If you believe that you may have grounds for a medical or clinical negligence claim what should you do?
Well the first thing is to be sure you have a valid claim. It’s important to realise that a medical negligence claim is very different from a personal injury claim. In the case of medical negligence there are 2 key factors to consider.
To qualify as a negligence case you have to prove firstly that the medical practitioner was at fault, and secondly you have to prove that the fault caused you harm or loss. Another thing to consider is the time at which the harm or injury occurred. Medical negligence time constraints exist which mean that to be valid, any compensation claim must be started within 3 years of the harm or injury having occurred. It is also possible to start a medical negligence within 3 years of you discovering the negligence, this can be complex and if you are unsure you need to speak with a medical negligence Solicitor.
This may sound off putting and even a little daunting, but you shouldn’t be put off if you think you may have a reason to claim. Most reputable Solicitors and Lawyers will provide an initial consultation for free, either in person or over the phone. This initial consultation will help to determine whether you have a valid claim or not.
I’m worried about the costs. How will I fund my claim?
For most people cost is understandably their main concern in pursuing a claim. However the vast majority of clinical and medical negligence claims are funded through what’s known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). These work in the same way as ”˜No Win, No Fee’ arrangements and are designed to ensure that there is no financial risk to yourself. Through the initial consultations your Legal representative will have decided that you have a valid claim that is worth pursuing and which has a reasonable chance of success. If all of the above criteria have been met then your Solicitor/Lawyer or other legal representative agrees that they will not charge a fee if they are not successful in pursuing your claim.
In the event that your Solicitor is successful in pursuing your claim they will charge the opponent your legal costs, although it should be noted that the costs incurred in pursing your claim are your costs and you could be liable for those costs if you breach the terms and conditions of your Solicitors agreement/retainer. The Solicitor may also charge a ”˜success fee’ which will have been mutually agreed previously as a percentage of damages awarded. However the ”˜success fee’ is optional and it cannot exceed 25% of your recovered damages including VAT. All of the details and costs of the claims process and any investigations or gathering of evidence should have been discussed and agreed upon within the terms of the CFA, and a detailed cost breakdown should be available. Your representative should also provide you with a ”˜Client Care’ letter which will detail the structure and procedures involved in the claims process.
Provision of a client care letter is a requirement insisted upon by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the governing body for the legal profession which ensures that legal professionals provide a good standard of care and professional service and conduct. It’s important to ensure that your representative is a member of the SRA. This should give you peace of mind that you are receiving good advice from a regulated professional.