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Medical negligence claims & compensation

Have you or a member of your family suffered an injury due to mistakes made during medical treatment? Our specialist medical negligence solicitors can advise if you are eligible to make a compensation claim and will fully explain the process to you during your free consultation.

We offer a no win, no fee policy for medical negligence claims. If you think you have a case, get in touch with a member of our team today. We’ll take time to learn about your situation and talk you through the process.


What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence is caused by unacceptable clinical treatment, resulting in unnecessary illness, injury or death. Healthcare providers have a duty to deliver acceptable levels of care and treatment to their patients. A failure to do so that results in injury means the patient can bring a medical negligence compensation claim.

What is classed as medical negligence?

Medical negligence unfortunately occurs in many different ways. If you believe you deserve compensation for any of the following, our medical negligence lawyers will give you a free consultation and assess your claim.

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Surgical negligence
  • Anaesthetic negligence
  • Negligent management of long term or chronic conditions
  • Negligent pre-treatment advice
  • Negligent management of pregnancy and delivery
  • Dental negligence

How do you prove a medical negligence case?

To succeed in a medical negligence claim, we need to prove that:

  • The doctor or other healthcare professional had a duty to take care of the patient
  • There was a breach of that duty to take care
  • That breach of duty caused harm to the patient
  • Damage or other losses resulted from that harm

It is usually straightforward to show that a medical practitioner owed a duty of care to a patient. To establish whether there was a breach of that duty, it is necessary to show that the healthcare professional’s actions fell below a minimum standard of a reasonably competent equivalent in that particular field.

In addition to proving they failed to meet the relevant standard of care, we must also establish that this failure either directly caused the injuries alleged or significantly contributed to them.

The specialist medical negligence solicitors at Hugh James can provide advice and guidance regarding whether these criteria are satisfied in your case.

We will give you an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of your potential claim following an initial free assessment.

What is the average payout for medical negligence claims in the UK?

Payouts depend on your circumstances and the severity of your injury as a result of medical negligence. This can vary between individuals, but our specialist team of medical negligence solicitors will do their best to ensure you and your family receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Compensation will include an award for the pain and suffering caused by your illness, which is also known as “general damages”. In addition, medical negligence compensation can also be claimed in respect of care needs, financial losses, medical care and treatment. This is known as “special damages”.

The Judicial College Guidelines help us determine the amount of compensation that could be available to you.

How long do medical negligence compensation claims take?

Many factors affect a clinical negligence compensation claim and this makes it difficult to give an exact timescale. The time it takes to settle your claim could be affected by:

  • How long it takes to collate all the necessary evidence
  • Whether the allegations of negligence are admitted
  • The nature of your injury

It is important to consider all these factors, as our specialist medical negligence solicitors need to evaluate the true impact of your injury when calculating your compensation.

How can a specialist medical negligence solicitor help?

We have specialists who can help you investigate and pursue your case if they believe you have a chance of winning. We offer:

  • Free initial advice and guidance
  • No win, no fee claims when appropriate
  • Access to expert advice and reports on your claim
  • Access to financial, welfare and benefits advice
  • Access to leading barristers based nationally
  • Access to ongoing clinical rehabilitation/treatment

Why choose us for your medical negligence claim?

Our medical negligence solicitors have been top-ranked by both the Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 independent legal guides for this area of the law. We are the only top-ranked firm in both directories for medical negligence in Wales and one of the largest practices in the UK. Our lawyers are highly experienced and can provide a wide range of professional services.

Medical negligence claims can be difficult to prove, so it is vital to have understanding and dedicated solicitors on your side to assist you through the process. They will try to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled to.

  • Hugh James is one of the leading injury compensation claim firms for medical negligence in England and Wales.
  • Per annum, we recover over £30 million in medical negligence compensation for our clients.
  • We have offices in LondonCardiffSouthamptonManchester and Plymouth and can represent clients without the need for lengthy face-to-face meetings.
  • We have a range of qualified staff, including a former midwife, qualified nurse executives, welfare benefits advisors, medical records officers and qualified social workers to ensure your case has the best possible chance of success.
  • We can advise you on all aspects of your medical negligence claim, which includes social services involvement, financial advice and rehabilitation.
  • We are accredited by medical negligence charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).
  • Find out about our firm or check out our Trustpilot reviews for further peace of mind.

An award-winning team of medical negligence solicitors

Hugh James was named the Clinical Negligence Team of the Year for the second time in succession at the 2020 Personal Injury Awards. The recognition came after a landmark win in the first clinical negligence trial to take place in person during lockdown.

