Injuries made worse by hospital negligence
From time to time, situations arise when a Claimant is injured in an accident, such as a road accident or an accident at work and then it is suggested that their recovery is not as good as it should be or possibly made worse because the Claimant did not get the best treatment.
If the cause of the original injury is not the fault of anyone, such as in the case of an injury which occurs when out jogging or playing football in the park, then, if the hospital has been negligent, a claim can be made against the hospital for their negligence.
But what happens if there is an accident at work or a road traffic accident which is the fault of someone against whom the client wishes to claim but then the client’s injuries are made worse or do not recover as well as they should due to the fault of the hospital? Is there a second claim to be made?
This situation arises surprisingly often, and it is not hard to understand why. Our hospitals do a great job of providing care in the acute stage, often starting with the paramedics saving the lives of our clients and getting them to hospital for urgent treatment. However, things can go wrong. There are major pressures on hospitals and doctors are busy. A busy doctor might decide that an X-Ray is not necessary and send the client home. A busy radiologist might miss a fracture and the client might be sent home with the wrong advice, trying to walk on a leg that was fractured which can result in permanent damage that could have been avoided.
Levenes have acted in many of these cases. Tim Beasley, Head of Catastrophic Injury at Levenes recalls a case where a client was a passenger in a bus which was hit by a van. She felt some neck pain and went to hospital, where, after a scan was done, the hospital thought she had a much more severe neck injury, and as a result of that the doctors drilled in to her skull to fit metal rods to support a halo jacket. It was some weeks later that they realised that this was not such a bad injury, but only after the client had gone through weeks of great pain and anxiety.
The bus company tried to blame the hospital but got nowhere with that.
In these cases, we are often asked if a second claim should be made. The general answer is no – if the first claim is good, there is no need to add the hospital as a new defendant. The reason for this is that you can predict that in some cases the recovery of the injured person might not be as good as it should be. That might be due to negligence or not, but the court takes the view that it was the person who caused the original accident who was responsible for putting him or her in the position of even needing treatment in the first place. Only if there is gross negligence – really serious negligence – does the court say that the person who caused the accident is not liable after that negligence. Then the hospital is liable for what happened as a result of the gross negligence. Those situations are rare and extreme. A defendant who thinks that the hospital has made things worse, can ask the hospital to contribute to the compensation award but the claimant does not have to sue the hospital as well.
We advise not to bring a claim against a hospital unless it is necessary. The Claimant does not get extra damages for winning two claims and all that happens is that costs are incurred which helps nobody. If, however, it is suggested that the hospital was grossly negligent, then a claim should be made.
Legal help for serious injury
Our specialised lawyers can help accident victims recover their compensation. You will need expert advice on what actions can be taken to obtain accident compensation. You can trust the experience and expertise of our team of professional serious injury solicitors to win the maximum amount you are entitled to.