Perth Medical Negligence Solicitors
Our Perth medical negligence solicitors have many years experience in representing patients throughout Western Australia injured by poor medical treatment, misdiagnosis and medical misconduct. Patients are entitled to quality health care. Doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care professionals have a duty to take reasonable care for the safety and wellbeing of their patients. A patient that is harmed by medical error or incompetence may be entitled to claim medical negligence compensation.
If you would like free legal advice from a Perth medical negligence solicitor, specialising in No Win No Fee compensation claims, call our helpline, send an email or complete our Contact Form. A chat with one of our solicitors is completely confidential, and you are under no obligation to instruct our solicitors to act for you.
Most healthcare professionals in Western Australia usually provide good service to their patients however sometimes things do go wrong as a result of clinical errors which is termed medical negligence. There are several ways in which a patient injured in WA can deal with matters including a formal complaint to the health authority which may give the patients the answers that they need or by consulting Perth medical negligence solicitors to take legal action for injury compensation in a court of law if prior negotiations about a damages claim fail.
A personal injury is inconvenient, painful and usually problematic and often brings with it a series of troubles and complications that can make life difficult. It is for this reason that the law facilitates damages claims to compensate for injuries and financial losses. If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer as a result of negligence by another person in Western Australia during the last three years then you are entitled to instruct Perth medical negligence solicitors to claim compensation. This could include compensation the pain you have suffered, loss of earnings, the potential loss of earnings from future work, any mental issues you may have suffered and physical problems that have caused you concern. These problems are serious and the courts operate to protect the interest of people just like you who have experienced them.
Our medical negligence solicitors have offices situated in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, and Sydney. Do yourself justice - give us a call.
Perth medical negligence compensation claims typically involve complaints about:
- Inadequate medical treatment.
- Wrong diagnosis.
- Surgical error.
- Medication error.
- Delay in commencing treatment.
- Failure to warn of risks.
- Failure to refer to a specialist.
- Incorrect test results reported.
- Professional misconduct, including drug-affected
health care professionals, and sexual misconduct.
Negligence can occur in all settings, including private practice, private hospitals, public hospitals, and clinics. It can happen to anyone - children, adults, the elderly, professionals, employed and unemployed, students, mums and dads. Medical injuries can be purely physical and/or psychological in nature such as Major Depression, Adjustment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorder etc.
In minor cases, an error is quickly identified and the situation is corrected before any damage occurs to the patient. However, more troubling cases involve circumstances where a patient suffers permanent damage which results in life-long disabilities. Living with a disability caused by an accident can have a huge impact on one’s capacity to work; to take care of their physical needs; to take care of their dependants; and to enjoy the pleasures of life they once knew.
Our Perth medical negligence solicitors have dealt with a wide variety of compensation claims and are able to provide advice on the most complex of cases including:
- Traumatic brain injury.
- Spinal Injury.
- Obstetric negligence (e.g birth trauma, cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, fractured clavicle).
- Gynaecology negligence (sterilisations, laparotomies, laparoscopies, hysterectomies).
- Surgical error (wrong-site surgery, retained instruments & swabs, nerve & organ damage).
- Medication errors (dosage errors, wrong medication, drugs contra-indicated).
- Infections (failure to diagnose and treat).
- Cancer misdiagnosis.
- Pathology errors.
- Antenatal testing errors (failure to diagnose congenital conditions; Down Syndrome).
- Incorrect reporting of x-rays, CT scans and other radiology.
- Complications from cosmetic and plastic surgery.
- Paediatric negligence.
- Failure to provide adequate post-operative care.
- Failure to warn of risks involved in a procedure or treatment.
- Faulty medical products and devices (hip replacements, pacemakers, breast implants).
- Dental injuries (jaw fractures and dislocations, nerve damage, infection).
Medical Negligence Law
Perth medical negligence law is governed by in Western Australia common law (case law / decisions by judges) and legislation known as the (Western Australian) Civil Liability Act 2002.
Western Australia common law generally requires that in order for a patient to receive medical negligence compensation, they must prove that:
- The health professional owed a duty of care to the patient.
- The injury could or should have been foreseen by the health professional.
- The health professional breached their duty of care to their patient, by some act or omission, resulting in an injury, harm or loss.
A medical negligence compensation claim can be commenced by the injured victim or by their guardian (on behalf of minors or persons suffering from a mental disability). An action can also be commenced by dependants who have lost a loved one due to negligence. Legal action can also be taken by third parties in special circumstances, for example in pure mental harm cases.
There are strict time limits which apply in all in Western Australia compensation claims. A court will only ever grant an extension of time in rare cases. That is why you should seek legal advice from a Perth medical negligence lawyer as soon as you are made aware of the possibility that you have been injured by poor clinical treatment.
Standard of Care
Further clarification of the common law can be found in legislation.
The Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA) sets out the standard of care for health professionals in section 5PB:
An act or omission of a health professional is not a negligent act or omission if it is in accordance with a practice that, at the time of the act or omission, is widely accepted by the health professional’s peers as competent professional practice.
