Legal Information Centre

14 August 2008 by Mary Heaney

Clinical negligence

Medical/clinical negligence is a specialised part of the law relating to personal injury.

Medical/clinical negligence is a specialised part of the law relating to personal injury. Where  the injury is caused by medical and nursing treatment in the UK which has not been of the standard generally accepted as reasonable for that area of medicine, the patient may be able to claim compensation.

What are the three elements to prove medical negligence?

Clinical negligence solicitors  use three essential measures  to prove medical negligence:


Duty of care


All doctors and other health professionals owe a duty to their patients to exercise reasonable care in carrying out their professional skills.


Breach of duty of care (negligence)


The second element is to establish a breach of duty of care, i.e. showing that the doctor has been negligent.


Causation of injury


If it can be proved that the doctor was negligent, the next step is to show that the negligence caused the patient harm.

What are the time limits for bringing a case?

There are different time limits within which a person must begin legal action in a personal injury claim. The most common claim in a personal injury case is negligence and the time limit for this is three years. This means that court proceedings must be issued within three years of you first being aware that you have suffered an injury. Also, in a clinical negligence claim, you might not be aware of errors in treatment for some time after that treatment has taken place. In such cases, it is possible to extend the three year limitation period to three years from the date you first knew or ought reasonably to have suspected that there were problems with your treatment.

Useful links

Using a personal injury lawyer

Using a medical negligence solicitor

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