Hospital injuries fall into two categories; those which are physical accidents which occur within a medical centre – such as a slip on a wet surface, and those due to clinical error – where a medical practitioner has failed in his duty of care towards you. Where negligence is responsible for causing your hospital injury, you are entitled to make a hospital injury compensation claim. However, the method for each category is entirely different.

Types of Hospital Injury

Personal injury can affect staff, visitors and patients in a hospital, and is more likely to be caused by the type of oversight that you may find in any public premises. An unmarked slippery surface, poorly maintained passageways or faulty equipment can all lead to the type of painful injury which one would associate with a fracture or blow to the body.

Clinical negligence is often more life-threatening as it can create scenarios such as wrong diagnosis, incorrect administration of drugs and surgical errors which may remain undetected for many years. Hospital acquired diseases also come under the heading of clinical negligence even though they are caused by a lack of hygiene that would more likely be associated with food poisoning.

Treating a Hospital Injury

As with any form of personal injury, medical attention for slips, trips and falls should be sought straight away and the incident recorded in the hospital´s “Accident Report Book”. A copy of this report, plus your medical records, will be used to support a hospital injury compensation claim to the Injuries Board Ireland.

Treatment for hospital injuries caused by clinical negligence will depend on what injuries you have sustained and how long after the negligent act took place they are diagnosed. Again, it may be important to a hospital injury compensation claim to gather details of who was present when surgery was performed or drugs administered in order to support the claim for hospital injury compensation.

Liability for a Hospital Injury

The liable party for a personal hospital injury will usually be the hospital administration or local health authority. They have the responsibility for ensuring that a hospital is a safe place for people to work in, visit and recover from any medical treatment.

This applies to all public areas, including waiting rooms, wards and hospital car parks.

The hospital or health authority is also liable in cases of clinical negligence, although cases of this nature are often much harder to prove. For example, a doctor may have performed the wrong operation on you or a loved one, but this may due to him being misinformed, rather than negligent. If he has been misinformed about the procedure he is supposed to perform, liability could rest with one of his surgical team or an auxiliary worker.

Compensation for a Hospital Injury

Again, the two ways of claiming hospital injury compensation differ widely. Personal hospital injuries are assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland based on their own medical examination and the “Book of Quantum”. Your hospital injury claim should account for the physical trauma you have experienced and special damages for any out of pocket expenses you sustain or loss of earnings incurred due to your hospital injury.

A hospital injury claim which involves clinical negligence will be declined by the Injuries Board Ireland as your claim has to show that your physician acted in a way which demonstrated a lack of skill or the ability to apply that skill. Furthermore, his or her actions – or inactions – must have caused you an injury which a medical expert testifies could have been avoided. As this type of hospital injury compensation claim relies on medical opinion, it can only be resolved through the courts or by negotiation between solicitors.

Legal Advice for a Hospital Injury

Consulting with a solicitor before making any type of personal injury compensation claim is always recommended, and especially so when considering a hospital injury compensation claim. Insurance companies representing the negligent health authority have plenty of experience of challenging claims, and you should have comprehensive legal guidance to counter any approach they make with an offer of inadequate early settlement.

Legal representation is a necessity for hospital injury compensation claims requiring litigation in the courts. It is in your best interests to engage a solicitor as soon as you are aware that you have been the victim of clinical negligence in order that your solicitor can compile the strongest case possible. Once your solicitor has prepared his legal and medical testimony, you often find that the insurance companies are willing to settle without the need for a trial.

Hospital Injury Summary

  • Claims for hospital injury compensation can arise from accidental injury due to negligence or from medical malpractice
  • Although the liable party may be the same, the methods of making a hospital injury compensation claim differ considerably
  • In both cases, however, you need to be prepared against offers of early hospital injury compensation which are inadequate to your requirements
  • A solicitor is the best person to advise you on the procedures for claiming hospital injury compensation, represent you in court and negotiate early settlement

There are many different scenarios which affect making a hospital injury compensation claim. If you have been injured in an accident in a hospital or believe you are the victim of clinical negligence, you are invited to discuss your hospital injury claim with an experienced solicitor on 1-800 989 900.

Copyright © 2011 Eoin P. Campbell

Eoin P. Campbell About the Author
Eoin P. Campbell is an honours law graduate (LL.B) and qualified solicitor whose primary professional experience is in the area of litigation and in particular personal injury claims. Eoin P. Campbell is currently lecturing in law at two universities in Lyon, France.