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Medical Negligence Claims

The Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) applies to claims for personal injuries arising out of negligent medical services in Queensland. This legislation is known in the legal industry as PIPA.

You may have a claim for compensation if you’ve suffered injury or complications as a direct consequence of the negligence of a health professional either in a hospital, medical clinic or elsewhere.

These claims are not easy as there are so many variables involved when it comes to medicine. However, you are entitled to expect that when you place yourself in the hands of a health professional, that they exercise the necessary care when treating you.

These cases often are complex and expensive to run. Highly skilled legal representation and specialist medical opinion is essential.

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Starting a Claim for Medical Negligence in Queensland

Under the requirements of PIPA, to commence a claim for medical negligence, an initial notice must first be completed and served on the at-fault medical provider within 9 months of the medical incident. If more time has passed, a reasonable excuse for the delay must be provided.

The initial notice must state that it is given under Section 9A of PIPA, and typically contain the following information:

  • the claimant’s full name and address;
  • any other name by which the claimant is known or has been known;
  • if the initial notice is given by the claimant’s parent or legal guardian, the parent’s or guardian’s name;
  • the claimant’s date of birth;
  • a description of the medical services alleged to have given rise to the personal injury;
  • if known, the name of the doctor who provided the medical services;
  • the date or dates when the medical services were provided;
  • the place or places at which the medical services were provided;
  • a description of the personal injury alleged to have been suffered.

Following the initial notice, a further claim form must be completed, known as a Part 1 Notice.

The Part 1 Notice must include a written report from another medical specialist, competent to assess the medical incident alleged to have given rise to the personal injury, stating, in the medical specialist’s opinion:

  • that there was a failure to meet an appropriate standard of care in providing medical services; and
  • the reasons justifying the opinion; and
  • that as a result of the failure, the claimant suffered personal injury; and

Often, these medical specialist opinions can require complex considerations by very experienced doctors and are therefore very expensive. It’s not unheard of for such a report to cost $5,000 – $10,000. Some law firms require that this outlay be paid for by the claimant directly before considering the claim.

It’s important to consult with a legal professional who has a focus on personal injury and medical negligence claims in Queensland to understand the specific requirements, timeframes, and procedures associated with commencing claims appropriately, as well as to navigate the overall legal process effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will you run my claim No Win No Fee?

Maybe. Roche Legal only offers No Win No Fee representation to those with a qualifying medical negligence claim.

Medical negligence claims require proof of negligence at the outset of the claim. This proof must come in the form of a report from another doctor similarly experienced and qualified to perform the medical service in question. It is very expensive to obtain expert reports to confirm that your doctor made a mistake and many times it is discovered that the original doctor was not actually negligent.

If it is not clear and obvious (such as a doctor operating on your Left leg when he was supposed to operate on your Right leg) then we require you to cover the cost of your own initial medical opinion to support your claim. If the expert opinion supports your case, we will be able to consider offering you our No Win No Fee representation.

Contact us for a free initial consultation. We have offices in Brisbane, Springwood, and the Sunshine Coast.

Do I have a claim for compensation?

Maybe. To be able to bring a medical negligence claim, you must be able to prove that the medical services provided to you were negligent. You cannot win a claim simply because a complication arose from a surgical procedure that was always an inherent risk to having the procedure performed.

You must show that the medical treatment you received was not adequate or wrong to the point that:

  • the medical services supplies constitutes negligence; and
  • you have suffered a loss as a result that you would not otherwise have suffered.

Before contacting a solicitor, be aware that it’s not viable to bring a claim for medical negligence if:

  • the correct medical procedure was followed, but you were unfortunate enough to suffer a complication as one of the known inherent risks of the procedure; or
  • you haven’t suffered any material loss but are simply unhappy with the way you were treated by the hospital or the medical professional.

If you are simply unhappy that a hospital has not treated you or your loved one with respect or courtesy, you are able to raise a complaint with the Office of the Health Ombudsman.

Who can I bring a claim against?

A claim is brought against the medical health professional and/or the organisation that provided or facilitated the medical service. Their medical indemnity insurer will then defend the claim on their behalf.

What can I claim compensation for?

This depends upon your circumstances but may include damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of life expectancy
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Paid or unpaid help from family, friends or other third parties
  • Past and future medical and rehabilitation costs

What has to be proven for my claim to be successful?

Typically, three things need to be established to make a claim:

  1. The treatment provided did not meet Australian standards.
  2. The inadequate treatment caused you physical or psychological pain and suffering or injury.
  3. The resulting harm was a direct result of the negligence of the treatment provider.

Negligence will be present when the medical treatment does not reach the standard of care reasonably expected from a health professional.

It will usually be determined by comparing the treatment or lack of treatment with that provided by another reasonable health professional in the same area of practice. This will require obtaining one or more medical expert’s opinion confirming that in their view the conduct of the health professional or organisation was negligent.

Are there any important time limits to bring a claim?

Yes. You have three (3) years within which to file court proceedings to claim compensation.

The three years may begin from the date the:

  • the negligent medical treatment took place; or
  • the negligence was discovered; or
  • you found out about the injuries caused as a result of the negligent actions or inactions of the medical health professional or organisation.

Who pays me the compensation?

The professional indemnity insurer of the health professional or the organisation at fault.

How much compensation can I claim?

This is impossible to say without a thorough investigation of your claim.

How long does a claim for compensation take?

Again, this is impossible to answer until we understand how simple or complex your claim is. Once all the facts are obtained, we will be in a better position to be able to advise you.

Can I make a claim as a beneficiary or dependant if the injured person has passed away?

Yes, provided the estate can prove that the injured person’s death was caused by medical negligence. However, it needs to be understood that the compensation that might be claimed will be less than if the deceased was alive. This is because the estate cannot claim damages for pain and suffering as death ends such suffering. Any claim for future entitlements also dies with the patient.

Damages are limited to past loss e.g.:

  • past loss of wages
  • past medical expenses
  • past unpaid or paid care from family members, friends or third parties

However, a parent, spouse, partner, child or grandchild may be able to make a claim for mental harm if they can show that they have suffered a psychiatric illness as a consequence of the death of the deceased.

A dependency claim may also be possible for the likes of spouses or children if they are financially dependent on the deceased.  Dependency is assessed based on the extent of the financial dependency of the spouse or children of the deceased, the loss of services that the family experiences as a result of the deceased’s death and in the case of children, loss of care and guidance.

This commentary is published by Roche Legal for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as specific advice. The content relates to Queensland law only and is subject to change over time. You should seek legal advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any decision.