Head of Division Stephen Webber was also named Clinical Negligence Lawyer of the Year, with judges describing him as a “technically gifted lawyer” who “stood out” for contributing “so much to the personal injury sector”.

We were again shortlisted for the Clinical Negligence Team of the Year award in 2021.

Key contact

Ruth Powell


Ruth is a Partner and Head of our Clinical Negligence Department. She has exclusively practised in clinical negligence since qualifying in 1995 and has a wealth of experience in complex and high value clinical negligence claims.

You have always been clear with your advice, prompt with your responses and sensitive in dealing with what is of course a stressful business. I will not hesitate to recommend your firm’s services in future, and please accept my thanks for an excellent service from a first class solicitor.


I consulted Hugh James after being disappointed by the advice I received from my former solicitor. The team at Hugh James were very professional and had reassured me that there was merit in my claim. They did everything possible to assist me during this difficult period, thank you


Overwhelming level of involvement and detail.

The Legal 500

Dogged and indefatigable work ethic.

The Legal 500

Hugh James is a highly professional firm inspiring confidence to attract clients to use their services. Navigating a clinical negligence claim requires sensitivity, competence and professionalism which Hugh James provided for us to make informed decisions.

The Legal 500

Extremely cohesive team with experienced practitioners and a real ‘down to earth’ approach.

The Legal 500

Hugh James are particularly strong in clinical negligence and inquest work.

The Legal 500

They are excellent and offer a first-class service.

Chambers & Partners

They show efficient and clear communication and have a good grasp of the specialised medical issues.

Chambers & Partners

They are kind, thoughtful, consummate professionals. They execute their work extremely diligently with a high degree of compassion for the client.

Chambers & Partners

They provide a very responsive service and we find them an enormous support.

Chambers & Partners

A huge, experienced team covering all manner of claims. The solicitors are efficient and work very hard – a very polished, all-round firm.

Chambers & Partners

It is a leading firm in this area in Wales.

Chambers & Partners

Kevin’s story

Kevin sustained a severe brain injury resulting from a delayed diagnosis and surgery for an abscess mistaken as a brain tumour. Despite presenting with symptoms indicating neurological distress, including confusion and reduced mobility, medical professionals initially misdiagnosed his condition.

Following a rushed neuro-oncology meeting, Kevin’s deteriorating condition was overlooked by medical staff, and it was only after a rapid decline that further scans revealed the worsening tumour. Despite efforts to stabilize him, a delay in surgery resulted in irreversible neurological damage.

Kevin’s injuries left him with impaired mobility, memory, concentration, speech changes, and epilepsy. While his case was initially valued at over £1 million due to ongoing care needs, his untimely passing led to a settlement of £35,000 for his estate.

Read more about Kevin’s story here.

Lesley Herbertson who acted for Kevin said:

Kevin suffered a brain injury which could clearly have been avoided if only the specialists reviewing the scans had taken time to review them properly and objectively, rather than relying on an assumed but not yet verified diagnosis. It was very sad that Kevin passed away so soon after suffering his brain injury as a result of a related illness and before we had any time to put in place for him the level of additional non-family support and therapy that he needed.

View More Stories

Your questions answered

Any compensation aims to improve your quality of life, whether this pays for specialist care or home adaptations. Our goal is to get you back to normality as quickly as possible. That is why we put our client’s health at the forefront of our mind when dealing with your medical negligence claim.

We will look at the compensation for your injuries as well as the financial losses you have suffered as a result of medical negligence. Compensation is made up of general and special damages.

General damages

General damages compensate you for the injury itself; the pain and suffering and loss of quality of life that has been caused by the medical negligence, past present and future.

To accurately advise you about the level of general damages you may be awarded, we will arrange for specialist reports to be obtained from various leading medical and legal authorities. They will examine you and have access to your medical records and be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and prognosis within their report. Once this evidence is in place, we will be able to notify you of how much we think your claim is going to be worth.

Special damages

Special damages are designed to compensate you for any past or future financial losses you have incurred or will incur as a direct result of the medical negligence that caused your injuries. In other words, money lost, or money spent as a result of the negligence.

Past losses include:

  • Private medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Prescription charges/medication
  • The purchase of aids and appliances
  • Loss of earnings
  • Travel expenses
  • Care costs
  • Personal belongings and clothing damaged in the accident
  • Housing adaptations

Future losses can include:

  • Future loss of earnings
  • Loss of pension
  • Accommodation costs
  • Future private medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Care costs
  • Aids and appliances

This list is not exhaustive, and we will carefully consider your situation to anticipate your potential future needs.

