Clinical Malpractice in Ireland

Clinical malpractice is one of the most complicated areas of compensation claims law, and determining whether there has been clinical malpractice can be problematic. It is therefore important to get the best possible legal advice from a clinical malpractice solicitor if you think that you may have been the victim of clinical malpractice or have been injured or suffered ill health due to the action — or inaction — of a medical professional.

In order to provide you with advice on clinical malpractice compensation claims, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to answer your questions and have set up a free helpline to allow you to speak with an experienced clinical malpractice solicitor.

What is Clinical Malpractice?

Clinical malpractice and clinical negligence are terms which are often used interchangeably; however there are subtle differences between the two which are best explained by a personal injury compensation solicitor specialising in claims for medical errors.

Clinical malpractice is defined as a breach in a duty of care to a patient by a doctor, hospital, health clinic or medical professional. Clinical malpractice covers a wide range of medical mistakes and even administration errors which cause injuries to patients or a deterioration of their health. Clinical malpractice includes inaccurate diagnoses of diseases, incorrect medical procedures, medication errors, accidents in hospitals caused by poorly trained medical staff and even medical procedures undertaken without consent.

The list of examples of clinical negligence is long; however if you have suffered as a result of any medical treatment which could have been avoided with proper care, or if you have had surgery go wrong, you may be eligible to claim compensation for clinical malpractice and you should seek legal advice from a clinical malpractice claims solicitor.

Can I Make a Clinical Malpractice Claim for Compensation?

In the vast majority of cases, medical treatments are correctly prescribed and surgical procedures are completed to a very high standard in Ireland. Doctors and medical professionals work incredibly hard, and complete their job to the best of their ability. However, even with the level of diligence and care throughout the Irish health system, mistakes can and do occur. When these mistakes cause an injury to patients, or cause their health to deteriorate, it is often possible to claim clinical malpractice compensation to make up for any pain and suffering caused.

In order to claim clinical malpractice compensation, there must have been a failure in a duty of care to you as a patient, and you must have been caused harm as a result. You must also be able to prove that this was the case. It is also necessary to prove that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that the mistake could have been avoided by any reasonably competent doctor, and that alternative treatment could have prevented the injury from being sustained or have stopped your health from deteriorating. Just because an injury has been sustained when under the care of a medical professional, it does not necessarily mean that there has been clinical malpractice.

Free Clinical Malpractice Legal Advice

Due to the problems with determining whether there has been clinical malpractice, it is essential that any potential claim for compensation is thoroughly assessed by an experienced clinical malpractice compensation solicitor. Claims for clinical malpractice can be highly complicated, and an in depth working knowledge of clinical malpractice law is essential if you want to maximise your chances of winning compensation, as well as being sure that you claim your full entitlement to clinical malpractice compensation.

For advice on all aspects of clinical malpractice claims for compensation, we invite you to call our clinical malpractice claims helpline for free advice. Call us today and speak to clinical malpractice claims solicitor with extensive experience of dealing with claims for compensation due to medical errors in Ireland. Alternatively, request a call back by completing the call back request form to the left, and one of our solicitors will call you at the requested time.

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Obtaining Evidence and Proving Clinical Malpractice

Proving clinical malpractice can be highly complicated and requires the expert opinion of medical professionals. The only way in which it can be proven that a doctor has acted inappropriately or has made an error is to consult other medical professionals for their expert advice. In order for a clinical malpractice claim to be successful, it must be proven that ‘on the balance of probability’ that a reasonably competent doctor would have taken a different course of action, and by doing so would have prevented an injury of a deterioration of the condition. As part of this process, it may be necessary to undergo further medical examinations. Your solicitor will arrange this to help substantiate your claim.

Since treatment of a condition often involves a number of choices, just because a doctor has taken a perhaps unconventional treatment plan, it does not mean that it constitutes clinical malpractice. Only when that treatment can be proven to be negligent can a claim for clinical malpractice succeed.

Claiming Clinical Malpractice Compensation in Ireland

In Ireland, personal injury compensation claims first require an assessment from the Injuries Board Ireland. Clinical malpractice claims are different however, and do not require the involvement of the Injuries Board Ireland. Clinical malpractice compensation claims are always dealt with by the Irish court system if they cannot first be resolved by negotiation, although which courts deal with the claim is dictated by the value of the claim.

Professional negligence claims for compensation such as for clinical malpractice may be resolved in any of the three court systems in Ireland. Your claim will be dealt with by the District Courts if the claim is expected to be resolved for less than €6,348.69. The Circuit Courts deal with claims from this level up to €38,092.14, and claims in excess of this figure will be dealt with by the High Court. The High Court is usually preferable to a plaintiff, as the experience of the judges is far greater.

Without the Injuries Board Ireland’s involvement, and because court action may be necessary, it is essential that you use a clinical malpractice solicitor to pursue your claim for clinical malpractice compensation, and getting a solicitor involved at the earliest possible opportunity will be of significant benefit to any clinical malpractise claim.

Avoiding Litigation in Irish Clinical Malpractice Compensation Claims

Although clinical malpractice compensation claims may involve the Irish court system, in many cases it is possible to avoid court litigation. All doctors in Ireland are required to have medical insurance in order to practice medicine, and it is the insurance company – not the doctor personally — who will pay out any clinical malpractice compensation award. Insurance companies will make an assessment of the likely costs of any potential claim made against a medical professional. They will also assess the chances of a successful defence and will decide whether to try to reduce their liabilities. Often, insurance companies prefer to settle out of court. A doctor or hospital will often be keen to make an out of court settlement too, as this means that liability does not have to be accepted, and this has considerable financial benefits to them.

