Medical Negligence Lawyers Gold Coast, Tweed Heads & Coolangatta
What is medical negligence?
This is negligent medical treatment or advice that has resulted in injury or worsened an injury.
In Tweed Heads, Coolangatta, and on the Gold Coast, Queensland, the law accepts that medical practitioners may need to make difficult medical decisions under significant pressure and mistakes can happen. Medical negligence is more than just a simple mistake in diagnosis or treatment provision.
Duty of Care
A medical practitioner such as a doctor has a duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and judgment in providing treatment to patients. This also includes examinations, diagnosing and providing information to their patients. Many consent forms specify an acknowledgement of the stated risks and complications that may arise from the provision of a given treatment or operation. However, this does not relieve the medical practitioner from their responsibility to provide reasonable care, skill and judgement.
Thus, to prove medical knowledge, a critical element that is required is evidence that the medical practitioner’s actions fell below the standard of care that is reasonably expected from a similar medical professional. In other words, if the medical practitioner’s actions are considered to be acceptable according to the opinion of a large number of respected medical practitioners in a similar field of practice, it may be difficult to prove the claim.
Another element to prove in a medical negligence claim is that the doctor’s performance caused the harmful result on a balance of probabilities. In other words, you need to establish to the courts that more likely than not, the doctor’s actions were responsible for the injuries that you sustained.
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A victim of medical negligence must be compensated for their losses and the harm suffered by their medical practitioner’s negligence.
Compensation for medical negligence is usually awarded as a lump sum payment to cover the costs of past, present and future expenses and losses. Calculating damages as a result of a medical practitioner’s negligence is a very difficult aspect of a medical negligence claim that should be left to an accredited specialist in personal injury. Some of the damages that may be awarded can include:
– Loss of income and earning capacity
– Medical expenses, prescriptions, equipment aides, etc.
– Attendant care or domestic assistance
– General damages such as pain and suffering (loss of enjoyment of life)
– Death claims. Relatives of a person who died from medical negligence may be able to make a claim for compensation for loss of reasonable expectation of future pecuniary benefits, mental/nervous shock or mental illnesses (anxiety disorder, major depression, adjustment disorder, etc.) caused by the loss of the person.
Will I end up in a Courtroom?
In Queensland, medical negligence matters have a pre-court procedure that must be complied with before attending before a Judge in a Courtroom. Such a process will involve you attending various medical professionals, depending upon the number, and extent, of your injuries. The pre-court procedures conclude (after the parties have obtained their necessary evidence) with the parties attending a compulsory conference.
Such a compulsory conference, may involve an insurer attending for the medical negligence insurer (or their representatives). You are required to participate and attend in such a conference, but will generally not be required to speak. That is our role or, in some instances, the role of a Barrister who we will brief in your matter.
Over 50% of all medical negligence matters would settle at Compulsory Conference. This is primarily due to most client’s being reasonable and the medical negligence insurer making a fair and reasonable assessment of the claim and the parties making offers accordingly. Sometimes, as with anything in life, two sides cannot agree on the evidence before them and in those cases the parties must seek a Judges intervention. It is only after the Compulsory Conference is unsuccessful that the parties commence Court proceedings.
Only a small percentage of medical negligence matters end up before a Judge (less than 2% of all matters).
How long will this take?
There are timeframes that expedite Medical Negligence claims to the Compulsory Conference relatively quickly. Assuming that all your injuries are stable and stationary (That is, not likely to improve or worsen with or without treatment) the claim may take approximately 12 – 18 months to proceed to compulsory conference. That is because we are able to have you medically assessed by appropriate specialists almost immediately to have the specialists assess the damage you have suffered. We cover those legal disbursements for you until the conclusion of your claim.
If you have injuries (or all injuries) that have not become stable and stationary, then the timeframe may take longer.
An estimated timeframe can be given to you at your first consultation.
Are there time limits that apply to medical negligence claims?
There are strict timeframes (known as limitation dates) that operate on any action in Queensland. For medical negligence claims that is three (3) years from the date you knew or ought to have known of the medical practitioner’s negligence incident occurred. The best advice is to seek legal advice as early as possible following suspected negligent medical treatment.
For any other questions about how such matters are handled, visit our FAQ page.