Paramedics and ambulance crews often make the difference between life and death for people who need emergency medical assistance. Whether you were involved in a severe accident or suffer from a critical health condition, paramedics are often the first healthcare professionals to provide care and treatment.
Ambulance staff are usually prompt and skilful, but errors can sometimes occur. Negligent treatment in emergency situations can be devastating for patients and may result in permanent damage or even death. The most common circumstances leading to further injury or loss of life include delays in arrival, misdiagnosis, failure to respond to a call and negligent treatment or medication.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or your condition worsened due to negligent care, you might be entitled to make a paramedic negligence claim. You could receive compensation for your pain, suffering, any long-term complications and financial losses you incurred. Furthermore, your personal injury solicitor could help ensure you get the best private medical treatment available to aid your recovery.
Can I make a paramedic negligence claim?
Medical negligence claims can be very complex. Not every mistake a paramedic might make is considered negligence, and errors do not always result in an injury to the patient. To have a valid paramedic negligence claim, you must be able to prove that:
- The care and treatment you received were below the medical standard accepted in the field.
- The substandard treatment led to an injury or a worse outcome of your condition than would have been expected with proper care.
- This caused you to suffer personal and financial damages.
Usually, you can make a claim within three years after receiving negligent treatment or after you became aware of your injury. However, the time limit to start a claim for paramedic negligence can vary in certain circumstances. For example:
- If the victim is under 18, there is no time limit for a litigation friend (usually a parent or guardian) to bring a claim. The three-year countdown only begins after the victim becomes an adult, at which point they will have until their 21st birthday to start a paramedic negligence claim independently.
- There is no limitation date for a litigation friend to claim compensation on behalf of someone that lacks mental capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
- If a loved one passed away due to paramedic negligence, you could start a claim within three years from the day they died.
If you believe you or a loved one received substandard care from the ambulance services, you should contact an expert solicitor as soon as possible. They can let you know if you are eligible to make a paramedic negligence claim and will answer any questions you might have.
To start your claim or for further information, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
What is classed as paramedic negligence?
Paramedics are expected to provide knowledgeable and skilful assistance every time they have to treat an emergency. However, they can make mistakes when diagnosing or treating a patient who needs urgent medical care.
The erratic schedules and long shifts in highly stressful and upsetting life or death situations can also take a massive toll on paramedics. This makes ambulance staff more prone to errors and misdiagnosis, but not every error can be treated as negligence. Paramedic negligence arises when:
There is a duty of care.
Everybody has a general responsibility to behave in such a way as not to endanger the well-being of others. The duty of care of paramedics extends to acting as a competent and skilful paramedic with the same level of training would behave in the same circumstances.
There is a breach of duty.
If a paramedic failed to do something within their duty or did something they should not have done, they breached their duty of care towards you. The concept of a breach alone does not consider whether a particular action had any consequences on the victim.
The breach of duty causes an effect.
To have a valid paramedic negligence claim, you must prove that the paramedic’s actions caused you an injury of some type. If a paramedic breached their duty of care towards you, but you didn’t suffer any damage, you would not be eligible to claim compensation. Furthermore, you might have to show that your injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the paramedic’s actions.
Damage has been inflicted.
You will need proof of the injuries you suffered because of the paramedic’s negligence. If you have a valid claim, you can receive compensation for any physical and emotional injury you suffered and all the financial losses incurred. Compensation for damages aims to place you back in the position you would have been before the negligent treatment occurred.
If you had to receive emergency care, but your condition worsened, or you suffered an additional injury, you might be eligible to claim for paramedic negligence. Your solicitor will work with medicolegal experts to prove breach of duty and causation so that you can receive the compensation you deserve for your damages.
What are the most common types of paramedic errors?
There are many reasons why you might receive a poor standard of care in a medical emergency. The most common situations that lead to a paramedic negligence claim include:
- Slow emergency response
- Delayed or misdiagnosis
- Failure to provide adequate treatment
- Negligently deciding against specialist referral
- Delayed transfer to the hospital
- Not having the necessary equipment on the ambulance
- Failure to respond to a call
- Wrong treatment or medication
- Failure to medicate the patient at the scene
- Incorrect resuscitation procedures
- Physical mishandling or dropping the patient
The list is not exhaustive, and you might have received another negligent treatment. As long as you suffered an injury or your condition worsened due to a lack of appropriate care, you might be entitled to make a paramedic negligence claim.
Failing to diagnose a severe medical condition in an emergency can have catastrophic or fatal consequences. Some conditions which are commonly misdiagnosed include:
- Cauda equine syndrome
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism
How do I make a claim for paramedic negligence?
