What evidence do I need to proceed with a medical negligence claim?

Published 06 Nov 2017

Medical negligence claims are a complex area of liability law. They are often among the most difficult cases for claimants to win because medical practitioners perform a challenging job in high-pressure environments, so they are afforded some professional leeway.

But medical negligence is still taken seriously in the ACT. A woman settled a claim against Canberra Hospital earlier this year for $12 million after she suffered a stroke and brain damage following drug treatments for migraines.

Nevertheless, you will need sufficient evidence that negligence has occurred, so here is a brief list of the types of proof you can present at trial to sway the courts in your favour.

Plaintiff statement

Medical negligence lawyers need a statement from the plaintiff that outlines the circumstances of the case from their perspective. This statement will cover issues such as when the initial symptoms appeared, what discussions with medical practitioners occurred and the resulting outcomes of treatment.

Witness statements

Any witnesses the claimant can draw upon to support their case are crucial, as they can provide third-party confirmation of what occurred. This can be difficult in a medical negligence case, as most communication with doctors will be one on one or only witnessed by medical colleagues, who may be reluctant to speak out against a fellow professional.

Medical documentation

Medical records and other documentation showing the claimant’s treatment process are vital to proving negligence. Doctor’s notes, copies of diagnostic tests and a patient’s medical history help paint a picture of the whens, wheres and hows of the claimant’s experience during treatment for their illness or injury. They also provide confirmation of any plaintiff and witness statements made.

Expert opinion

Experienced medical negligence lawyers have access to independent experts who can judge a case on its merits and provide specialist testimony if the matter proceeds to court. Medical experts can also offer advice on whether or not the claim is likely to succeed at all, which can stop people from pursuing lost causes.

Proof of losses

Claimants who win medical negligence claims receive compensation for a range of economic and non-economic losses. These include:

  • Past and future loss of income and superannuation;
  • Past and future treatment and care costs;
  • Expenses for home modifications and other support aids; and
  • Redress for pain and suffering, loss of life expectancy and a poorer quality of life.

Individuals must therefore provide compelling evidence of the financial and emotional impact of their injuries in order to receive maximum compensation.

Discuss medical negligence claims with Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.