We suggest you start to keep a list of things you have had to pay for as a direct result of any injury caused by the negligence. We will need to prove the financial losses and documentary evidence such as wage slips, receipts and invoices will help. In addition, it may also be sensible to keep a log or brief diary of daily problems you encounter as this will help us prepare comprehensive witness statements.

Our specialist medical negligence solicitors will be able to guide you through the claims process if you have been injured by a healthcare professional.

You will be able to claim on behalf of someone else in certain circumstances. These include:

Claims for people without mental capacity

If someone is unable to manage their affairs or has trouble making a sensible decision about their finances, you will be able to claim on their behalf.

Claims on behalf of children

If a child or a young adult under the age of 18 has been injured as a result of medical negligence, you can claim on their behalf. In these instances, you will be appointed as a litigation friend. This is often a parent or guardian, and you will have to show that you have the child’s best interest and act fairly.

If compensation is awarded to the child, this will normally be paid to the court and put in an investment account so it can be accessed when the child turns 18. When small amounts of money are involved, this is usually paid to you as the litigation friend.

Fatal negligence claims

The death of a loved one is an extremely difficult and challenging time. Making a medical negligence claim will be the last thing on your mind. But if you have suffered financial loss and ongoing financial problems as a result of the death, a solicitor may be able to help.

You should consider:

  • The financial impact
  • The psychological implications to you and your family as a result of the death
  • Whether seeking professional support or counselling will be of any benefit

Time limits are in place for this area of law. These can be complex and varied, but the general limit is three years from the date the injury happened, or the illness was diagnosed.

If you would like further information about making a fatal medical negligence claim, contact our team of expert solicitors for a free, no-obligation consultation.

We will arrange a free initial consultation to discuss your case. We will advise you thereafter whether we feel you have a potential medical negligence claim.

The usual first step in pursuing a medical negligence claim is to obtain medical records. After that, input from a medical expert is likely to be required to assess whether the treatment provided fell below a minimum standard of care. Depending on the outcome of the initial assessment by the expert, you may need to attend an appointment to be examined.

Expert evidence will assist us in determining the strength of the medical negligence claim and the allegations of negligence that can be put to the healthcare professionals responsible.

Depending on the injury suffered, we will obtain evidence about your care needs to ensure that any rehabilitation costs, home adaptations or future treatments are fully considered and included as part of your claim.

The process can be quite lengthy depending on the complexities involved with the case and the nature of the particular injury.

While we will make every effort to resolve the claim outside of court, you may have to attend court if a resolution is not reached.

Even if court proceedings are initiated, this does not automatically mean your medical negligence claim will go to trial. The claim may still be resolved before this. If you do have to attend court, we will be on hand to assist and support you every step of the way to ensure you are prepared and comfortable with the process.

Personal injury and medical negligence cases are subject to time limits. It is best to contact a solicitor as early as possible to ensure your case can be dealt with.

Generally, the time limit for a medical negligence case is three years from the date the treatment took place or the date you were made aware something had gone wrong. While this likely means you cannot claim for medical negligence after 20 years, the rules can be extremely complicated and varied. A lawyer will be able to check which time limit applies to you after some initial investigations.

If a child suffers negligent care, a claim can be made at any point until their 18th birthday. The three-year time limit for them to claim themselves then begins.

If a claim is brought on behalf of someone who does not have mental capacity, the three-year time limit does not apply. If mental capacity is regained, however, the three-year period will start at this time.

We will discuss the time limits with you during our initial consultation.

We will provide you with our free initial opinion about your claim. After our assessment, we will tell you whether you have a reasonable chance of success, and you can instruct us to act on your behalf.

If you choose to instruct us, we could be able to offer you a no win, no fee agreement. This means you won’t be charged legal fees if you are unsuccessful. If your claim is successful, medical negligence compensation will be awarded to you. A success fee will be deducted from this. All other legal fees will be covered by the defendant should the case be successful.

All the financial information will be discussed with you, free of charge, before you decide to instruct us.

Only a small percentage of medical negligence claims will proceed to trial. Of the 15,674 claims settled by NHS Resolution in 2020/21, only 56 (0.3%) required a formal trial. Despite this, we prepare every case in-depth to make sure we are ready should it go to court.

The medical negligence system is geared towards encouraging parties to be open with each other so that any compensation claims can be settled without the need for going to court. This can save on both time and costs.

A lot of people are naturally nervous and uncomfortable about going to court. We understand this and will advise you every step of the way should your case reach a trial.

Next steps

We’re here to get things moving. Drop a message to one of our experts and we’ll get straight back to you.

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