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The Difference Between A Personal Injury Claim And A Medical Negligence Claim?

If you suffer an injury that is someone else's fault, whether you are a passenger in a car or a patient on an operating table, isn't it really the same thing; a personal injury? The answer is really a yes and a no. Of course if you are injured, you have suffered a personal injury, however there are some major differences and this article looks at those.

Who Causes The Injury?

Traditionally personal injury claims refers to car accidents, motorbike accidents, accidents at work and in public places and accidents on holidays. In all cases the person responsible for causing your accident could be any other person. Medical negligence claims are only made if you have suffered an injury at the hands of a negligent medical professional, whether this is a General Practitioner, an Orthopaedic Surgeon or a dentist.

What Do You Have To Prove To Win Your Claim

In both personal injury and medical negligence claims you have to prove that the person responsible for your injury owed you a duty of care, that they have breached this duty that they owed to you, and that as a result of the breach you have suffered an injury. Let's look at each of these points in turn.

Duty Of Care

In personal injury claims the duty of care is reasonably obvious. For example, with a car accident as the driver of a potentially lethal weapon there is a clear duty of care to other road users. With medical negligence, once again, this duty of care is reasonably obvious. If you perform an operation or provide medication there is a reasonably obvious duty to ensure that you take care in what you are doing.

Breach Of Duty Of Care

The difference between these two types of claims becomes more difficult when looking at the breach of the obvious duty of care. Whereas one driver driving into the back of another one is a clear and obvious breach of the duty of care in a personal injury claim, it is not so easy with medical negligence claims. In these situations the court will look at the potential breach of duty of care and decide if the care provided has “fallen below the standard of a responsible body of medical men”. It is not such a straightforward test and means that sometimes, claims that you might think should lead to a medical negligence claim do not. If it can be proved that a “responsible body of medical men” would have done the same as the treating doctor in the case, then this is enough to disprove the breach of duty of care and means that the claim will fail.


The final test can again be more difficult in medical negligence claims. It must be proved that the breach of duty of care caused the injury. Again in a car accident, a patient with no prior injury who suddenly is suffering from severe neck pain following the collision can quite easily prove that the accident caused the injury.

However, in a medical negligence claim it is often more difficult to prove that the negligent treatment lead to the injury. It might be argued that the patient would have developed the symptoms even if they had not undergone the treatment in question.


Whereas personal injury claims and medical negligence claims might look very similar on paper, in practice it is clear that winning a medical negligence claim is much more difficult than winning a personal injury claim. This makes it all the more important that you choose a specialist medical negligence solicitor to help you make your claim for compensation.

Can We Help You With A Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

See our GP Negligence section.

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Can We Help You With A GP Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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"Before we contacted you we had no real idea that we had grounds for a medical negligence claim but after speaking to you if became clear that Wendy was indeed treated poorly. Chris took the time to explain what was happening and kept us to speed. Our deepest gratitude to you all and Chris in particular."

"I would like to say a big thank you to you for making this whole process easy and relatively painless. You kept me informed throughout and you were always polite and courteous in all forms of communication. I would not hesitate to recommend you to friends and family, so a really big thank you and I wish you all the best in the future."

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