Medical Negligence Claims

Medical practitioners hold a particular place in Society and in their hands we often place complete trust. Doctors and nurses in Ireland generally do a wonderful job in caring for us from cradle to grave in frequently difficult circumstances and increasingly under-resourced. It is no surprise then that accidents happen, and when these accidents result in an injury or loss, you may be entitled to make medical negligence claims.

Not all medical negligence claims are related to catastrophic injury. Although these are the ones that make the headlines in the newspapers, there are hundreds that go unreported each year as they are – in the eyes of court reporters and newspaper editors – relatively minor in comparison or settled before they get that far. However, if it is you that has suffered due to the lack of care by a medical practitioner, you may not feel that your injury is minor at all and may be beside yourself with worry about your future wellbeing and financial security.

Who is Liable for Medical Negligence?

Not all medical negligence claims originate in a hospital. It is true that most birth injuries, surgical errors and MRSA outbreaks occur within a hospital, but any professional who practices medicine can be guilty of making a medical error. The list of medical practitioners can include midwives, dentists and chiropractors, and also be extended to include laboratory assistants who analyse test results, nursing auxiliaries responsible for providing care in the absence of nurses and hospital administrators who fail to manage hospital transfers or post-surgical care. You might even have justifiable cause to make a medical negligence claim against your family doctor.

As painful as it may be to make medical negligence claims against a GP or other medical professional who has provided care for generations of your family, most medical practitioners will be genuinely distressed that their lack of care has resulted in you or a loved one sustaining an injury or loss. All medical practitioners are required to have adequate insurance before being allowed to practice medicine in Ireland, and so any settlements that result from your medical negligence claims will not be paid directly by your doctor but by their insurers.

Determining Liability in Medical Negligence Claims

To determine liability in medical negligence claims it has to be shown that “on the balance of probability” a medical practitioner acted with a lack of skill or in a negligent manner which caused or contributed to an injury. The action, or lack of action, has to have been avoidable at the time, and in the circumstances around which the injury was sustained. It all sounds highly complex, but effectively the medical practitioner must have shown poor professional performance which, in turn led to an injury or loss.

The “injury or loss” conclusion to that sentence is very important because even if medical negligence has undoubtedly occurred, if you have not sustained an injury or loss there are no grounds for medical negligence claims. Furthermore, it may not have been the medical practitioner who treated you who may be at fault in medical negligence claims. Sometimes incorrect test results may lead a doctor to overlook a diagnosis or the lack of communication within an operating theatre result in a surgical error.

Making Medical Negligence Claims

Applications for medical negligence claims in Ireland are the only form of personal injury claims which are not initially processed through the Injuries Board. Instead all medical negligence claims are prepared to be litigated in court in front of a judge. Many medical negligence claims in Ireland are settled by negotiation and only those which involve children will certainly be concluded in court, as a judge has to give approval of the settlement in a claim involving a Minor before medical negligence claims can be paid.

One area of medical negligence claims that often worries people is when they believe they have left it too late to claim. The Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (often referred to as the “Statute of Limitations”) allows you two years from the “date of knowledge” that an injury has occurred in which to make medical negligence claims. This means that if you sustained an injury due to medical practitioner’s negligence many years ago, but have only found out about it, the two years starts from when you discovered that an injury was sustained and not when it actually occurred.

Free Medical Negligence Advice

Our solicitors have been providing assistance for people who have been injured by medical negligence for more than twenty years, and even if you believe that your injury or loss may be of little consequence to others, it matters to us. Our solicitors are just a click away, willing to discuss any medical negligence claims that you feel you may be entitled to, in complete confidence and with no obligation to proceed with a medical negligence claim once you have spoken with us.

Irrespective of whether a member of your family has suffered a terrible medical injury or you have had a tooth unnecessarily extracted, our impartial and practical advice will be able to provide you with the information you need, professionally and courteously, at a time when you may have many other considerations to worry about. To take advantage of our free legal advice service, please complete your contact details below – advising us of when would be a convenient time to call – and one of our helpful team will be back in touch with you.



This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.