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Melbourne Medical Negligence Solicitors - Victoria Injury Compensation Lawyers

In most cases healthcare professionals in Victoria treat their patients with care and compassion however there are times when things go wrong at which time you may need to take advice from a Melbourne medical negligence solicitor. If you have suffered personal injury or loss due to erroneous treatment our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors offer legal advice at no cost and without further obligation to use our services. Just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or call the helpline to speak to a Melbourne medical negligence solicitor.

Health care professionals are required by law to take reasonable care when treating their patients. When a health professional fails to deliver proper treatment or when their actions depart from acceptable standards of medical care, a patient may be eligible for compensation.

Our specialist Melbourne medical negligence solicitors are ready to assist patients and their families in all types of medical negligence compensation claims against health care professionals, and private and public hospitals throughout Victoria.

Regardless of the nature of your experience, if you have suffered a life changing injury or the death of a loved one, talk with our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors about your legal options. Our lawyers can advise on all aspects of compensation claims, and can assist you in making an official complaint to the relevant government authority. Representation is also available for Coronial Inquests.

Contact our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors by calling our legal helpline, or by completing our online contact form. Initial consultations are free and confidential. Find out how our expert medical negligence lawyers can help you pursue your rights to compensation.

Our medical negligence solicitors have offices situated in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, and Sydney..Do yourself justice - give us a call.

Medical Negligence

In order to win compensation in a clinical negligence claim it is necessary to show that the healthcare professional owed a duty of care to the patient which will automatically exist in most doctor patient relationships. Thereafter it is necessary for the lawyer to prove that the duty of care was breached and that injury or loss arose directly as a result of that breach. This sounds like an easy set of parameters to satisfy however there are many possible defences to a medical negligence compensation claim which is why it is essential to be represented by an experienced Melbourne medical negligence solicitor.

Types of Claims

Patients injured by a health care provider should seriously consider taking legal action. A “health care provider” can be almost anyone who provides medical care- hospitals, doctors, surgeons, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, midwives, psychologists, paramedics and others.

Examples of medical negligence claims that can be brought against health care providers include:

    Cancer Misdiagnosis

    • Failure to diagnose cancers such as breast cancer, throat cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer.

    Emergency Department Negligence

    • Hospital negligence involving incorrect triaging and misdiagnosis of a condition requiring emergency treatment.
    • Failure to diagnose and timely treat heart attack, intracranial aneurysms, brain hemorrhage, and stroke.
    • A busy emergency department may fail to run blood tests and order radiological scans such as x-rays or CT scan, that are required under expected standards of care. That failure to diagnose could mean an illness will go undetected and untreated.

    Surgical Negligence

    • Sometimes a surgeon will cut into a nearby artery or organ by mistake.
    • Failure to remove surgical instruments and swabs during surgery which can cause ongoing pain for many years up until removal.
    • There have been cases of surgeons operating on the wrong site, for example amputating the wrong limb or removing the wrong breast.

    Obstetric and Gynaecological Negligence

    • Antenatal misdiagnosis and failure to treat pregnancy complications.
    • Ruptured uterus during labour.
    • Child birth cases and complications of labour: mismanaged labour leading to fetal hypoxia, cerebral palsy, erb’s palsy.

    Medication Errors

    • When a patient receives a full dose instead of a timed-release dose, or when 10 mg becomes 100 mg, or when a full-strength medication is given rather than the required diluted mixture.
    • A doctor or pharmacist fails to notice an allergy notification. Such errors can be deadly.

    General Practitioner Negligence

    • Failure to respond to a patient's complaints; failure to consider a patient's family medical history; failure to order necessary tests; misinterpretation of test results; failure to refer to a specialist.
    • Lack of informed consent/failure to warn of material risks.

    Product Liability

    • Medical device errors and faulty products.

    Wrongful Death

    • Death that is the result of a hospital or doctor error, including failure to diagnose a life-threatening condition; death due to anaesthesia negligence and medication errors.

Melbourne Medical Negligence Solicitors

Standard of Care

Medical Negligence claims in Victoria are governed by the Wrongs Act 1958 and the common law.

