Medical negligence
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You have the right to trust your medical provider to look after you properly. A provider can include a hospital, doctor, nurse, assistant, lab personnel, dentist, pharmacist or other employer or allied health professional.

Medical negligence—or medical malpractice—happens when treatment falls below an acceptable standard. Doctors have a 'duty of care' to exercise reasonable care, skill and judgement when examining, diagnosing, treating and advising their patients. If they breach that duty, they may be liable for any harm caused and you may be able to claim compensation.

Making a claim

Medicine is a complicated practice and providers aren't expected to be perfect. Sometimes medical treatment is unsuccessful and injuries occur, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there has been any negligence. Negligent treatment is more than a reasonable mishap or mistake, and may involve:

  • 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.

Laws vary between states and territories, but generally allow you to claim compensation if you have suffered physical, psychological or financial harm as a result of negligent treatment. This applies if a malpractice results in an unexpected death.

You cannot make a claim if you haven't suffered harm or injury—even if you have received negligent treatment. And in some states, your injury has to be severe enough before you can claim damages for pain and suffering.

Time limits do apply and vary between states and territories. In most cases, you need to take legal action within three years of the injury. Time limits also differ for children and vary between states. This timeline may be shorter or longer depending on the case, so it's best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Why Maurice Blackburn?

We know that the compensation you receive is vital to quality of life for you and your family. We are dedicated to helping you get your life back on track and will fight for you.

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

We can help you understand if you have grounds for a claim by investigating your case and getting an independent medical expert's opinion. If you do have a case, we will help settle it outside of court or 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.

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.

Costs

We provide our medical negligence legal services on a 'no win, no fee'* basis. This means that you will only pay our professional fees if you receive a settlement or compensation. You won't be charged our fees if your claim is not pursued.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence, or malpractice, happens when treatment from a health service provider such as a hospital, doctor, dentist, pharmacist or allied health professional falls below an acceptable standard. Medicine is a complicated practice and health service providers are not expected to be perfect; sometimes medical treatment is unsuccessful and injuries can occur, but that doesn’t mean there’s been any negligence. Negligent treatment is much more than a simple, reasonable mishap or mistake.

Negligent treatment may involve the following:

  • failure to or delay in diagnosing a condition
  • failure to or delay in providing the appropriate treatment or referral for the condition
  • failure to perform surgery with reasonable care and skill
  • failure to report correctly on test results
  • failure to provide post-operative care with reasonable care and skill
  • making an existing medical condition worse.

Time limits do apply to medical negligence claims, so if you think you've experienced negligence or malpractice, contact Maurice Blackburn Lawyers today.

What are medical negligence claims?

Laws relating to medical negligence vary between states and territories, but generally Australian law allows a person to claim for compensation if they have suffered physical, psychological or financial harm as a result of negligent medical treatment. This is called a medical negligence claim.

To claim compensation, with the help of a lawyer, you need to prove:

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

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.

Even if you have received negligent treatment, you can’t make a compensation claim if you haven’t also suffered harm or injury because of the treatment. The law in some states also 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.

How do I make a medical negligence claim?

  • 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.
  • If we believe you should proceed further with your claim, we will then carry out an investigation of your case.
  • We will obtain your medical records and reports from your treating doctors, if appropriate, then get an independent medical expert's opinion.
  • We lodge your legal claim.
  • We keep you informed of progress along the way.
  • We represent you at mediation and settlement hearings.
  • If your case doesn’t settle, we represent you in court.

How much does a medical negligence claim cost?

We conduct medical negligence cases on a 'no win, no fee'* basis. This means you will only be charged for our work if the case is successful and you are awarded damages.

If proceedings are issued after investigating the claim and the 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. No fees are charged unless you receive a settlement or award of compensation. In most cases, disbursements (the out-of-pocket expenses that we pay to other people) must be paid whether you win or lose.

If, after carrying out the investigation, we believe that you should proceed with a claim, then we can offer you various options for obtaining compensation.

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

There are time limits for making a compensation claim, which vary between states and territories. In most jurisdictions you need to start legal action within three years of the injury. Time limits are different for a child and also vary between states. However, some legal processes have to occur much sooner than this, so it’s best to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Extensions of time limits are sometimes possible.

What other services can Maurice Blackburn provide?

Maurice Blackburn's dedicated medical negligence lawyers recognise that medical negligence can affect your life and the lives of your loved ones. We can help streamline your legal proceedings to make things easier.

As a national law firm, we'll fight for your rights and provide legal assistance in other areas if needed. For example, our superannuation and insurance claims experts can help with any claims you may be eligible to make through an insurance or superannuation policy.

Our employment lawyers can advise you about your work rights if you can no longer work as a result of the negligence, or if you may be able to return to work but need some help with your responsibilities.

Our Wills and estates lawyers can help you get your legal affairs in order, such as arranging for the drafting of a Will, or setting up powers of administration and advanced care directives.

Your lawyer can put you in touch with any of these experts and ensure you are cared for throughout the process.

No win, no fee*

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

Our fees and agreements

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