What factors do the courts consider in medical negligence claims?

PUBLISHED 21 Mar 2016

Australia is well known for its excellent health care system, which helps millions of people in the country enjoy a better quality of life every year. Sadly, negligence can occur in the sector, and adverse outcomes may have a significant impact on an individual's physical and mental health.

NSW legislation protects people who suffer negligence in health care environments, which is why you should contact an experienced compensation lawyer in the state if you feel medical practitioners have failed you. However, cases can be complex, and the courts will consider various factors before making a decision.

This article will outline some of the key issues that judges must address when ruling on a medical negligence claim. Nevertheless, every situation is unique and even cases that appear similar on the surface may have differences that could affect the result.

Was reasonable care taken?

Practitioners owe patients a duty of care, which means you can expect a certain standard of treatment when you visit your local doctor or any another medical professional in the industry. If they breach this obligation by not taking reasonable care, you could have a strong case for compensation.

Unfortunately for plaintiffs, accidents that sometimes occur in health care environments may not necessarily constitute negligence. You must show the medical practitioner's approach was not the course of action a reasonable person in the profession would have taken.

Did a breach of care cause injuries?

You may not receive compensation even if you didn't receive reasonable care, as you'll also need to prove that the breach resulted in your injuries. In some cases, medical practitioners have provided substandard services, but their failings were not directly related to the patient's deteriorated condition.

For example, the courts may rule that a doctor failed in their duty of care if they misdiagnosed an illness, but you may not receive compensation if the mistake is later decided to be unconnected to ongoing health problems.

Did you have pre-existing illnesses or injuries?

Successful claims can result in significant damages, particularly if you've suffered long-term or even permanent effects after receiving care.

Courts often provide damages to cover lost income and superannuation, costs for medical treatments and equipment, and other related expenses. However, judges may reduce your payment if some of your injuries or illnesses were pre-existing.

If you'd like to discuss a medical negligence claim, please contact compensation lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners for a free consultation.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.