Our Sydney medical negligence lawyers work hard to protect the rights of patients and their families. One of the most important social principles of medical negligence litigation is deterrence of future wrongful conduct. Our expert solicitors are dedicated to improving the safety of the NSW health care system by holding negligent doctors, midwives, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists and hospitals to account for the harm they cause.
Patients who have been harmed by medical treatment come to us seeking to know the truth about what happened to them, who is to blame for their injury, and holding accountable those who caused the harm. Our Sydney medical negligence solicitors and lawyers are dedicated and caring professionals, with decades of experience in providing accurate legal advice to victims of medical negligence across New South Wales, including metropolitan and rural areas.
If you would like obligation-free legal advice from an expert in medical negligence law, contact us today.
Medical treatment is risky by nature, and adverse events can happen even when the patient receives top medical care. The law doesn’t compensate for everything that goes wrong- minor inconsequential mistakes can happen to the best of health care practitioners. What the law does require is that health care practitioners act competently in accordance with the standard of care required of their specialty or profession.
Poor diagnostic skills, poor communication skills, lack of training, unethical behaviour, drug or alcohol affected practitioners, arrogance and general incompetence can cause serious harm to patients. In these circumstances, patients have every right to be concerned for their welfare. They also have the right to seek compensation for damage caused by medical negligence, and the right to report the offending health practitioner to the relevant authorities.
NSW Medical Negligence Law
In New South Wales, the law of medical negligence can be found in case law as well as legislation known as the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW).
In basic terms, in order to get compensation for medical negligence, you need to prove that the health care practitioner:
- Breached their duty of care
- The breach in duty of care has caused damage to the victim, and this damage was reasonably foreseeable
- The victim has suffered damage or loss
The amount of compensation that can be awarded is subject to various thresholds and caps on damages, in accordance with the Civil Liability Act.
Our experienced Sydney medical negligence lawyers and solicitors can tell if a case for compensation is worth investigating, from the first contact with the victim. If it is not, the victim of medical negligence is informed of this, as well as to any other options they may have for redress, such as making a complaint with the relevant Board or Authority.
Standard of Care
In determining whether a health care professional has breached their duty of care to the patient, a Sydney medical negligence lawyer will review all the available evidence, such as statements from witnesses, medical and hospital records. They will also need to instruct an independent medical expert in the same field of specialty as the defendant health practitioner, who will review the evidence and provide their opinion as to whether the professional’s actions were of “competent professional practice.”
Section 5O of the Civil Liability Act 2002 NSW relating to Standard of care for professionals , states that:
- A person practising a profession ( "a professional") does not incur a liability in negligence arising from the provision of a 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 peer professional opinion as competent professional practice.
- However, peer professional opinion cannot be relied on for the purposes of this section if the court considers that the opinion is irrational.
- The fact that there are differing peer professional opinions widely accepted in Australia concerning a matter does not prevent any one or more (or all) of those opinions being relied on for the purposes of this section.
- Peer professional opinion does not have to be universally accepted to be considered widely accepted.
Section 5O does not apply to liability arising in connection with the giving of (or the failure to give) a warning, advice or other information in respect of the risk of death of or injury to a person associated with the provision by a professional of a professional service. In these cases, common law principles derived from “failure to warn” cases apply.
Breach in Duty of Care
Examples of cases where health professionals have been held liable for breaching their duty of care, include:
- Brain damage to a baby because an obstetrician allowed a labour to continue despite signs of fetal distress which indicated that an emergency caesarian section should have been carried out.
- Skull fracture through improper use of forceps.
- Failed sterilisation procedure, resulting in unwanted pregnancy.
- Mismanagement of fibroids, cysts, endometriosis and other conditions.
- Laparoscopy and laparotomy injures- e.g nerve damage, ureter injury, bladder injury.
- Injuries associated with hysterectomy.
Emergency Department Errors
- Incorrect triaging by nurses.
- Failure to diagnose and treat conditions such as a brain haemorrhage or aneurysm, heart attack, fractures.
- Failure to order tests such as x-rays, CT scans and MRI’s.
- Cosmetic surgery resulting in unsightly scarring.
- Face-lift surgery resulting in injury to the accessory nerve.
- Failure to warn of risks associated with surgery.
- A GP who failed to order appropriate tests to rule out the possibility of cancer, resulting in cancer misdiagnosis and delayed treatment.
- Misdiagnosis of heart attack.
- Failing to refer to a specialist for appropriate treatment, especially when symptoms and test results indicate that a patient requires specialist medical care.
- Medication errors including prescribing contra-indicated medication or wrong dosage.
Compensation for Damage
Poor medical care can result in damage such as:
- worsening of a condition;
- physical injury;
- emotional/psychological injury;
If you or a member of your family was injured due to an error in diagnosis, treatment, or as a result of medical care that was below professionally-accepted standards, you may be entitled to compensation. There are time limits and you should take urgent advice from a Sydney medical negligence solicitor.
Compensation is available in medical negligence claims to cover the cost of medical, hospital, and pharmaceutical expenses related to your injury. The Civil Liability Act 2002 also contains numerous complex provisions covering maximum amounts that may be awarded with regard to:
- Loss of earnings.
- Loss of superannuation entitlements.
- Cost of attendant care services (nursing care, domestic assistance).
- Damages for loss of capacity to provide domestic assistance to dependants.
- Non-economic loss (e.g compensation for pain and suffering).
- Economic loss arising from pure mental harm (where there is a recognised psychiatric illness).
Compensation claims need to be commenced within 3 years of the date of the negligence. However, there are some rare exceptions to this rule, which an NSW medical negligence solicitor can explain to you. If you would like legal advice on making a compensation claim, contact us without delay before time runs out in your case.
No Win No Fee Solicitors
It is extremely difficult for a layperson to represent themselves in medical negligence claims, due to the complex nature of the medical and legal aspects of these claims, and the fact that most medical negligence claims are vigorously defended by the health practitioner/s and their lawyers.
Most cases do settle out-of-court, but only after vigorous negotiations with the insurance company’s lawyers, or through a formal mediation. Some contentious issues do end-up in court. We therefore suggest that an expert NSW medical negligence lawyer or solicitor should handle your case from the very beginning, to ensure that all legal avenues are explored and that your case is thoroughly prepared should the matter be vigorously defended in a court of law.
Our Sydney medical negligence solicitors handle NO WIN NO FEE claims across New South Wales. They are experts in dealing the most complex of cases against professionals in all specialties of medicine.
Contact us today for free and confidential legal advice.