Your chosen clinical malpractice solicitor will discuss any offer of settlement with you, and will assess whether it is fair and adequate to cover your injuries. Your solicitor will give you an indication whether it is worth your while accepting any offer, or whether a claim should be pursued for a more appropriate clinical malpractice settlement.

Clinical Malpractice Claims in Ireland and Third Party Capture

Early offers of settlement are of great benefit to an insurance company, especially considering the high value of many clinical malpractice compensation claims. When court costs and third party legal costs are added to the settlement figure, insurance companies often have to pay dearly. It is for this reason that many insurance companies employ a tactic called third party capture. This involves making an unsolicited offer of settlement, often before legal advice is even sought by a plaintiff. In return for a lower settlement figure, a clinical malpractice victim will be offered a quicker payment of compensation. This may be preferable, but it is rarely adequate for a victim of clinical malpractice.

It is important that any offer of compensation is first discussed with a clinical malpractice solicitor; as such claims have high potential to be under-settled. It is often the case that such compensation settlements are grossly inadequate. Insurance company offers are not made for the benefit of victims of clinical malpractice, as they are purely business decisions made by insurers to increase profits and reduce losses.

Clinical Malpractice Compensation Claims and Contributory Negligence

Respondents and insurance companies have much to lose from a clinical malpractice claim for compensation. Both will suffer financially, with the respondent likely to have to pay increased insurance premiums and the insurance company having to pay out a compensation award. A medical professional or institution will not want the stigma associated with a lost clinical malpractice claim and as such, clinical malpractice claims for compensation are often rigorously defended.

Part of the defence strategy will be to look for any contributory negligence by the plaintiff in an attempt to either discredit a claim, or to reduce any clinical malpractice compensation award. Contributory negligence can be any action by which the plaintiff could have contributed to the severity of injuries sustained, or even have been the primary cause. A patient discharging himself from hospital is a good example of when contributory negligence could be used by the defence. Although this may not mean that a clinical malpractice will fail, it will almost certainly reduce the value of a clinical malpractice compensation claim.

Clinical Malpractice and Timescales for Claiming Compensation

There is a strict time period in which a claim for clinical malpractice must be initiated in Ireland, governed by the Irish Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations in Ireland states that all claims must be commenced within two years of the ‘Date of Knowledge’ of clinical malpractice. This is not necessarily the date of which the clinical malpractice occurred, but when clinical malpractice was discovered to have happened. With a misdiagnosis of cancer for instance, it may not become apparent for many months or even years later that there has been a misdiagnosis. How the Statute of Limitations in Ireland is applied can vary from case to case, so it is vital that a clinical malpractice compensation solicitor is consulted as soon as clinical malpractice is suspected.

Clinical Malpractice Injuries to Children

Clinical malpractice claims for children are a notable exception to the standard application of the Statute of Limitations in Ireland. Children cannot claim compensation for clinical malpractice until they come of age — or make any legal claim for that matter. The time period for claiming in this case officially starts from the child’s eighteenth birthday. However claims can be filed before this date by a responsible adult acting as a ‘next friend’. A next friend — usually a parent or legal guardian — can file a claim on the child’s behalf at any point from the date of knowledge until the child turns 18.

How Much Clinical Malpractice Compensation Will I Receive?

Consulting the Book of Quantum is a common way for plaintiffs to calculate how much clinical malpractice compensation they can claim; however the Book of Quantum is often behind the times in terms of negotiated settlements and court awards and the effect that a similar injury can have both physically and emotionally on a victim´s quality of life can vary dramatically. If you want to know the value of a clinical malpractice compensation claim, you should speak to an experienced clinical malpractice solicitor for an accurate assessment relating to your individual situation.

However, even though an experienced clinical malpractice solicitor may be able to give you an indication of the level of clinical malpractice compensation which you can claim, an estimate is all that can be provided initially. Only after a clinical malpractice solicitor has thoroughly investigated a potential claim can an accurate value be assigned.

How is Clinical Malpractice Compensation Awarded?

As with any personal injury compensation claim, clinical malpractice compensation is awarded in two separate categories; general damages and special damages. A claim for general damages for clinical malpractice is the most complicated to calculate, as it is concerned with factors such as pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Assigning a value to the degree of pain and suffering caused by a medical condition, and the loss of physical ability which has resulted from the clinical malpractice, requires a skilled approach. An experienced clinical malpractice compensation solicitor will accurately calculate the maximum entitlement to compensation after factoring in the age, general state of health, and sex of the plaintiff, in addition to many other factors.

Clinical malpractice special damages are concerned with recovering any costs incurred by the plaintiff which can be attributed to the injuries caused by clinical malpractice, in addition to future treatment costs and loss of earnings. Clinical malpractice special damages need to be substantiated with receipts and invoices, and can include any expense or cost which can be attributed to the injury or health problems caused by clinical malpractice.

Get Help From A Clinical Malpractice Compensation Claims Solicitor

Regardless of the circumstances which caused a medical mistake to be made, it is vital that an experienced clinical malpractice solicitor is consulted for advice. Our team of solicitors is highly experienced in all aspects of Irish clinical malpractice claims law and will provide you with pertinent, accurate and unbiased advice on your eligibility to claim, the chances of success, the costs of legal action in Ireland and whether it is actually worth your while to make a claim for compensation.

Our free clinical malpractice claims helpline will allow you to speak directly with a solicitor and get a free assessment of any potential claim without pressure or obligation to proceed with legal action. Our solicitors understand that you will have been through a highly traumatic experience, and that you may have been left confused, upset, angry or depressed. We are used to dealing with the full range of emotions, and assure you that your enquiry will be treated with empathy and compassion.

Call us today and take the first step towards obtaining your full entitlement to clinical malpractice compensation, or complete our call back form and one of our solicitors will be in touch with you when you are free to speak about your potential clinical malpractice claim.