If you go to receive medical care in the UK, then you have the right to a certain standard of care. This right isn’t just reserved for adults, either – children, too, are entitled to that same standard of care. When medical professionals and institutions fail to make the grade, they are often guilty of negligence – and they can be punished through the courts.
How are the Rules different for Children?
Probably the biggest difference between children and adults when it comes to medical negligence is that children are at risk of their development being compromised, which in some cases can ultimately lead to a more significant injury. Consequently, cases of this nature need to be more carefully assessed, and take into account the long-term effects that will be felt by the child.
Often, it’s impossible to say for certain what will happen to the child in the long-run. In these cases, the court won’t just make a best guess and draw a line under the matter. The claimant can instead be awarded interim payments, which will help to pay for any specialised care. Then, later, when the full effects of the negligence have become apparent, the matter can be fully settled.
There are also technical legal differences to consider. Damages are not paid out straight to children, but usually stored in a safe place until the child turns eighteen. Moreover, the time limit for starting a medical negligence claim, which is usually three years from the date on which you become aware of the injury, is actually three years from the child’s eighteenth birthday. This rule is designed to insure that the child does not go unprotected out of ignorance.
What should I do if I Suspect Negligence?
If you suspect that your child has suffered from medical negligence, then your first step should be to speak to the person (or persons) responsible, and ask them to explain the situation to you. If that fails to convince you, then you might seek a second opinion.
Bear in mind that it isn’t just individuals who can be found guilty of medical negligence; entire organisations, like the NHS, can also be targeted. In fact, it’s written into the NHS constitution that everyone who uses the organisation has the right to pursue claims of this sort when things go wrong.
Your next step should be to contact a specialist solicitor with expertise in medical and professional negligence. Bearing in the mind the time limits, it’s vital that you take this step as soon as possible.
To give any future claim the best possible chance of success, it’s vital that you collect as much evidence as possible along the way – including any paperwork, and the dates and times of any procedures carried out.