Causation of clinical negligence


When attempting to prove that a medical professional is liable for clinical negligence, causation is often the most difficult element to establish. In order to establish causation, the claimant must show that the negligent treatment received by the professional caused their injuries. This is often a contentious point.

A medical practitioner may argue that the claimant's injuries arose as a result of the illness itself, not the treatment. If this were successfully argued in a case concerning clinical negligence, causation would not be established and the claim would fail. To disprove this argument, a claimant would have to rely on medical evidence. If there is conflicting medical evidence, the claimant must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that their injuries have resulted from the negligent treatment of the practitioner. If they can do this, they will have established the causational element of their clinical negligence claim.

When assessing whether a claimant has a claim for clinical negligence, causation can be considered by using the 'but for' test. This test is satisfied if the injuries suffered by the claimant would not have arisen 'but for' the treatment received by the practitioner. It should be noted that even if the 'but for' test is satisfied, causation may still not be established. This is because in some cases policy or common sense might suggest that the negligence did not cause the injuries. The courts will not use the 'but for' test when considering causation if it would produce an unjust result.

If you would like to obtain legal advice and information on bringing or defending a clinical negligence claim, we can put you in touch with a local specialist civil litigation solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any question or would like our help in finding local civil litigation solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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