Medical Negligence FAQs

Can I make a medical negligence claim?
If you have suffered an adverse outcome as a result of treatment from a health professional or hospital, in Queensland or elsewhere, you may be entitled to compensation.  We can advise you in detail about your right to claim and your prospects of success.
 
In Queensland, a complaint can also be made to the Health Ombudsman.
 
Different rules can apply in other states and overseas – we can advise you about that.
 
How do I make a medical negligence claim?
Notice needs to be given to the relevant health professional or hospital.  Specialised medical evidence needs to be obtained about the circumstances of your treatment.
 
Strict time limits apply – you need to get expert advice now about the time limits which apply to you.
 
What can I claim in a medical negligence claim?
It is impossible even to estimate the amount of damages you might recover without knowing a lot more about you and your injuries. Damages you might recover include:
  • Medical and other out of pocket expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Care and assistance
  • Aids and equipment
  • Future treatment costs
 
You may also be entitled to make separate claims for additional insurance benefits such as income protection and total and permanent disablement benefits.  You will find more information about these claims under the Income Protection and Disablement claims section of this website.
 
Do I need a lawyer to make a medical negligence claim?
No, you can handle the claim yourself.
 
However, insurers have extensive experience in defending medical negligence claims and will usually instruct lawyers to act on their behalf.  Insurers cannot provide you with independent advice.  You may find yourself at a disadvantage if you do not have legal representation.
 
Will the insurer pay my legal costs in a medical negligence claim?
That depends on the amount of damages you recover.
 
Legislation in Queensland restricts the amount an insurer has to contribute towards your costs in a medical negligence claim – we will provide detailed advice about this. Even if the insurer is required to pay something towards your costs, it will not cover your entire costs. The difference will be paid from your settlement or judgment monies.  We will discuss this with you in detail.
 
How long will the medical negligence claim take?
This is impossible to say without knowing a lot more about you and your claim.  Some relevant factors include:
  • the severity and extent of your injuries – it is vital that your injuries be stable and stationary before any settlement negotiations commence – in Queensland, any damages you receive will be in full and final settlement of your claim.
  • whether the insurer disputes liability for your medical negligence claim.
  • your age – if a child is injured, it is sometimes best to wait for them to finish school and start work so that an accurate assessment of the impact of their injuries can be made.
 
Will I need to go to court for a medical negligence claim?
Queensland legislation requires that the claimant and the insurer attempt to reach a settlement before court proceedings are issued. Medical negligence claims are very rarely decided by a judge.  Even if proceedings are issued in court, claims usually settle before reaching trial.
 
How am I charged and how much do I have to pay to make a medical negligence claim?
If, after investigation of your claim, we think you have reasonable prospects of success, we will usually agree to act on a speculative basis. That means we will not charge for our professional fees unless and until your claim is successfully finalised.
 
We do require payment of any costs or outlays (eg. medico-legal reports from a specialist) incurred on your behalf, even if your claim is not successful.  We will not incur significant outlays without first discussing it with you.  An estimate of outlays will be provided in our Costs Agreement. 
 
Our costs will be reasonable – we will discuss them with you in detail before you instruct us to act on your behalf and will enter into a Costs Agreement with you.  We strongly recommend you seek independent legal advice about the Costs Agreement before you sign it.