At the beginning of January 2020, it was revealed that the NHS faced paying out up to £4.3 billion in outstanding medical negligence claims, with this emerging despite a marginal decline in the number of claims pursued recently.
The term ‘medical negligence’ covers a broad range of issues and incidents, while it’s commonly used interchangeably (and often erroneously) with ‘personal injury’.
But what are the precise meanings of these two terms, and how do they differ from a legal perspective?
What’s Medical Negligence and an Associated Claim?
One medical negligence claim can vary wildly from another, both in terms of its nature and the severity of the underlying case.
In general terms, however, a medical negligence claim may be pursued in instances where you, a loved one or a dependent has received negligent care under the supervision of a doctor, health clinic or hospital.
In most cases, you’ll have to demonstrate that you’ve experienced damage or loss as a direct result of such negligence, whether this manifests itself as a loss of earnings or long-term physical or mental damage.
OK, So What’s a Personal Injury Claim?
While medical negligence claims are limited to incidents that occur while claimants are under the care of a medical professional, personal injury cases are far broader in their scope and may occur in a more diverse range of different settings and industry.
With this type of claim, you’ll bring legal action against a company or individual who you believe is responsible for an accident, which has caused some form of injury, harm or loss of earnings.
This could cover everything from a slip at work to the collapse of shelving that wasn’t installed correctly, so long as you can demonstrate the impact of the accident and that someone else is legally responsible.
Usually, such claims are for smaller sums of compensation, while they’re often black and white in terms of blame and accountability.
What are the Main Differences Between These Two Types of Claim?
With both of these claim types, you’ll have to demonstrate that the subject of the legal action is ultimately culpable, while also showcasing the physical, mental and financial impact of the incident in question.
As we’ve already touched on, medical negligence claims tend to be more complex and involve increased amounts of compensation, whereas personal injury cases are a little more straightforward.
Because of this, a large percentage of medical negligence cases tend to be settled before they reach the courts, with those responsible usually looking to avoid drawn out court procedures and make a proactive offer of compensation.
Conversely, you’ll often have to pursue personal injury cases in court, although both types of claim will typically need you to seek out expert legal advice.