Professional Negligence - Vets

Is my Vet Negligent?

Mistakes in all professions happen and Vets are no different. Just because a mistake has happened it doesn't necessarily mean that your Vet has been negligent. In order to prove negligence you must be able to show that your vet did not perform with the same normal skill and judgment that would be expected of the average or reasonably competent vet. A vet is expected to exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill in their practice. A duty of care is owed to all clients and patients and sometimes to third parties.

A failure to maintain the standards expected of an average or reasonably competent vet could be viewed as a breach of duty of care.

When considering if your Vet has breached the duty of care the following factors should be considered:
  • The standards of the profession at the time of the alleged negligence
  • There may be more than one accepted approach to the clinical management
  • The vets level of expertise
  • The vet is not expected to perform to what is currently best practice just that a reasonable approach has been taken
  • That the breach of duty led to loss or damage being suffered
  • That the loss or damage was reasonably foreseeable
  • If you think you have a claim resulting from veterinary negligence contact us for advice.
Please Note: Under UK law you cannot claim compensation for the suffering of an animal.

It is also worth noting that with professional neglignece cases you can only claim for your financial loss. If this loss is below £10,000 then these cases will be dealt by the Small Claims Court. The Small Claims Court is designed for individuals to represent themselves and therefore you will not necessarily need to instruct a Solicitor. Instructing a Solicitor to represent you in a Small Claims Court is possible but more often than not is not financially viable. 

A vet negligence High Court case was Blass-v-Randall [2008]. Randall was a vet who arranged surgery to a horses legs. One year later Randall carried out a pre-purchase examination of the horse for its owner. Randall issued a certificate which did not mention the surgery or any problems with the horse's legs. After buying the horse, the owner sued Randall for negligence. Randall said he had told the owner about the surgery. The owner claimed this did not happen but her main argument was that the vet had fallen below the standard of an ordinarily competent veterinary surgeon by not recording that information in the pre-purchase examination certificate.

The court held that the basic obligations of a vet to the client are to conduct the clinical examination of the horse with reasonable skill and care and to communicate clearly and comprehensibly to the client the results of the examination, any relevant history of the horse of which the vet is aware, and the significance of those results and that history, having regard to what the vet knows about the intended use of the horse. As long as the information is communicated clearly and comprehensibly to the client, the judge saw no need for it to be communicated or confirmed in writing. The court preferred the vet's evidence so the claim failed. The case showed that professionals do not fall below the standards of an ordinarily competent professional if they fail to live up to "best practice".

If you feel you have suffered financial loss due to professional negligence contact us today to see if you are able to make a professional negligence claim.


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