Medical malpractice

What you need to know about medical malpractice

The most difficult part of your medical malpractice compensation claim is proving the link between the negligent actions of the practitioner and the harm caused to you.

Insurers will often attempt to show that your injuries and disabilities were pre-existing rather than caused by practitioner negligence. That's why you need a medical malpractice lawyer.

At Maurice Blackburn, our medical malpractice specialists are highly skilled investigators and determined negotiators, who are well-versed in medical terminology and able to establish and defend the true circumstances of your personal injury claim.

Why Maurice Blackburn?

We are Australia's leading and largest team of medical negligence lawyers exclusively dedicated to representing injured patients and their families. Our specialised medical malpractice compensation lawyers have successfully resolved hundreds of complex and sensitive medical negligence cases, including many landmark claims.

If you think you have experienced medical malpractice, talk to us today to find out how we can help you. We have offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and throughout Australia. At Maurice Blackburn we fight for fair.

All you need to know about medical negligence

If your health care professional, hospital or other facility breaches what’s known as their duty of care, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Dimitra Dubrow

National Head of Medical Negligence, Melbourne

"I enjoy interacting closely with my clients and helping them to access their full entitlements. It is truly rewarding knowing that we are helping empower people."

Tom Ballantyne

Principal Lawyer, Melbourne

"I’m inspired by helping people achieve a measure of justice and financial stability."

Kathryn Booth

Principal Lawyer, Melbourne

"I have been working in medical law for many years and am passionate about getting answers for people who have been injured by the health care system."

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make a medical malpractice negligence claim?

You may be eligible to claim medical malpractice negligence compensation if you have been hurt by inadequate medical advice or treatment as a result of negligent treatment from your medical provider.

A provider can include a hospital, doctor, nurse, assistant, lab personnel, dentist, pharmacist or other employer or allied health professional.

What types of negligent treatment can I make a medical malpractice medical negligence claim for?

Healthcare professionals are expected to treat you with a reasonable standard of care. If the treatment you have received from a healthcare provider falls below acceptable standards, you may be able to claim medical malpractice medical negligence for any harm you have suffered.

The most common types of medical malpractice medical negligence claims can involve:

  • obstetrics
  • paediatrics
  • gynaecology
  • emergency medicine
  • surgery
  • orthopaedics
  • misdiagnosis of medical conditions
  • delayed diagnosis of medical conditions (for example after a Pap smear, breast screening or other diagnostic test)
  • drugs and drug reactions
  • cosmetic surgery

Who can I claim medical malpractice negligence compensation against?

Medical providers owe you a 'duty of care' to exercise skill, judgement and reasonable care when examining, diagnosing, treating and advising you. If they breach that duty, you may be able to make a medical negligence compensation claim and they may be liable for any harm caused.

The three most critical parts of your medical negligence compensation claims are known as liability, causation, and damage.

  • Proving liability – Signing a consent form that acknowledges specific risks and complications does not excuse your healthcare practitioner from the responsibility of meeting the appropriate standard of care for your treatment. Failure to exercise reasonable care, also known as breaching duty of care, can render the practitioner liable for the harm suffered by you as a result of the treatment.
  • Understanding causation – It isn’t enough to show that the healthcare practitioner failed to take reasonable care of you, or that the results of your treatment were poor. You will also need to prove that the practitioner’s poor performance caused the unsatisfactory result; this is known as causation.
  • Compensation for damages – The medical compensation you receive for the loss and harm you have suffered due to medical malpractice is known as damages

Common negligent treatment that you may be able to claim medical malpractice negligence compensation for include:

  • making an existing condition worse
  • misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition
  • failure to provide the appropriate treatment or referral
  • a delay in diagnosis or providing the appropriate treatment or referral
  • failure to perform surgery or provide post-operative care with reasonable care and skill
  • incorrectly reporting on test results.

What compensation can I expect to receive for my malpractice medical negligence claim?

You may be able to claim medical negligence compensation for medical malpractice and negligent treatment by a medical provider under general Australian law. This also applies if medical negligence or malpractice results in an unexpected death.

The law in some states has a threshold that determines how significant or severe an injury has to be before you’re entitled to claim damages for pain and suffering caused by this injury. Each state and territory has its own laws that apply to medical negligence cases.

To make a successful medical negligence claim, you need to be able to prove that:

  • there was negligent medical treatment
  • the treatment caused an injury or some harm that would not otherwise have occurred

If you do have a case, we will help settle it outside of court or represent you in court. Contact us to discuss your claim.

What expenses are covered and what benefits am I entitled to under my medical malpractice negligence compensation claim?

The medical compensation you will receive for damages caused by medical malpractice is usually awarded as a single lump sum payment that's intended to cover past, present and future expenses, and to compensate for the loss and harm you have suffered.

Your medical malpractice compensation can cover expenses including:

  • direct medical expenses
  • allied healthcare expenses
  • pharmaceuticals
  • medical and domestic assistance.

Your compensation can also cover loss of income and future earning capacity, as well as payment in acknowledgement of pain and suffering.

You will only need to pay our fees if you receive a settlement for your medical negligence compensation claim, as we provide our medical negligence services on a 'no win, no fee'* basis.

If your claim is successful, you will be charged for the costs of the investigation and the legal work performed after issuing proceedings. This will be a charge on the appropriate court scale, and you will be given more information about this at the time when the decision is made to issue proceedings.

You won't be charged our fees if your claim is not pursued. In most cases, disbursements (the out-of-pocket expenses that we pay to other people) must be paid whether you win or lose.

Can I represent myself when making a medical malpractice negligence claim?

Yes. However, medical malpractice negligence law is complicated. Even if you have received negligent treatment, you cannot make a negligence claim if you haven't suffered harm or injury.

As medicine is a difficult practice, your medical providers aren't expected to be perfect. Sometimes medical treatment is unsuccessful and injuries occur, but that is not enough to show that you were treated with negligence. You will need to prove that your negligent treatment is more than a reasonable mishap or mistake. 

It's important to get help from someone who understands the complexities of medical negligence law, with experience in your area. Maurice Blackburn is Australia's leading and largest team of medical negligence lawyers, with all the resources and experience that come with being a national firm.

If you think you’ve experienced negligence or malpractice, contact us today to find out how we can help you.

How do I make a medical malpractice negligence claim?

In order to make a medical malpractice negligence claim, you will need to:

  • Contact Maurice Blackburn to speak with our medical negligence team.
  • We will gather information from you about what has occurred and then provide you with a preliminary assessment.

We will help you understand if you have grounds for a claim by investigating your case and getting an independent medical expert's opinion. If we believe you should proceed further, we will then lodge your legal claim and represent you at mediation and settlement hearings.

If your case doesn’t settle, we can represent you in court. We also manage coroner's inquests by liaising with the court on your behalf, preparing the case and representing you in court. Contact us today.

How long do I have to make a medical malpractice negligence claim?

Time limits vary under the different state and federal laws. In most cases, you need to take legal action within three years of the injury. If your medical malpractice negligence claim is for a child, time limits can vary more and differ between states.

The timeline for your medical malpractice negligence claim may be shorter or longer depending on the case, so it's best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Extensions of time limits are sometimes possible.

How long does a medical malpractice negligence claim take?

Your medical malpractice medical negligence claim and the legal process may take up to several years, especially if you have to wait for injuries to stabilise.

No win, no fee*

Our medical negligence lawyers are experienced in winning fair compensation for our clients on a no win, no fee basis.

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