What this means in practical terms is that the health professional (for example a doctor) won’t be considered to have been negligent, if other doctors provide medical reports/opinions stating that the care that the defendant doctor provided was competent care. However, there is still the possibility that a judge could completely disagree with the opinions of the insurance doctors who provide evidence in defense of the doctor.
A health professional could also be held liable for negligence, if their actions were “so unreasonable that no reasonable health professional in the health professional’s position could have acted or omitted to do something in accordance with that practice.”
Medical negligence cases are extremely difficult and are often hotly contested by the defendant health professional or hospital. That is why we recommend that patients should only be represented by an expert Perth medical negligence lawyer who represents patients on a daily basis and has experience in standing up for patients’ rights against insurance companies.
Our Perth medical negligence lawyers will advise you of all your options, including whether to commence legal action in the first place, whether to accept an offer of settlement, or whether to take your case to trial in a court of law. Our lawyers will fully advise you of the risks involved with each option, and the best course of action to take in your case.
The Civil Liability Act 2002, sets out the type of damages that can be awarded in medical negligence claims. There are various thresholds that must be met before compensation can be awarded.
Compensation may be paid for:
- Past and future loss of earnings.
- Gratuitous services of a domestic nature or relating to nursing and attendance.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of amenities of life.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Curtailment of expectation of life.
- Bodily or mental harm.
- Past and future medical expenses (including the cost of surgery, hospital expenses, doctor’s fees, physiotherapy, medications).
Damages awards in these actions is based on a figure for pain and suffering, compensation for both economic and non-economic losses plus interest both for the past and estimated for the future. The item that usually causes most difficulty for Perth medical negligence solicitors is estimation of the compensation award for pain and suffering which is mainly based on awards made in previous unrelated cases and the judges own experience as a practising lawyer.
The calculation of financial losses and pain and suffering
is often not an easy task. For the sake of convenience a Perth medical negligence solicitor will separate damages claims
into different categories and once these sums have been
calculated the amounts due may be increased by an interest
calculation which differs dependent on the category into
which the damages fall. The main categories are as follows
Represents compensation for items that cannot be calculated accurately by an accident compensation solicitor and often involves a degree of assessment. The category includes pain and suffering for injury, loss of amenity and loss of congenial employment. There are other items which may fall into this category where an accurate calculation of value is difficult if not impossible. Assessment of these losses is usually assisted by the use of expert opinions including specialist medical reports.
Represents compensation for losses that can be calculated accurately. This category includes loss of salary. There are numerous other items in this category and all losses should be discussed with a solicitor. These items are proved by documentary evidence including wage slips, invoices and estimates.
No Win No Fee
Our Perth 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.
There are a number of different teqniques that solicitors use to finance compensation claims. In the past the usual method was by the client privately funding the claim and paying sums on account of legal costs and expenses as the claim proceeded in the hope that the case would be won and those costs could be claimed back from the losing side. If the clients claim was lost then so too were the legal costs which were often a substantial loss to the client. The no win no fee compensation claim scheme has almost totally displaced the private funding of claims.
There is however one area of risk that applies to all litigated cases, including a no win no fee compensation claim, that needs careful consideration. In the event of a loss, after the issue of court proceedings, the loser is usually ordered to pay the winner's legal costs and disbursements which can be a very substantial sum. Almost all litigated claims therefore require insurance to cover against the possibility of losing and a subsequent costs order. Our solicitors finance this policy of insurance themselves and do not expect the client to pay or contribute to the costs. This insurance policy is only required if it becomes necessary to issue proceedings in a court of law which only occurs in a very small percentage of cases. If you instruct our solicitors to pursue a no win no fee compensation claim you can rest assured that it is completely risk free.
Strict time limits apply in clinical compensation claims, and if you are unsure whether you can still make a claim, you should speak with a Perth medical negligence solicitor.
There are time limits that a Perth medical negligence solicitor must work within. In general terms a claim for compensation must be either settled or legal proceedings must have been issued in a court of law within three years of the event or within three years of the discovery of the injury whichever is the latest. There are some exceptions to the three year rule including minors and the mentally infirm and in addition the court has a wide discretion. It is advisable to see a Perth medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible after the erroneous incident.
In Western Australia, if the negligent act or omission occurred prior to 15 November 2005, you have 6 years from the date of the negligence to lodge your claim. If you were injured on or after 15 November 2005, there is a 3 year limitation period. In some situations, a case could still be brought outside of the time limit if the injury or harm did not become immediately apparent. Different time limits also apply to children, persons with a mental or intellectual disability, and in some claims against public hospitals.
Safeguard your legal interest by seeking legal advice about your claim as soon as possible. Our experienced Perth medical negligence solicitors can advise you as to whether legal action is still possible or whether it is too late to do anything about it.
No Win No Fee Solicitors
Our solicitors are able to provide free initial advice without obligation and legal representation on a No Win No Fee basis. They are experts in handling the most complex of medical negligence claims, and are interested in representing patients and their families, not insurance companies. They will fight for your rights, and ensure that you receive maximum compensation under the law.
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