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How much medical negligence compensation can I receive?

If you or a member of your family have sustained an injury or have endured physical suffering because of a mistake during a medical procedure, you may be wondering how much you can claim for medical negligence.

If you think you are eligible to make a compensation claim, get in touch with our team of specialists today. We offer a no win, no fee policy for all medical negligence claims, and we’ll be on hand to support and talk through the entire claims process during your free consultation.

In this section of the guide you can read about:

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence, often referred to as clinical negligence, is when a medical professional’s care falls below the expected standards. It’s when they fail to fulfil their duty of care, leading to pain, injury or other complications suffered by the patient involved.

The effects of medical negligence can vary, from minor injuries to severe health issues and fatalities. If you have experienced the devastation that medical negligence can cause, we can help you claim for the compensation and justice you deserve.

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

At Hugh James, we treat every individual claim on a case-by-case basis. This means that the payouts for medical negligence will differ, as the compensation amount you receive is dependent on several factors.

These include the severity of the injury sustained because of the negligence, the estimated time for recovery, costs for any medical treatment required, and any financial losses experienced by the claimant.

According to the NHS Resolution, the average payout for medical negligence in the UK is estimated to be around £50,000. However, compensation can range anywhere between £1,000 to millions of pounds, depending on the severity of your case.

How much can I sue for medical negligence?

The compensation you receive should improve the quality of your life and cover any costs that you’ve incurred since the negligent treatment. This includes:

General damages

This is compensation for the injury you have sustained. It covers any pain, suffering or loss of quality of life caused by the negligence. The level of compensation you receive for general damages will be determined by the severity and longevity of your injury, following a thorough assessment from an independent medical expert.

Special damages

Special damages are designed to reimburse you for any past or future financial losses incurred as a result of your injury.

Past losses include:

  • Private medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Prescription charges/medication
  • The purchase of aids and appliances
  • Loss of earnings
  • Travel expenses
  • Care costs (including gratuitous care provided by friends and family)
  • Housing adaptations
  • Future losses can include:
  • Future loss of earnings
  • Loss of pension
  • Accommodation costs
  • Future private medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Aids and appliances
  • Care costs (including gratuitous care provided by friends and family)

It’s important to note that these lists are not exhaustive and that other costs that you believe are connected to your injury will be assessed by our experts when you instruct us.

The best way to ensure you recover all your financial losses is to keep a copy of all relevant receipts and invoices so that we can prove what you purchased and how much you spent. We will then use this evidence to try to get you the maximum compensation possible.

How much compensation is received for death by medical negligence?

Claims can be brought by the estate of someone who has died. They can also be brought by a dependent of the person who has died if different. However it is important to note that only one claim can be brought, and that must encompass all of the losses.

The estate is able to claim for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused prior to the death. A claim can also be made for the financial losses that that person sustained.

There are additional losses that can be brought, and these include:

  • A claim for statutory bereavement, which is payable to a surviving spouse or the parents of a child under the age of 18. The sum is set by Parliament, and increases from time-to-time. As of 1 May 2020 it was £15,120.00.
  • Reimbursement of funeral expenses.
  • Where the person who died was providing care or services to another person, then it is possible to make a claim for that loss of service.
  • Where there was an expectation of financial support for a person, then it is possible to make a claim for loss of financial dependency.

There are many intricacies arising out of claims where someone had died, and a specialist firm of solicitors like Hugh James will be able to provide you with more in depth guidance about the sort of losses that may be claimable in a particular set of circumstances.

Is medical negligence compensation taxable?

No, compensation for personal injury claims is not taxable. The reason for this is that most tax is based on earnings or income.

However please be mindful that receipt of an award of damages can impact on means tested benefits received now, or in the future. Nevertheless it is possible to avoid this scenario by putting in place a personal injury trust.

What should I do before making a claim?

It can often be difficult to understand what has happened, and why it has happened. Discuss with your treating doctor and/or GP what has happened and of any concerns had. They may be able to explain things to you. If you do not understand then you should ask.

It can sometimes be helpful to ask the treating doctor to outline what has been discussed in a letter to be sent to you and your GP.

If you are not satisfied with the treatment received then the option is there for you to make a complaint to the treatment provider. Every treatment provided has a complaints process, that should be identifiable from their website. Organisations like PALS can assist with making a complaint.

It is important to keep documentation relating to any expenses that are incurred, and that may be relevant evidence. Furthermore a great deal of weight is place by the court on evidence created close to the time of an event. We recommend that a journal is made outlining discussions had with doctors, treatment and any other relevant factors. This will be helpful in recollecting what has happened.

How do I make a successful medical negligence claim?

The cause of your injury or illness can vary, depending on the negligence that has taken place. To make a successful medical negligence claim, you’ll need to prove that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. Or you need to prove that the negligence caused something to go wrong, or as a direct result of the negligence, you sustained an injury.

It’s rare that a medical negligence claim will end up in court, but should the defendant not agree to accept fault, our solicitors will represent you and a judge will decide the outcome of the case.

We have experience dealing with cases where liability was denied, and we aim to do everything we can to win your claim. We’re here to fully support you throughout the process and are always on hand for any questions you may have.

How much compensation can I get for medical negligence?

Before you start to think, “How much can I claim for medical negligence?”, assess whether you have a case to make. It can be difficult to know for sure that you have suffered an injury or an illness because of a professional’s poor-quality service and treatment, especially as we put our trust into these qualified individuals.

There are a few considerations that can help you decide if you have a medical negligence claim. Both you and your solicitor will need to demonstrate breach of duty and causation.

