Causation In Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

It is a commonly held misconception that in order to succeed with a medical negligence compensation claim, it is enough if the Defendant admits that there was a breach of duty of care, but there is much more to a medical negligence claim than this.

A medical negligence claim will only succeed if all 3 of the following elements are proven:

  1. That the Defendant owed the Claimant a duty of care. In a claim involving medical negligence, this test is satisfied because a healthcare provider always owes their patient a duty of care when providing treatment.
  2. There was a breach of that duty of care by the Defendant, e.g. that the standard of care provided fell below that expected of a reasonably competent body of medical practitioners.
  3. That the breach of duty resulted in an avoidable injury to the Claimant.

It is not enough to simply prove that the medical treatment fell below the standard of care to be provided. In addition, a Claimant must also prove that the negligent care resulted in an avoidable injury. This is known as ‘causation’ and very often the more difficult part of the claim to prove.

Proving Causation In Medical Negligence Claims

The process of proving causation in medical negligence claims can be difficult.

The legal test for causation stems from the historic Barnett case, which established the ‘But For’ test. This test is still used today to determine whether causation can be proved.

The test requires the Court to ask ‘But For’ the negligent medical treatment, would the Claimant have suffered the injury, loss or damage?

Generally, the Claimant is trying to prove that the injury, loss or damage suffered occurred specifically as a result of the negligent medical treatment provided. If the injury, loss or damage would have occurred despite the treatment then the medical negligence claim will fail.

Causation in medical negligence claims is complex as there can be instances where injury, loss or damage can take place even if negligent treatment had not occurred. When making a claim a specialist and experienced legal team is vital to thoroughly understand the issues and determine whether causation can be established.

How Can Nelsons Help?

Causation In Medical NegligenceDanielle Young is an Associate in our Medical Negligence team.

At Nelsons, we have an experienced team of solicitors across our DerbyLeicester and Nottingham offices, who are always happy to discuss the circumstances of your claim and advise you on whether you are likely to be successful.

Please call 0800 024 1976 or contact us via our online form for more information.