
Medical Negligence Claims
The law recognises that when a patient is injured as a result of negligent treatment, misdiagnosis, or incorrect medical advice, that patient has the right to pursue compensation. Our lawyers have handled many complex medical negligence claims involving poor hospital treatment, surgical errors, and negligence by general practitioners, medical specialists and allied health care providers. Examples of medical negligence claims include:
- Missed diagnosis of a medical condition: For example, misdiagnosis of cancer means that treatment is delayed. If the cancer is diagnosed later, it may be too late as they cancer may have already spread.
- Errors in hospital emergency departments: For example, symptoms of a heart attack or stroke are misdiagnosed resulting in a delay in necessary care. A patient is often sent home without proper treatment, resulting in death or permanent disability.
- Mismanaged pregnancy: Failure to treat medical conditions in the mother such as high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy.
- Complications of labour: Negligent administration of labor-inducing medication, such as syntocinon, can result in a ruptured uterus that can result in catastrophic or fatal injuries to the mother and baby. Another example is failure to treat infections from c-sections.
- Birth injury: lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain resulting in brain damage, cerebral palsy. Doctors and midwives should keep a close eye on the foetus's health and position throughout the birth process.
- paediatric negligence: failure by doctors to institute timely treatment of elevated bilirubin levels, resulting in brain damage. Another example is a failure to diagnose meningitis.
- Infections: failure to properly treat infections, resulting in amputation of limbs or death.
- Surgical negligence: swabs left inside patients can become infected and cause ongoing pain until removed. Another type of surgical error is when the wrong body part is operated on.
- Errors with medication: incorrect medication prescribed by doctor. Some medications have similar names and can be confused.
- Misread x-ray, slides, and ultrasounds.
- Failure to order hospital admission when warranted.
- Failure to warn of material risks which eventuate.
- Wrongful death.
- Nervous shock.
Investigating a claim
A Canberra medical negligence solicitor will speak with the client, initially over the phone and sometimes in person (for example hospital visits), to hear the client’s version of events. A preliminary assessment is made by the lawyer as to whether a claim could be made under the law, and therefore whether it is worth proceeding to an investigation.
An investigation usually involves obtaining copies of medical records, hospital records, treatment reports and a statement from the patient. After these documents are reviewed by the medical negligence lawyer, a decision is then made as to whether to obtain an independent expert’s report from a health care practitioner in the same field of practice as the defendant. A medical expert will review the brief of evidence and provide an opinion on matters such as the applicable “standard of care”, breaches in the “duty of care”, and “causation of damage”.
The Canberra medical negligence solicitor will then review the medical expert’s report together with all other available evidence and advise the client as to whether a medical negligence claim is likely to succeed. As you can see, it takes to time to investigate and build a case. It is important that a thorough assessment is made as to the likely prospects of success in the claim.
Our Canberra medical negligence solicitors will advise you along every step of the way, and will fully inform you of the strengths and weaknesses in your case and the options available to you. They will tell you if you should drop your case, continue with your case, settle out of court or proceed to trial.
Medical Negligence Law
A medical negligence solicitor will usually advise that legal action for compensation should be taken if there is sufficient evidence, on the balance of probabilities, that:
- There was a breach in the standard of care by the health care practitioner; AND
- The breach in standard of care resulted in “damage”. This is known as “causation”; AND
- “Damage” has been suffered (such as an injury, disability or loss) that is recognisable and quantifiable at law.
In the ACT the standard of care that applies to health care professionals can be found in the common law. It was held in Rogers v Whitaker, that:
“the standard of care to be observed by a person with some special skill or competence is that of the ordinary skilled person exercising and professing to have that special skill... while the evidence of acceptable medical practice is a useful guide for the courts, it is for the courts to adjudicate on what is the appropriate standard of care…”.
If a breach in standard of care and causation are proven, an assessment is then made as to the value of the claim.
Certain injuries take a long time to settle down and during this time you can suffer considerable financial expenses and losses. The law is in place in these situations to protect your hard earned money. If someone else was responsible for causing you injury then it is important to act immediately and take advice on accident compensation claims. Time is of the essence in these cases and you risk losing the right to claim if you do not act promptly. There is a general three year rule subject to some exceptions - you should take legal advice.
Very strict limitation periods for notification and commencement of legal proceedings are applicable. Generally, a person has 3 years from the date of the injury to commence legal action. Where the injury is a disease or disorder, they have 3 years from the day before they first became aware that their disease or disorder is related to someone else’s negligence. Special rules apply to children.
Only in extreme circumstances will the court allow an extension of time to commence legal action. Therefore it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you are uncertain as to whether the time limit has run out in your situation, you should speak with a solicitor straight away.
Canberra Medical Negligence Solicitors
There is no doubt that the right Canberra medical negligence solicitor can make a difference in the outcome of your claim. Our medical negligence solicitors are experts in their field. They operate on a No Win No Fee basis, which means that they do not get paid their professional costs unless they succeed in obtaining compensation for you. They are therefore only interested in representing claimants that have reasonable prospects of succeeding in their claim.
It is important to consult a Canberra medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible, to learn your legal rights and options and begin taking action to hold the doctor or other health care professionals accountable for their negligent actions. Call our helpline, or complete the Contact Form to receive confidential and free legal advice.
HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here