Do you still have to prove negligence when claiming compensation for the failure to diagnose a broken bone even though it is obvious that an error has happened?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

If you want to claim compensation for the failure to diagnose a broken bone, it is not necessary to prove negligence, but an investigation to determine how the error occurred will still have to take place before a claim for the misdiagnosis of a broken bone can be resolved.

The reason for this is that, although it may indeed have been the attending medical practitioner who made the mistake, to incorrectly attribute blame to one specific medical practitioner – when a technician or administrator could be at fault for the error – would undermine the credibility of your claim for the misdiagnosis of a broken bone, may considerably delay the receipt of compensation for the failure to diagnose a broken bone and incur substantial costs which, in turn, may decrease the value of your settlement.

Therefore, it will be necessary for you to discuss the circumstances of your injury with a solicitor, have the solicitor compile a ‘Letter of Complaint’ (in you have not already done so) who would then write to the medical staff involved with the negligent treatment you received to obtain your relevant medical history.

Your solicitor would engage the services of an independent medical expert to review the notes and determine how the misdiagnosis occurred, as well as arranging for the medical expert to examine your broken bone to ascertain whether any permanent damage was done and how likely it is that you will make a complete recovery.

Once it is established where in the chain of events an error was made, your solicitor will send a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the hospital at which your broken bone was misdiagnosed and support the letter with the evidence compiled by the independent medical expert. If the full consequences of your injury are known, your solicitor will include with the ‘Letter of Claim’ an invitation to make an offer of compensation for the failure to diagnose a broken bone.

There really is no justifiable defence against a claim for the misdiagnosis of a broken bone, and therefore it should not take very long in order to resolve your claim. Nonetheless, it would be in your best interests to speak with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity so that the evidence needed to support the ‘Letter of Claim’ can be collected while it is still recent.

Speaking with a solicitor now would also enable a preliminary assessment of your claim, so that you know in advance how much compensation for the failure to diagnose a broken bone you are likely to receive.