5 Things You Need to Know About Medical Negligence Claims

Generally speaking, doctors go to great lengths to ensure the wellbeing, and ultimately good health, of their patients. They study for years to gather the necessary knowledge to make the right calls, even under pressure, to diagnose illnesses and to prescribe the correct treatment. However, doctors and other healthcare professionals are also just people like you and me, and mistakes unfortunately sometimes do happen. This is unavoidable. Yet, no patient should suffer because of medical negligence committed by a healthcare professional.

If you feel you have been the victim of a doctor or other healthcare professional acting negligently, you have the option of logging a medical negligence claim. If successful, this may result in some form of compensation. While this will not reverse the action, it could make it easier to live with some of the consequences. However, before you start this arduous process, there are some basic facts surrounding medical negligence claims that you should be aware of:

1. You Need to Prove That You Suffered Harm

This might sound obvious, but if you did not suffer any harm, there simply is no case of medical negligence. You cannot claim for harm that did not happen or a treatment, diagnosis, or outcome that you did not agree with or found uncomfortable.

2. The Healthcare Professional in Question Must Have Demonstrably Acted Negligently

As mentioned, doctors and healthcare professionals are not infallible – and they cannot be expected to be. Honest mistakes do happen. For a successful claim related to medical negligence, it needs to be proven that the healthcare professional caused you injury or harm as a direct result of their actions. These actions in question must be related to negligent behaviours, such as following the wrong procedure, making a misdiagnosis, failing to disclose certain information, or ignoring information that was readily available to them.

3. There Is A Limited Time Period for You to Initiate A Medical Negligence Claim

While there are certain exceptions, generally speaking, a claim needs to be lodged within three years from the time when you first realised that there is reason to claim.

4. This Is Not A Quick Process, Nor Is It A “Get Rich Quickly” Opportunity

Medical negligence claims take time to investigate and prove, so the process might carry on for a couple of years. It is also not an opportunity to claim riches for the rest of your life. Payouts are determined by the legal system, not you, and is strictly related to your resulting condition and the costs involved with that.

5. You Need Professional Representation

If you suspect a case of medical negligence, do not contact and confront the relevant healthcare professional directly. First, consult a different professional to first take care of your health. Then contact an attorney that specialises in these type of cases – such as Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated. We will provide you with a free initial consultation to determine whether you have a case. From there, we will help you develop the case, and we only charge a fee if the case is successful.

Some Commonly Asked Questions About the Road Accident Fund

South African roads are notoriously dangerous. While many attempts have been made to reduce the number of accidents and related deaths, there has been a consistent upward trend of road deaths over the last three years. In fact, the death toll rose by a shocking 5% in December 2018 alone, compared to the same period a year earlier. To lessen the social impact of these accidents, the government has introduced the Road Accident Fund (RAF) – a type of umbrella insurance that covers all drivers on South African roads.

But how, exactly, does the RAF work? We answer a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding this initiative:

Q: Who Can Claim from The Road Accident Fund?

A: Cover is provided for passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists who are involved in an accident and have sustained injuries or loss in the process. Drivers are only eligible to claim if they were not solely responsible for the accident. In certain instances, family members who are dependent on someone who was killed in the event may also submit claims.

Q: Do You Have to Be A South African Citizen to Submit A Claim?

A: No. Anyone who is involved in an accident on South African roads and meet the claim criteria can claim from the fund. This includes both South African citizens and foreigners who are involved in accidents within the borders of the country.

Q: How Long Do You Have to Submit A Claim?

A: This answer depends on whether you know who was responsible for the incident. If you do know who was responsible, you have up to three years from the date of the event to submit your claim. If you do not know who was responsible, you have to submit your claim within two years of the date of the incident.

Q: Where Does the Money for the RAF Come From?

A: This initiative is government funded. The money is collected by raising a levy on all fuel sold in South Africa. This automatic surcharge is then used to pay out successful claims against the fund.

If you have been in an accident and think you might qualify for a claim from the RAF, get in touch with Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated. We will provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss the case and determine the merits of your claim. If deemed admissible, we will provide you with legal representation, and only charge a fee if the case is successful.

Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Negligence Claims

We trust healthcare professionals with our health – and our lives. But what happens when something goes wrong? Who is to blame? And how do you recover from such an ordeal? Here, we take a closer look at medical negligence and answer some frequently asked questions around this topic.

Q: What is medical negligence?

A: Medical negligence is a complicated matter. It is not simply when a diagnosis or the outcome of a treatment (or the lack of success thereof) is not to your liking or what you wanted. Treatment outcomes cannot be guaranteed, and unsuccessful treatment does not mean that negligent behaviour was involved.

You may, however, have a pursuable case if it can be shown that you sustained damages or injuries due to a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional not following standard procedure, acting outside prescribed guidelines, ignoring information that is reasonably available to him or her, withholding relevant information in connection with your treatment, or acting carelessly in their diagnosis and/or treatment.

Q: Do I Have to Have A Permanent Physical Disability in Order to Have A Successful Claim?

A: No, medical negligence claims do not only cover injuries resulting in permanent disabilities or damage. Financial damages can also be claimed under certain circumstances, such as if the negligent behaviour directly caused you to incur monetary expenses and/or financial loss due to the lack of proper medical attention.

Q: How Much Can I Claim?