Section 58 of the Wrongs Act states that in a case involving an allegation of negligence against a person (the defendant) who holds himself or herself out as possessing a particular skill, the standard to be applied by a court in determining whether the defendant acted with due care is to be determined by reference to -

  1. what could reasonably be expected of a person possessing that skill; and
  2. the relevant circumstances at the date of the negligence and not later.

Section 59 states that a professional is not negligent in providing professional service if it is established that the professional acted in a manner that (at the time the service was provided) was widely accepted in Australia by a significant number of respected practitioners in the field (peer professional opinion) as competent professional practice in the circumstances. However, peer professional opinion cannot be relied on for the purposes of this section if the court determines that the opinion is unreasonable. If, a court determines peer professional opinion to be unreasonable, it must specify in writing the reasons for that determination.

If you can prove that there was a breach in the standard of care, and that this breach resulted in foreseeable damage (such as an injury, disability, death), then you could be entitled to an award of compensation for medical negligence.

Compensation Awards

Melbourne medical negligence solicitors divide compensation into two main types which are special damages and general damages. Special damages cover those items that can be calculated with a degree of precision and include wages losses and general expenses whereas general damages cover items that must be assessed including pain and suffering for personal injury. If you are considering making a claim for compensation its important that you first get qualified no nonsense accident claim information and an accurate estimate of damages at an early stage.

If negligence can be proven, the plaintiff is entitled to claim compensation for their injuries, disabilities and loss. The majority of medical negligence claims settle out of court through negotiation or mediation. Where there are facts in dispute or where a settlement figure cannot be agreed to, litigation may be the last resort. Compensation can be claimed for:

  • Loss of income. The Wrongs Act 1958 caps how much can be claimed.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for health care, medication and other aids.
  • Cost of attendant care.
  • Damages for loss of capacity to provide care for others.
  • Non-economic loss (also known as general damages eg for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life). Non-economic loss is currently capped at $371 380. In determining damages for non-economic loss, a court may refer to earlier decisions of that or other courts for the purpose of establishing the appropriate award in the proceedings.

Time Limits

There are time limits to all personal injury compensation claims and in the case of clinical negligence, the most common time limit is three years which means that a claim must be settled or legal proceeding must be issued in a court of law within that period. There are however a number of exceptions which may mean that time does not run against for example the mentally infirm or those who are classified as minors in that they have not attained their eighteenth birthday. There are a number of other exceptions and the court also has a wide, but rarely exercised discretion in these matters. You should always seek legal advice from a qualified solicitor in your own location in regards to matters of limitation.

Strict time limits apply when it comes to lodging a compensation claim. In Victoria an adult has 3 years from the time of injury or medical negligence was (discoverable) to issue legal proceedings. Children have 6 years. Failure to commence legal action within the legal time frame may mean that your right to sue is lost. In exceptional circumstances, a court can extend the time limit, but it really depends on the circumstances of each individual case as to whether an extension will be granted. You should obtain legal advice about the applicable time limit in your case. Call our Melbourne medical negligence lawyers and solicitors for free legal advice as soon as possible. A delay in obtaining legal advice could prejudice your potential compensation claim.

No Win No Fee

One of the most important items that a Melbourne medical negligence solicitor has to consider relates to financing a potential claim. Our lawyers 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.

Melbourne Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors offer a risk free compensation claims service. Once a personal injury solicitor has judged that your claim is likely to succeed, we will send a letter of claim to the person responsible for your injury. This letter is usually dealt with by insurers who may try to settle the claim out of court but most times will simply deny liability. If there is no sensible response to the formal letter of claim then legal proceedings will be issued in a court of law once the protocols are satisfied. Often at this stage the insurers will offer compensation however if it is insufficient we will take your case to court to allow a judge to decide on the appropriate level of damages.

Compensation is intended to make up for the injuries and problems you have sustained. The amount is intended to put you back in the position where you would have been had the injuries not been sustained. Damages can be paid for emotional and physical problems and financial loss.

Simply fill in the contact form on this webpage, email our lawyers offices or ring our helpline number to speak to a medical negligence solicitor - in plain English! We give honest assessments of your potential claim. There is no obligation to use our services having received our 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