Medical Negligence Injury Claims in Perth, Western Australia
Medical negligence, which is also commonly referred to as medical malpractice, occurs when a healthcare professional's actions or omissions breach their duty of care, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. The consequences of medical negligence can be severe and life-altering, leading to physical, emotional, and financial distress.
In Western Australia, victims of medical negligence have the right to seek compensation for their injuries. This article provides a comprehensive guide to medical negligence injury claims in Western Australia, helping you understand the legal process and maximise your chances of receiving fair compensation.
I. Understanding Medical Negligence
Medical negligence claims arise when a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or dentist, fails to provide treatment or care in accordance with the accepted standards of their profession. This can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare management.
To succeed in a medical negligence claim, the injured patient must prove that:
The healthcare professional owed the patient a duty of care;
The healthcare professional through his/her negligent actions or inaction breached the duty of care he/she owed to the patient; and
The healthcare professional's negligence (breach of duty of care) caused the patient's injury, harm and loss.
II. The Legal Process for Medical Negligence Injury Claims
A. Gathering of evidence and attempt to resolve the claim informally
Before commencing legal proceedings, the injured person will gather evidence and submit a claim to the at fault party in the hope of resolving the claim cost effectively and expeditiously.
B. Commencing legal proceedings
If the parties are unable to resolve the claim, the injured patient may commence legal proceedings by filing a Writ of Summons with Indorsement of Claim or Statement of Claim in the District Court of Western Australia.
C. Time limits for medical negligence claims
In Western Australia, medical negligence claims must be commenced within three years from the date of the alleged negligence or the date when the injured patient becomes aware of their injury. In certain circumstances, the court may grant an extension of time.
We would nevertheless recommend that proceedings be commenced in the District Court of Western Australia well in advance of the date on which the claim would become statute barred. In that regard, claimants should be aware that a solicitor might require at least 2 to 3 weeks to be able to meet with the claimant, gather the required information and documentation, and prepare and file the Writ of Summons with Indorsement of Claim or Statement of Claim with the District Court of Western Australia.
III. Types of Damages Available in Medical Negligence Claims
In a medical negligence claim, the injured patient may seek the following types of damages:
General damages: compensation for loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and loss of amenities.
Loss of earnings: Compensation for past loss of income and future loss of earning capacity.
The cost of the past and future medical treatment required by the patient for his/her accident-related injuries.
Gratuitous services: Monetary compensation in lieu of paid domestic services and unpaid gratuitous assistance provided to the claimant by his/her family and friends.
IV. Guidance to Help you Achieve an Excellent Medical Negligence Injury Claim Outcome
A successful medical negligence claim requires careful planning and execution. Here Are some tips to help maximise your chances of receiving fair compensation:
Keep records: Maintain detailed records of all relevant documents, such as medical reports, prescriptions, correspondence with healthcare providers, and receipts for expenses.
Seek a second opinion: If you suspect that you have been a victim of medical negligence, obtain a second opinion from another healthcare professional to help confirm your suspicions and in the hope of obtaining additional supportive evidence for your claim.
Consult an experienced medical negligence lawyer: Engage the services of a qualified lawyer who specialises in medical negligence claims in Western Australia. They can help you navigate the complex legal process, gather the requisite evidence, quantify appropriate damages and in negotiations with your opponent and their legal representatives.
Act promptly: This will ensure you cannot be criticised for failing to mitigate your losses.
Obtain expert opinions: Medical negligence claims often rely on the testimony of expert witnesses to establish the standard of care and the breach by the healthcare professional. Your lawyer can help you engage appropriate experts to support your claim.
Be patient and persistent: Medical negligence claims can be a protracted and challenging process. Therefore, do your best to remain patient, follow your lawyer's advice, be prepared for setbacks and delays and try to focus on your recovery from your injuries.
V. Public Liability Insurance and Medical Negligence Claims
Most healthcare professionals in Western Australia are required to hold public liability insurance, which covers them in the event of a medical negligence claim. This means that when you make a claim for compensation, it is usually the healthcare professional's insurer who will pay the damages. The involvement of insurance companies can make the claims process more complex, but it also ensures that there are sufficient funds available to compensate an injured patient and their medical negligence injury claim.