Health care professionals are required by law to take reasonable care when treating their patients. When a health professional fails to deliver proper treatment or when their actions depart from acceptable standards of medical care, a patient may be eligible for compensation.
Our specialist Melbourne medical negligence solicitors are ready to assist patients and their families in all types of medical negligence compensation claims against health care professionals, and private and public hospitals throughout Victoria.
Regardless of the nature of your experience, if you have suffered a life changing injury or the death of a loved one, talk with our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors about your legal options. Our lawyers can advise on all aspects of compensation claims, and can assist you in making an official complaint to the relevant government authority. Representation is also available for Coronial Inquests.
Contact our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors by calling our legal helpline, or by completing our online contact form. Initial consultations are free and confidential. Find out how our expert medical negligence lawyers can help you pursue your rights to compensation.
Types of Claims
Patients injured by a health care provider should seriously consider taking legal action. A “health care provider” can be almost anyone who provides medical care- hospitals, doctors, surgeons, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, midwives, psychologists, paramedics and others.
Examples of medical negligence claims that can be brought against health care providers include:
- Failure to diagnose cancers such as breast cancer, throat cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer.
- Hospital negligence involving incorrect triaging and misdiagnosis of a condition requiring emergency treatment.
- Failure to diagnose and timely treat heart attack, intracranial aneurysms, brain hemorrhage, and stroke.
- A busy emergency department may fail to run blood tests and order radiological scans such as x-rays or CT scan, that are required under expected standards of care. That failure to diagnose could mean an illness will go undetected and untreated.
- Sometimes a surgeon will cut into a nearby artery or organ by mistake.
- Failure to remove surgical instruments and swabs during surgery which can cause ongoing pain for many years up until removal.
- There have been cases of surgeons operating on the wrong site, for example amputating the wrong limb or removing the wrong breast.
- Antenatal misdiagnosis and failure to treat pregnancy complications.
- Ruptured uterus during labour.
- Child birth cases and complications of labour: mismanaged labour leading to fetal hypoxia, cerebral palsy, erb’s palsy.
- When a patient receives a full dose instead of a timed-release dose, or when 10 mg becomes 100 mg, or when a full-strength medication is given rather than the required diluted mixture.
- A doctor or pharmacist fails to notice an allergy notification. Such errors can be deadly.
- Failure to respond to a patient's complaints; failure to consider a patient's family medical history; failure to order necessary tests; misinterpretation of test results; failure to refer to a specialist.
- Lack of informed consent/failure to warn of material risks.
- Medical device errors and faulty products.
- Death that is the result of a hospital or doctor error, including failure to diagnose a life-threatening condition; death due to anaesthesia negligence and medication errors.
Emergency Department Negligence
Obstetric and Gynaecological Negligence
General Practitioner Negligence
Standard of Care
Medical Negligence claims in Victoria are governed by the Wrongs Act 1958 and the common law.
Section 58 of the Wrongs Act states that in a case involving an allegation of negligence against a person (the defendant) who holds himself or herself out as possessing a particular skill, the standard to be applied by a court in determining whether the defendant acted with due care is to be determined by reference to -
- what could reasonably be expected of a person possessing that skill; and
- the relevant circumstances at the date of the negligence and not later.
Section 59 states that a professional is not negligent in providing professional service if it is established that the professional acted in a manner that (at the time the service was provided) was widely accepted in Australia by a significant number of respected practitioners in the field (peer professional opinion) as competent professional practice in the circumstances. However, peer professional opinion cannot be relied on for the purposes of this section if the court determines that the opinion is unreasonable. If, a court determines peer professional opinion to be unreasonable, it must specify in writing the reasons for that determination.
If you can prove that there was a breach in the standard of care, and that this breach resulted in foreseeable damage (such as an injury, disability, death), then you could be entitled to an award of compensation for medical negligence.
If negligence can be proven, the plaintiff is entitled to claim compensation for their injuries, disabilities and loss. The majority of medical negligence claims settle out of court through negotiation or mediation. Where there are facts in dispute or where a settlement figure cannot be agreed to, litigation may be the last resort. Compensation can be claimed for:
- Loss of income. The Wrongs Act 1958 caps how much can be claimed.
- Out-of-pocket expenses for health care, medication and other aids.
- Cost of attendant care.
- Damages for loss of capacity to provide care for others.
- Non-economic loss (also known as general damages eg for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life). Non-economic loss is currently capped at $371 380. In determining damages for non-economic loss, a court may refer to earlier decisions of that or other courts for the purpose of establishing the appropriate award in the proceedings.
Strict time limits apply when it comes to lodging a compensation claim. In Victoria an adult has 3 years from the time of injury or medical negligence was (discoverable) to issue legal proceedings. Children have 6 years. Failure to commence legal action within the legal time frame may mean that your right to sue is lost.
In exceptional circumstances, a court can extend the time limit, but it really depends on the circumstances of each individual case as to whether an extension will be granted.
You should obtain legal advice about the applicable time limit in your case. Call our Melbourne medical negligence lawyers and solicitors for free legal advice as soon as possible. A delay in obtaining legal advice could prejudice your potential compensation claim.
Our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors are experienced in representing patients on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you will only be charged legal professional costs in the event you receive a compensation payout and no legal professional costs will be charged if the claim is not pursued after being investigated. Our Melbourne medical negligence solicitors will ensure that your matter is handled in a professional and efficient manner and that your compensation entitlements are maximised.
Our No Win No Fee solicitors offer a free initial consultation. If you have any questions, contact us via email or by submitting a Contact Form. Alternatively, call our freecall helpline to speak with a lawyer.^^ back to the top LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 08 7201 2069