Claiming for medical negligence in South Africa requires you to follow the correct legal procedure. Doing so without legal assistance may prove impossible and can jeopardize the success of the claim.
In this article, we discuss the medical negligence claims procedure in South Africa, explaining the steps to be taken as well as the requirements that must be met to claim successfully.
The first and most important step of this process is to seek legal advice. Your attorney will be able to advise you on whether pursuing the claim is worth it based on the facts you are able to present about your case. You will need to prove that your medical practitioner was negligent and, as a result, you suffered loss or damages.
Medical practitioners are legally obliged to inform their patients of all inherent risks associated with the proposed treatment and one they have delivered this information, they are required to obtain informed consent from their patients.
Usually, a claim must be lodged at court within three years of the patient becoming aware of the problem or when the negligence occurred. Individuals who are under the age of 18 or who lack mental capacity are not eligible to claim for medical negligence. In such cases, legal guardians would have to claim on their behalf.
All records relating to your case will be required to build a case strong enough for further legal action. It’s important that you keep all records and documents related to your incident regardless of how insignificant the information may seem. All patients have a right to request medical records from their medical practitioner but in some cases, it may be more effective for the medical negligence attorney to request this information on the patient’s behalf.
Once all the necessary evidence is gathered to support the claim, a summons will be issued by your attorney. The summons is delivered directly to the defendant. The defendant is the medical practitioner or the medical institution from which you are claiming compensation.
From here, the defendant may deny all allegations of medical negligence made against them. However, once their own investigation has taken place, they may offer settlement. Should you accept the settlement offer, your matter will not go to court. If a settlement is not offered, or should you choose to refuse the settlement offer, the matter may proceed to court.
Only a judge will be able to decide whether there is enough evidence to prove that medical negligence was present, based on the court hearings and proceedings. If you are successful, the judge will determine the level of compensation that you will be awarded.
Such legal proceedings can take several years to finalize.
Successfully claiming for medical negligence depends on the evidence. Our attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg help you to gather all the information and evidence necessary to build a strong case and will also advise you on how likely it is that you will succeed in suing your medical practitioner for negligence.
Contact us to find out more.
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