Medical Negligence is a legal term that is everywhere right now.

You will hear it on TV, read it in the news and might even have spoken with people about it before.

Medical negligence is then a specific form of this which focuses on the healthcare industry.

There are three elements of negligence which must be met for you to have a claim.

A person will be negligent if you suffer harm that is caused by someone breaching his or her legal duty of care owed to you.

We will use the example of Medical Negligence to explain what these elements are.

Duty of Care

People use this term all the time in business, TV and personal life. It is exactly what it sounds like.

If you are owed a duty of care by someone else that person has a legal duty to care for your interests.

In Medical Negligence this would describe any person who is involved in your treatment like a doctor, surgeon, nurse, and any other person you interacted with as part of your treatment.


The next element is that the person who owes you a duty of care must breach it. This just means they have done something against the duty he or she promised you.

A doctor will breach his or he duty of care if they do not treat you to the appropriate standard of care expected of a doctor.

For example, if you went to hospital with a broken arm and the doctor forgot to take an X-ray.

The doctor did not place it in a cast and sent you home with Panadol you would probably agree the doctor should have done more. 


The final element is that the person who breached the duty of care he or she owe to you must have caused the breach.

The reason for this is to make sure that only the person who messed up should be held responsible.

Going back to the doctor who forgot to fix your broken arm, it would not be fair if we then sued the doctor in the room next door to you.

An easy way to ask if someone meets this causation test is to ask if ‘but for’ the persons actions would you still have suffered harm?

Final Example

As an extreme example to sum this all up, is a doctor negligent if you go to hospital with a broken finger and they amputate your arm?

  1. Duty of Care – As a doctor treating you, he or she owes you a duty of care.
  2. Breach – The average doctor would not amputate your arm for a broken finger would they? So we would say the doctor breached the duty of care owed to you.
  3. Causation – If it was not because of this doctor or ‘but for’ the actions of the doctor, you would still have your arm.

When this all comes together, we would say you have a medical negligence claim!

Obviously, this area can become incredibly complicated when treatment is harder than a broken arm and the damage is not as obvious.

That is what you have United Legal for. We are solicitors with 30 years of experience who work in Medical Negligence to help you after something goes wrong.



For our legal support services Contact us at (02) 6295 2283

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