Legal Eagle: Was hospital negligent when it failed to diagnose my broken ankle?
Q. I hurt my ankle recently while playing football. I thought I had broken it but when I went to casualty I was told it was sprained and to rest for just a couple of days but still to walk on it when I could.
It was still painful and after a couple of weeks I went to my GP who sent me for an X-ray.
The ankle is fractured and I will need an operation. I will be off work. I think if I’d had an X-ray at casualty it would not have been as bad.
I contacted a solicitor. I do not really understand what he was talking about. I am worried it will cost a lot to pursue a claim and I will not get my loss of earnings back.
A. The solicitor you contacted should be a specialist clinical negligence lawyer. The solicitor should be a member of either the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel or AvMA Panel.
If the solicitor is on one of these panels, contact him again and ask for a clearer explanation. If not, contact a specialist.
The solicitor should explain clearly what you need to do in order to investigate the treatment.
They will obtain your records and X-rays. They will then instruct an independent expert or experts to review them and perhaps examine you.
The expert will tell you if the fracture should have been diagnosed initially and if it has affected your injury. You need to prove both.
If this is the case the solicitor will write to the hospital.
If they accept your claim the solicitor will try to agree the compensation with them, including any loss of earnings.
If they do not accept the claim or if you cannot agree the compensation, court proceedings might have to be issued.
Eventually a judge would decide if the hospital were negligent, and if so the level of compensation to be paid.
The solicitor should explain how this would be funded and what it might cost.
You may have legal expenses insurance. Alternative funding will usually be in the form of a conditional fee agreement or “no win, no fee”.
You should also get advice about benefits to replace earnings you have lost.
Generally you have three years from the date that you should have known you might have a claim to issue proceedings at court. It is important that you do not delay.
If you are still unclear about anything, ask the solicitor if they have fact sheets or other information you can read to help you understand.
Ben Hoare Bell LLP has medical negligence solicitors on specialist panels that can assist with issues like the above.
To speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor, call Ben Hoare Bell on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected]
Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.