Damages in clinical negligence claims
Produced in partnership with Renée Wood
Damages in clinical negligence claims

The following Personal Injury guidance note Produced in partnership with Renée Wood provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Damages in clinical negligence claims
  • Introduction
  • Causation—don’t forget it
  • General and special damages
  • Pain, suffering, loss of amenity
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of congenial employment
  • Pension loss
  • Care and assistance
  • Medical care and expenses
  • more

NOTE: On 15 July 2019 the Lord Chancellor announced that the discount rate would change to minus 0.25%. The new discount rate came into effect on 5 August 2019.


This Practice Note addresses heads of damage commonly claimed in clinical negligence litigation. However, it does not cover Fatal Accidents Act 1976 or Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 claims.

Causation—don’t forget it

Causation is essential in any personal injury claim but presents particular challenges in clinical negligence matters. It is likely that the claimant had health concerns prior to the negligence, hence seeking treatment in the first place.

When assessing damages, it will not always be as straightforward as attributing all of the claimant’s ongoing medical problems to the alleged negligence. You must ascertain the actual damage caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Bear in mind that even if pre-existing problems would have occurred or continued in any event, it is possible that they have been accelerated or exacerbated by the negligence.

Also remember that no medical treatment carries a guarantee of complete recovery. Furthermore, sometimes the goal is to reduce symptoms rather than provide a cure. The likely outcome, if the negligence had not occurred, must be established.

Assessment will be simpler if the claimant suffered no relevant pre-existing problems and the treatment should have fixed the injury, eg timely treatment