If you believe that the ambulance service you received was substandard and caused you avoidable and unnecessary suffering, you might be able to make a claim for paramedic negligence.
If you decide to take legal action, you should contact an experienced solicitor as soon as possible. If they believe you have a valid claim, they will work on your behalf and provide support and advice at every step of the claiming process.
There are a series of steps you must take in order to secure compensation:
- Firstly, your solicitor will help you gather as much relevant evidence as possible. This could be:
- Photographs of any visible injuries
- Medical records stating your diagnosis and the treatment you received
- Witness statements from friends or family
- Phone records of your emergency call
- Your own written notes about the experience and how it affected your life
- Reports from independent medical experts
- Proof of any financial expenses you incurred
- A medicolegal expert will examine your medical records and prepare a detailed report stating how you received substandard treatment, the consequences you suffered, any long-term implications and recovery prospects.
- After building a case, your solicitor will send a letter of claim to the defendant, informing them of your allegations of negligence. They will have four months to send you a letter of response.
- If the defendant admits they breached their duty of care towards you, your solicitor will start negotiating a settlement. This way, you may get compensation faster, incur lower legal costs and avoid the stress and uncertainty of a court hearing.
- If the other party denies liability or you cannot settle, your solicitor will issue court proceedings. Negotiations can continue until the court hearing date, and only a tiny percentage of claims actually end up before a judge (less than 5%).
To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
How much compensation can I claim for paramedic negligence?
The exact compensation award you might be entitled to receive will depend on many factors, including:
- The type and severity of your injury
- The circumstances in which you suffered an injury
- Any financial losses you incurred afterwards, including expected future losses
- The impact the negligent treatment had on your life
- Your pain and suffering
- Any long-term or permanent effects
You can claim paramedic negligence compensation for:
- Financial losses and expenses, including medical treatment, costs of care, travel costs, lost wages, mobility aids, funereal expenses, etc.
- General damages for physical pain and suffering, psychological damage and loss of amenity. This includes loss of companionship in wrongful death claims.
Your solicitor will consider all the ways in which the paramedic negligence affected your life. According to your unique circumstances, you might receive:
- £500 to £110,000 for injuries caused by manual handling negligence, including fractures, severe bruising, cuts and lacerations or back injuries
- £8,400 to £119,650 for wrong medical treatment causing you to suffer an epileptic fit
- £39,300 to £322,060 for incorrect treatment, diagnosis or medication causing temporary or permanent paralysis
- £1,000 to £167,800 for paramedic negligence leading to damage to internal organs
- £5,500 to £17,900 for mild psychiatric damage
- £12,000 to £300,000 for wrongful death
- £1,500 to £275,000 for head injuries, minor to severe brain injuries that may cause loss of mental capacity, mobility problems or the aggravation of a pre-existing condition
How long will a paramedic negligence claim take?
Every claim for paramedic negligence is unique, and it is difficult to state precisely how long it will take for you to receive compensation. Less complex cases usually settle within two years, while complicated claims may take more than three years to conclude.
A series of factors influence how long the claims process might take, such as:
- The extent and type of your injuries – complex injuries may require a lengthy recovery, which makes it more laborious to assess their full impact on your life.
- The impact on your health and life quality – if an injury affected your life in many ways, it will take longer to calculate a suitable compensation award.
- When and how the paramedic negligence took place – straightforward negligence cases such as manual mishandling or wrong medication are generally easier to prove and settle than a misdiagnosis claim.
- Whether the defendant admits liability – if the negligent accepts liability, you can settle out of court, meaning you might receive compensation much faster.
- The estimated value of your claim – it usually takes significantly longer to settle a high-value claim compared to a less substantial compensation award.
Regardless of your circumstances, the earlier you begin legal proceedings, the sooner you might receive the compensation award you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Can I claim for paramedic negligence with a no win no fee service?
If you want to take legal action against a negligent paramedic, you might worry about investing a lot of time and money into claiming without the certainty of winning compensation. Fortunately, most personal injury claims can be funded with a no win no fee agreement.
If your solicitor believes you have a fair chance of success, they will work on your behalf without asking for any upfront fees. Furthermore, they will take out After the Event (ATE) insurance in your name, which provides full financial coverage if your paramedic negligence claim is unsuccessful.
In no win no fee claims, you will only have to pay anything if you win your case and receive compensation. Therefore, you can focus on your recovery without worrying about upfront fees or hidden charges. Your solicitor will do most of the work and advise you at every step along the way.
If you win the claim, you will only have to pay a success fee to your solicitor. The success fee is agreed upon at the beginning of the claim and cannot exceed 25% of your compensation award.