A: While this depends wholly on the damage you have sustained, whether it be physically or financially, you as claimant do not get to prescribe the amount you wish to recover from the negligent practitioner. Instead, your compensation will be determined by the court if they deem you have a valid case. This amount will be based on extensive investigations and calculations pertaining to the losses and damages you suffered.

Q: Will I Get Rich Quickly?

A: The short answer is no. The process of proving a case of medical negligence takes a very long time and can be quite stressful, so it should not be entered into lightly. Furthermore, the aim of this legislation and procedure is to compensate victims of medical negligence for their loss and suffering, not to enrich individuals.

Q: What Do I Do If I Cannot Afford A Lawyer to Represent Me?

A: This should be the last of your worries if you think you have an actual valid medical negligence claim on your hands. Your health should always take priority, and a lack of funds should not stand in your way. Legal representation can be expensive, which is why Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated is willing to provide you with a free initial consultation session to help determine whether you have a case or not. If we decide that you can lodge a successful claim, we will further represent you in court, and we will only charge you for our services in the event that the claim is successful. Our policy is strictly “no win, no fee”.

If you think you have a valid case of medical negligence to pursue, contact Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated. We are here to support you and will gladly provide you with advice on what your next steps should be.

Understanding the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and the Related Claims Process

Even if you only look at the news reports for the past year, the way South African roads are described is atrocious. They have been referred to as “a slaughterhouse”, “a national crisis”, and “unacceptable”. This paints a pretty bleak picture, but certainly not an unexpected one when you look at the statistics. According to a report issued by the World Health Organisation, South Africa has one of the poorest road safety records globally at about 31,9 fatalities per 100 000 people. In comparison, the average for African countries is about 24,1 fatalities per 100 000 people, and the global average is around 18 fatalities per 100 000 people. With figures such as these, a functional Road Accident Fund is vital.

The Road Accident Fund is a government initiative that provides automatic cover to all drivers on South African roads. This includes drivers who are not South African citizens. Foreigners are thus also covered if they happen to be in a vehicular collision.

This cover provides insurance against liability incurred due to a traffic collision. The insurance is only applicable to losses suffered due to bodily injuries of the relevant drivers and passengers involved – and, in some cases, pedestrians – and does not cover material damages to cars and other vehicles.

Due to the nature of the cover, those who can claim from the RAF are limited to:

  • Drivers
  • Passengers
  • Cyclists
  • Motorcyclists
  • Pedestrians
  • Dependents of a deceased breadwinner

That said, a claim will only be considered if the accident in which a person sustained injuries was not their fault, and if they suffered injuries directly as a result of that collision.

It is also important to note that if you were the driver and you were solely responsible for causing the collision, or if you were the only person involved in the collision (e.g. crashing into a tree or obstacle, with no other parties involved), you do not qualify to claim from the Road Accident Fund.

There is another caveat when it comes to claiming from the Road Accident Fund – you have to claim within a certain time period. Claims will only be entertained if they have been submitted within 36 months from the date on which the collision happened. If you take longer than this to submit your claim, you forfeit your chance for compensation.

If you want to know more about the RAF and how to claim, contact Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated. We have a “no win, no fee” policy to ensure that you do not incur costs unnecessarily, and will gladly assist you to determine whether your claim is valid.

Misconceptions About Medical Negligence Claims

Your health is one of the most valuable and important building blocks of a healthy and prosperous life. Losing it could hamper your opportunities and experiences. This is why doctors, nurses, and similar individuals play such a vital role in society. However, they are only human and can make mistakes at times. While this is acceptable, mistakes due to carelessness are not, and you as a patient should not suffer the consequences. If you were the victim of such medical negligence, you may have a case to claim compensation for your suffering or loss.

Medical negligence is a complicated matter. We take a closer look to clear up some of the misconceptions that exist around this issue:

Every Mistake A Doctor Makes Is Medical Negligence

This is simply not true. If a doctor followed standard procedure and acted within the guidelines and according to the information available to him or her, there was no careless action involved, and they cannot be held liable for injuries resulting from this action.

Not Getting the Treatment or Outcome You Want Is Medical Negligence

Just because the patient did not like the outcome of a treatment or diagnosis, or did not get the treatment he or she wanted to get, it does not mean that they have a case against the service provider.

It Is A Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

The purpose of this type of claim is to compensate a victim for projected loss and injury, not to enrich them. Furthermore, proving a case like this takes a very long time and can be rather stressful, so it should not be entered into lightly.

You Have to Have A Permanent Physical Disability to Have A Successful Claim

This is not true. Not all claims are based on permanent injuries. Claims can also be based on financial damages, such as monetary expenses incurred due to a lack of proper medical attention, as well as the resulting financial losses caused by this.

You Get to Decide How Much You Are Claiming For

You cannot simply decide that you want to sue a practitioner for a certain amount. If you have a legitimate case, compensation will be determined by the court, based on extensive investigations pertaining to the losses and damages you suffered.

You Cannot Instigate A Medical Negligence Claim If You Cannot Afford A Lawyer

This is not true. If you have suffered due to carelessness, you can approach a service provider like Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated to assist you with your case. We will assess your case during the first consultation, which is free, to determine the possibility of success. Furthermore, they have a “no win, no fee” policy, so if your case is not successful, you do not pay.

Simpsons Attorneys Incorporated specialises in personal injury claims resulting from motor vehicle accidents, medical negligence, and product and public liability. Contact us if you feel you have been a victim of medical negligence. We will talk you through the steps and help you determine whether you deserve compensation.

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