Successfully claiming compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital relies on a number of factors. First of all it has to be established that the patient suffered a quantifiable injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition; for although wheelchair-related accidents are not uncommon in hospital, fortunately most accidents result in very minor injuries.
Secondly it has to be established that the hospital was in breach of its duty of care by either:
- Failing to supervise a patient that had been assessed as requiring assistance when transferring into or out of a wheelchair,
- Failing to advise a wheelchair user that does not need supervision of the procedures for getting into or out of a wheelchair (i.e. locking the brakes),
- Failing to advise a patient that they have to be aware of their centre of gravity when leaning forward or backwards (to prevent tipping), or
- Failing to provide a patient with a wheelchair of adequate mechanical standard that can safely bear their weight and has adequate manoeuvrability.
Many of these factors rely on the outcome of a risk assessment conducted to assess the risk of injury to a patient by being provided with a wheelchair. Where a risk assessment concludes that a patient requires assistance getting into and out of a wheelchair, hospital staff should be properly trained and have established procedures for the safe transfer of a patient.
Should a risk assessment be conducted inaccurately, or a review of the risk assessment not take place after a change in the patient´s circumstances, it should be possible to claim compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital if the patient suffers a quantifiable injury or avoidable deterioration of an existing condition that results in an extended hospital stay.
How Much Compensation for a Patient Falling from a Wheelchair in Hospital?
Once sufficient evidence of injury and negligence is collected to support an injury compensation claim, a solicitor will send a “letter of Claim” to the NHS Trust or independent medical facility responsible for the patient´s care. The letter will outline the claim against the negligent party and suggest an offer of settlement. Settlements of compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital generally comprise of three elements:
- Compensation for the patient´s pain and suffering – both past and in the future if a permanent injury or deterioration has occurred.
- Compensation for any loss in the patient´s quality of life. This can relate to a temporary or permanent loss and may be connected to an extended hospital stay.
- Compensation for economic losses such as a loss of income or additional expenses due to an extended hospital stay.
Not all of these factors will apply in every settlement of compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital, and there may be some claims in which additional factors apply – for example if a patient has suffered a quantifiable psychological injury (such as a loss of confidence) due to falling from a wheelchair in hospital.
Seek Legal Advice about Wheelchair Related Accidents
Due to the different scenarios in which wheelchair accidents can happen and the consequences of an injury to the individual, no two claims for compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital are identical. For this reason it is in your best interests to discuss your accident in hospital with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
The solicitor will assess the merit of your claim in relation to your individual circumstances and advise you whether you have a claim for compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital that is worth your while to pursue. If so, the solicitor will engage the services of a healthcare safety expert to review the risk assessments compiled during your hospital stay in order to ascertain whether the hospital was in breach of its duty of care.
If so, your solicitor will start the process of making a claim against the NHS Trust or independent medical facility and enter into negotiations with the negligent party to ensure you receive your maximum entitlement to compensation for a patient falling from a wheelchair in hospital.