By Marlon Marquardt. Last Updated 13th January 2023. In this guide, we’ll aim to answer the question, “can I sue my doctor for negligence?”. When you seek medical attention, you’re entitled to a minimum standard of care. If this standard is not met, this is an example of negligence, which can negatively affect your health.
This guide will clarify in what instances you may be able to make a medical negligence claim. We’ll also look to answer the following questions:
- What is considered negligence by a doctor?
- What are some examples of medical negligence?
- How do you prove clinical negligence?
- How do I sue a hospital for negligence?
- What are the benefits of using a No Win No Fee solicitor?
Our advisors are available 24/7, offer free legal advice and can tell you in just one phone call if you’re eligible to claim. Contact us at a time that works for you using the details below.
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us through our website.
- Use the Live Chat function on the right-hand side of your screen.
Select A Section
- Can I Sue My Doctor For Negligence Causing Injury Or Illness?
- Does A GP Have A Duty Of Care?
- What Are The Types Of Medical Negligence?
- What Is Considered Negligence By A Doctor?
- How Do You Prove Medical Negligence By A Doctor?
- What Payout Could I Get If I Sue My Doctor For Negligence?
- Can I Sue My Doctor For Negligence With A No Win No Fee Solicitor?
- Latest Medical Negligence Guides
Making a medical or clinical negligence claim is similar to making a personal injury claim in that it revolves around proving third-party negligence. Every doctor or medical professional has a duty of care to their patients. They have a responsibility to act within the required standards of their profession.
Therefore, to make a claim, you need to be able to prove the below three things:
- Firstly, that the third party had a duty of care to you
- Secondly, that the third party breached their duty of care
- Finally, that this breach led to your injury or the worsening of your condition.
Only by proving these three things could you receive compensation. This guide will outline what is meant by negligent care, provide examples of when you could claim and explain the different types of negligence you may be able to claim for. This will help give you a greater insight into answering the question, “can I sue my doctor for negligence?”
If your condition has worsened due to medical negligence and you’d like to know more about the claims process, please call us at a time that works for you. We’re available 24/7, and you can call us at no charge. We’ll now go into more detail about how a doctor or a GP could be negligent; read on to find out more.
GPs and doctors in the UK have a duty of care to make sure they treat patients within the guidelines of their profession. This is outlined in the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Duties of a Doctor.
Every doctor in the UK also needs to agree to the GMC’s code of conduct. If they don’t, they won’t be licensed to practice. GPs also need to adhere to this. Principles they need to follow include showing selflessness, objectivity and accountability to every patient they treat.
It’s important to note that just because you’ve been harmed as a result of medical treatment doesn’t mean that a breach of duty of care has occurred. Sometimes, complcations can arise in medical treatment even when the right level of care is being administered.
For example, you may have sustained a badly crushed finger in an accident with machinery in work. When you seek medical attention, it’s decided that your finger needs to be amputated. Even though you’re technically “harmed” in the process of this medical procedure, it falls within an acceptable level of care.
In addition to this, you could seek medical attention for a condition. Your doctor could do everything in their power to diagnose you but fail to do so. This may be, for example, because you’re not exhibiting typical symptoms of this condition. Your doctor would not be considered in breach of their duty of care even if your condition is misdiagnosed and your health worsens as a result.
There are also different types of medical negligence that help determine the amount of compensation you could receive. Different types of negligence include:
- Contributory negligence – This is when you’re considered to be partially responsible for the injury or worsening of your condition. For instance, you may not have told your doctor about all the symptoms you’re experiencing. However, it might be expected from the symptoms you did outline that the doctor could have made a diagnosis anyway, or ask you additional questions about your symptoms that would have allowed them to diagnose you properly.
- Vicarious liability – You may be able to claim against the NHS because they are ultimately responsible for the mistakes made by medical professionals. For example, it might be that a doctor who made a mistake was given incorrect guidance from one of their superiors.
- Gross negligence – This is considered a lack of care or diligence by the third party. English civil law doesn’t distinguish between gross negligence and simple negligence. However, gross negligence is often characterised as an extreme indifference towards the safety of others. An example of this could be where a doctor prescribes a patient medication that their medical records say they’re allergic to.
An important aspect of answering the question “can I sue my doctor for negligence?” is understanding the different areas of medicine that negligence could occur in.
- Administrative errors. For example, you may not be sent a letter about an appointment that’s arranged, meaning that you miss the appointment. This could delay your diagnosis or treatment. In addition to this, your test results could be mislabelled, meaning that you don’t receive the right diagnosis.
- Prescription errors. Being provided with the wrong medication or prescription. This could exasperate a chest injury or lengthen the recovery time of a broken foot, for instance. However, it’s important to note that you would not be able to sue your doctor for negligence if the mistake was made by the pharmacy; for example, because they gave you a medication that was not in your prescription.
- Surgical errors. This could involve, for example, the wrong body part being amputated or the wrong procedure being performed. You could also be injected with the wrong amount of anaesthetic and be traumatised due to feeling pain during the procedure or waking up during surgery.
