What is medical negligence?
The care you receive from your doctor, nurse, hospital or other health care agency can have a very significant impact on your health and wellbeing.
Generally Australia has a high standard of health care and most of us are lucky enough to always receive good care.
Sometimes, however, poor medical treatment can cause or worsen injuries.
A medical negligence claim may arise if a lack of care and skill in the performance of medical treatment has caused an injury or bad outcome. This can also be called a ‘medical malpractice’ claim.
Of course, not all bad outcomes are due to negligent treatment. Sometimes the best medical treatment cannot prevent illness or injury.
Do I have a claim?
To determine if you have a claim in medical negligence, you must be able to prove three important things;
- that the treatment you received showed a less than reasonable level of care, skill and expertise;
- that you have suffered some injury or damage; and
- that the lack of reasonable care taken was the cause of your injury or damage.
How long do I have to make a claim?
Across Australia time limits apply to your right to bring a claim in negligence. If you think you may have a claim or you have an inquiry about the treatment you have received, you should contact our medical negligence lawyers as soon as possible. Medical negligence is a particularly complex area of law and any potential claim must be investigated thoroughly. To avoid losing your right to sue for damages, you and your lawyer must act quickly.
What happens if I win a medical negligence claim?
If you can prove that your injury was caused by negligent treatment, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Compensation for negligence is intended to reimburse you for the costs of your injury. It is not intended to punish the negligent party. The amount of money awarded in compensation reflects the level of pain and loss suffered, not the nature of the negligent treatment.
Compensation may be paid for:
- general damages for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life;
- the cost of medical expenses and treatment arising from your injury;
- the lost wages and income caused by the injury; and
in some cases you may be able to receive compensation for the care provided to you by family or friends, even when that care was provided at no charge.
Additional lump sum benefit
Many superannuation funds provide coverage for a disability insurance benefit, often referred to as a Total Permanent Disability (TPD) benefit. This insurance cover, if provided under your superannuation, is a benefit additional to the contributions that you and/or your employer have made to your superannuation fund during the period of your membership. Most people are unaware or forget that this insurance cover is in place.
Depending on the terms of the insurance cover, a TPD benefit may be significant and may help ease the financial burden you face during the difficult times that follow a disability.
Generally it does not matter how your injury or illness came about; just that you are suffering from a total and permanent disability or illness. Many people on workers’ compensation, motor vehicle injury compensation or the Centerlink Disability Support Pension can claim as well as people who suffer an unexpected illness that prevents them from working.
Whether you can make a claim for a superannuation disability benefit will depend on a number of factors - particularly, whether this insurance cover is provided under your superannuation.
If you suffer from any injury or illness that prevents you from working in your normal occupation and would like more information about how Slater & Gordon can help you, please contact us by submitting the form below or by calling us on 1800 555 777. A member from our New Client Services team will be happy to assist you.