2020 Guide to Medical Negligence Payouts in Australia
This guide will help you understand more about medical negligence payouts, including examples of medical negligence claims payouts in Australia.
How much money do you get for medical negligence?
Medical negligence payouts range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the total compensation amount can include:
- Lost income – the amount of income you’ve lost through time off work
- Medical expenses – resulting from your injuries
- Travel expenses – to and from medical appointments and treatment
- Domestic assistance – the cost of getting help with home duties
- Pain and suffering – an amount to compensate you for your pain and suffering, based on the extent of your injuries
- Future losses – for example, your future earnings that you will miss out on as a result of your injuries
For more detailed information, refer to our guide to medical negligence compensation.
What are some examples of medical negligence payouts in Australia?
Here are three examples of medical negligence cases in Australia and the payouts they received:
Case 1: Injury from pregnancy termination – $1.48M
In this medical negligence claim in NSW, the patient was injured during a planned termination of a pregnancy. She suffered a perforated bowel caused by the use of forceps, which then required further surgery and treatment over the next two years.
This patient was awarded a medical negligence payout of $1.48M.
Case 2: Delayed diagnosis of appendicitis – $750k
Many medical negligence payouts in Australia result from delayed diagnosis. This patient went to her doctor with abdominal pain and was incorrectly diagnosed as having an ovarian cyst. She was subsequently admitted to hospital and discharged 24 hours later, once again without a correct diagnosis. She was eventually diagnosed with a ruptured appendix seven days after her initial examination. As a result, she has suffered long term physical and psychological issues, which could have been avoided had the diagnosis not been delayed.
This patient was awarded a medical negligence payout of $750k
Case 3: Paraplegia caused by delayed diagnosis – $4.5M
The patient presented at hospital with severe neck pain, and the hospital incorrectly diagnosed him as having a muscle strain and prescribed morphine. The next day he returned to the hospital, once again with severe neck pain, however he was discharged and sent home. On the third day his limbs stopped working and he collapsed at home and became unresponsive. He was rushed into surgery where it was found he had a cervical spinal epidural abscess caused by a Staph infection. Despite undergoing surgery, the patient was left paraplegic and spent the next four months in hospital.
This patient was awarded a medical negligence payout amount of $4.5M to cover his losses and pain and suffering and to support his future care and treatment expenses.
What is the average medical negligence payout amount in NSW?
It’s difficult to access data on medical negligence claims across NSW as a whole, but we can look at local health districts within NSW. According to data obtained by the Northern Daily Leader* in a freedom of information request, the Hunter New England Health Service made 105 medical negligence claims payouts in NSW between October 1, 2016, and October 1, 2018. The average medical negligence payout for this NSW region was more than $650,000.
This figure is considered high and it’s likely that the average across NSW is lower than $650,000, as payouts of this magnitude generally indicate quite serious medical negligence cases.
How do you successfully claim a medical negligence payout in Australia?
Medical negligence claims are complex, so it’s important to get good advice and engage the services of a specialist medical negligence lawyer. Your lawyer will engage one or more medical experts who have experience in medical negligence to carry out assessments, review your medical records and provide a report detailing how your treatment was negligent.
||Your lawyer will manage this process for you, and if they’ve taken your medical negligence case on a “no win no fee” basis they will cover the medical experts’ costs, so you shouldn’t have to pay anything out of your own pocket.|
If your medical negligence claim is accepted by the insurer, the next step is mediation – where all parties meet and try to reach an agreement. Many claims are resolved at this stage and a settlement (i.e. a medical negligence payout to you) is agreed upon. In the minority of cases where a settlement isn’t reached, your lawyer will advise you about taking your claim to court to pursue compensation.