Breach of duty

The first of the two stage test that needs to be satisfied to prove a claim for clinical negligence is breach of duty. To succeed it has to be proven that no body of reasonably competent doctors, specialising in the field of medicine that was treating the injured person, would have acted in the same way.

As this is a question of how a medical professional should have acted, any criticism would have to be supported by an independent expert.


The second part of the two-stage test is referred to as causation. Essentially it has to be proven that a breach of duty identified has caused some additional harm or injury that would not have otherwise been suffered. Normally an independent expert will be needed to support the causation aspect of the legal test. This expert may be different to the expert needed for breach of duty.

Who can I make a claim against?

A claim can be brought against any party who has provided medical treatment. That will include the hospitals where treatment was provided, and also GPs.

It can include various other parties too, so for example if treatment was paid for privately then you can sue the treating doctor (who will have their own insurance) or the company providing that treatment.

It can also include claims against the employer of paramedics, or a nursing home.

Sometimes it is not terribly obvious who the responsible party for the treatment provided. It is therefore important that you instruct a specialist lawyer who can identify who the correct potential Defendants will be.

Can I complain about medical negligence?

If you are dissatisfied about the treatment you or a loved one has received then a complaint can be made to the body that provided that care, whether that be via hospital, GP or otherwise. Every medical provider will have their own complaints process. Details of this should be included on their website.

In Wales there is a concerns process referred to as NHS Redress, in which complaints can be dealt with. Within this an offer of Redress can be made of up to £25,000 if it is found that there have been failings in treatment causing harm. Legal advice can be funded via the hospital in these instances. This scheme is not available in England.

You can seek assistance with making a complaint through the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) which is an informal confidential help and advice service for patients.

Whether you put forward a complaint or not, it won’t stop you from making a legal claim should you feel you need to. If you are considering making a complaint, the NHS advises you do so within 12 months of the negligence.

How successful are medical negligence claims?

Clinical negligence claims by their very nature are difficult to prove. They can be incredibly complex, and it is therefore important that you instruct an experienced solicitor with specialism in clinical negligence to ensure that your concerns are fully explored.

Expert evidence is required to establish whether there has been a failing in care. There is often a range of opinion as to how to treat a patient in a specific situation. As such the expert needs to hold the view that no body of reasonably competent doctors would have treated the patient in the same way.

Once a failing in care is identified it then has to be established that it has caused some additional harm or injury. This can often be very difficult as an injured person can present with a pre-existing problem, or some treatment would have inevitably been required.

At Hugh James we have a wide breadth of experience in clinical negligence claims, and that enables us to identify potential issues in treatment at an early stage. Whilst this is by no means a guarantee a case is there, our experience in investigating and pursuing clinical negligence claims greatly increases the chances of it being successful.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Our healthcare system normally does a fantastic job but sometimes things do go wrong. Whether it’s GP negligence or hospital negligence  if something has gone wrong you may be able to make a medical negligence claim,  but you’ve only got a limited time to do so.

The general time limit for these cases is three years on from the date of the negligent treatment  – or three years from when you became aware of the negligence. However, the rules can be complicated, which means in certain cases you could claim long after three years have passed. It’s always best to contact a solicitor in these cases and they can advise you on whether or not the time limit has passed.

There are other limits to bear in mind too. For example, if a child receives negligent treatment, then a claim can be made on their behalf at any time until their 18th birthday. Once they reach 18 years old, the three-year timeline will begin. Those who don’t have the mental capacity to make a claim will not have the three-year rule applied to them at all. Should their mental capacity be regained, then they will have three years from this date to make a claim.

We can offer guidance based on our in-depth knowledge of the claims process. We’ll be with you every step of the way if you decide to claim and will strive to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. For more information on how to make a medical negligence claim,  get in touch using our online form or speak to us directly .

How do I pay for my claim?

Your initial consultation will be free and we’ll assess the information you provide to us and tell you if your case has reasonable chances of success. There will be no obligation to go through with your claim from here, but if you do, then we may be able to offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement or “no win, no fee agreement”. This means that you won’t have to pay any legal fees if your case is unsuccessful.

Should you win your case then a success fee and the non-recoverable element of your After The Event insurance will be deducted from your compensation amount and all other reasonably incurred legal fees will be recovered from the defendant.

All information regarding the funding of your case will be discussed in full during your initial consultation before you decide to instruct us. We hope this will make you feel more confident in proceeding with your claim to get the compensation you deserve for your injury.

Why choose Hugh James?

We hope we’ve helped you consider how much medical negligence is worth. Our medical negligence solicitors are expertly trained and have been top ranked by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 independent legal guides.

Medical negligence claims can be a lengthy process and difficult to prove. During your initial consultation, we want to get a thorough understanding of your case to ensure our dedicated solicitors can assist you throughout the entire process. They will do everything they can to help you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.

Here are a few reasons why you should choose Hugh James to help with your medical negligence claim:

  • We’re one of the leading injury compensation claims firms for medical negligence in England and Wales.
  • We were named the Clinical Negligence Team of the Year for the second time in succession at the 2020 Personal Injury Awards.
  • We recover over £30 million in medical negligence compensation for our clients every year.
  • We have a range of highly qualified staff, including a former midwife, qualified nurse executives, welfare benefits advisors, medical records officers, and qualified social workers to ensure your case is likely to succeed.
  • We are accredited by medical negligence charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).
  • We have hundreds of positive reviews on Trustpilot, so you can read first-hand why you should choose us as your medical negligence lawyers

If you think you have a claim and would like us to help, please contact the team today. There’s no obligation to proceed with your claim after speaking with us, but our knowledge and experience can help guide your next steps.

As always, we want to help you get the compensation you need to rebuild any damage caused because of medical negligence.

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.

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