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Veterinary Negligence

Vets are skilled professionals who owe a minimum duty of care to their clients to maintain the standards of a reasonably competent vet.

Vets are normally engaged to treat animals, but are also often engaged to assess an animal’s health prior to purchase, for example horses are often “vetted” before purchase.

If your vet fails to treat or diagnose your animal correctly and apart from the emotional distress you suffer financial loss you may have a claim. Likewise, if your vet fails to identify a condition in an animal you had inspected before purchase you may have a claim for your losses.

Claims could include the cost of further treatment due to the right treatment not being provided or if there had been a delay in providing treatment. Likewise, if an animal’s breeding value has been lost.

In the case of a failure to identify a condition the claim may be for the cost of corrective treatment or for the diminished value of the animal.

A vet’s duty of care will be judged in the context of their experience; expertise; and accepted standards and approaches of the profession. Whereas losses will be measured in the context of what was reasonably foreseeable.

We will help determine exactly whether the treatment diagnoses or inspection provided by your vet falls within the standard that can be reasonably expected of a vet in the same situation. If your vet has failed to meet those minimum expectations we can help you identify the loss or potential losses you have suffered. We can consider how best to pursue the claim and the likely costs.

Our aim is to give you as clear a picture of how strong your claim is and how much it is worth as soon as possible and in any event before you take the decision to start proceedings.

However, it should be appreciated that suing a vet for professional negligence may require a veterinary expert and specialist Barrister’s input particularly in complex matters.

Vets should have insurance that will cover the consequences of their mistakes/breaches of duty which means you can have a degree of confidence that if you bring a claim and you are successful you should be able to recover the full amount of damages and costs awarded.

If we feel you have a good prospect of success and the value of your claim is sufficient, we would be prepared to consider acting for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement, sometimes known as “no win, no fee”.

Sometimes though a vet’s service, whilst inadequate, may not amount to negligence or an actionable breach of contract. If this is the case you still may have grounds to bring a complaint through their professional body, the Legal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) whom ultimately have the power to strike off a vet guilty of serious misconduct. If you believe you have been the subject of inadequate service we can assist with the complaints procedure.

Please note the RCVS is unable to make awards of compensation/damages for professional negligence and/or breach of contract and may decline to investigate/deal with a complaint if a claim is being pursued.

Cases Blass -v- Randall [2008] EWHC 1007

A vet who was found to have communicated the fact that a horse had undergone surgery but failed to record that fact in his written report to the prospective purchaser and was held not to be liable for the purchaser’s loss. However, in this case the Court preferred the vet’s evidence as to the content of the discussion with the prospective purchaser.

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