- Delays in appointments. This could mean that you don’t get a diagnosis or treatment as early as you could. This could cause your condition to worsen more than it would have if you’d gotten the right level of care.
To learn more about claiming for this type of negligence, please call our team at a time that suits you. They offer free legal advice and can provide you with a reliable compensation estimate.
If you suffer from negligence by a doctor or GP, the biggest issue can be proving this. Evidence is crucial in any claim for compensation.
Therefore, the answer to the question “can I sue my doctor for negligence?” partly depends on what you’re able to provide as evidence. Examples of what you could use include:
- CCTV footage
- Medical reports
- An independent medical assessment. When making a medical negligence claim, this will be arranged for you to confirm the extent of your condition and how it’s affected your quality of life
- Photographic evidence, for example, of your worsening symptoms
As well as evidence that you provide as part of your claim, the courts will administer something called the Bolam test to determine whether the actions of the doctor were negligent. This is where a panel of peers are asked whether or not the level of care delivered was acceptable. If not, the doctor would be considered negligent.
Having determined whether you can sue your doctor for negligence, you may be wondering how much compensation you could receive. There are two potential heads of claim you may be entitled to.
General damages relate to the pain and suffering, both physically and psychologically, caused by the incident. This means you can also sue a medical professional for psychological injury, such as depression or anxiety.
Special damages, meanwhile, relate to the financial losses caused by the injury. You can’t claim special damages if you don’t also receive general damages.
Work from the Judicial College means we’re able to provide you with a reliable compensation estimate. This is because they analyse previous payouts, comparing them to the severity and type of injury, to build compensation brackets.
We use these values to provide you with as reliable an estimate as possible. While we may not be able to answer, “what is the average payout for medical negligence?” as a claim can depend on many different factors, the table below supplies injuries and their relevant compensation brackets. We’ve based this table on figures from the Judicial College Guidelines.
|Area of Injury
|Amount of Compensation
|This injury leads to complete loss of function and control.
|Reproductive System: Male
|An injury in this bracket leads to an uncomplicated case of sterility without impotence or any aggravating features for a young man without children.
|£41,970 to £70,030
|Injuries in this bracket include fractures of both heels or feet leading to mobility restrictions or permanent and considerable pain.
|£38,780 to £69,730
|Injuries in this bracket includes fractures of discs or disc lesions causing chronic conditions where, despite treatment, leads to continuing disabilities.
|£54,830 to £65,710
|This injury leads to the total loss of one eye.
|£31,310 to £54,830
|This chest injury will lead to lung and chest damage causing continuous disability.
|This bracket includes the loss of one kidney with no damage or issues to the other one.
|Injuries in this bracket lead to dislocations or fractures causing immediately severe symptoms that may lead to you requiring spinal fusion.
|Up to £13,740
|This bracket includes lacerations, bruising or twisting injuries that cause occasional pain and discomfort.
|£7,890 to £12,770
|An injury in this bracket includes a frozen shoulder, leading to discomfort and limitations of movement.
Suing For Negligence – Special Damages
As we have mentioned above, special damages is compensation for how an injury or illness has financially affected you. To give you examples, you could be able to claim compensation for:
- Your income being affected by your illness or condition
- Your spending towards your medicine or treatment
- Your spending towards your care needs
When suing for negligence, just as you will need evidence that shows how you were affected by a negligent doctor, you will need evidence that shows your financial losses.
If possible, collect or maintain receipts, payslips or any other financial records that can support your claim.
If you have any further questions about medical negligence, duty of care or the financial losses you could be able to claim compensation for then please reach out to one of our advisers.
You may be unsure what the benefits of using a No Win No Fee solicitor are when attempting to sue a medical professional for negligence. The benefits include:
- Not paying your solicitor any fees before the claim begins or while it’s ongoing.
- Not having to pay your solicitor if the claim is unsuccessful.
- In the event of a successful claim, your solicitor simply takes a small, legally capped portion of your compensation as a success fee.
To have your claim queries answered, please contact our team free of charge using the details below. We can provide you with a reliable compensation estimate and put you through a solicitor from our panel who could represent you in your claim.
To get in touch, you can:
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us through our website.
- Use the Live Chat function on the right-hand side of your screen
If you have more queries like, “can I sue my doctor for negligence?” please see below for useful links that may help you.
To learn how to complain to the NHS, visit their website.
You can read more about never events by reading this NHS guidance.
Do you want information on whether you might have broken a bone? If so, read this NHS webpage.
Do you want to know what to expect at a medical appointment? If so, read this page on our website.
Have you suffered a fractured skull and want to see if you can claim? If so, read this webpage.
To see if you can claim for a hip injury, read this article.
Why not check out more of our medical negligence guides?
- How long does a medical negligence case take?
- Do I need to work with medical negligence solicitors near me?
- Sepsis claims
- To learn about claiming compensation for a broken bone suffered during childbirth, head here. You can find out about the claims process and potential compensation payouts for birth injury claims
- Claim compensation for being starved of oxygen at birth
- How much money can you get for medical negligence?
Thank you for reading our guide answering the question, “can I sue my doctor for negligence?”.