How will Coronavirus affect my Claim?

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Since the very start of the coronavirus pandemic, so many of my clients have been asking me how their clinical negligence claim is likely to be affected, and this is something, which has only increased since the UK entered lockdown.

This is a very worrying and totally unprecedented era within our lifetimes, such that I fully appreciate the concern that clients naturally have about every aspect of their lives and the future.

As a legal firm, Been Let Down is classified as an essential businesses for facilitating the administration of justice. Therefore, I would first like to reassure all existing and future clients that we are still here for each and every one of you during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Been Let Down has enabled our employees to work from home wherever possible to protect their health in-line with the government guidelines, thereby ensuring we play our part in halting the spread of coronavirus, and to ensure we can continue to provide all our clients with the best service possible. We have upgraded our IT systems to ensure that there will be no interruption to the work we do tirelessly on your behalf, as your file handler can securely work on your matter remotely and has all the necessary tools and software to continue working efficiently on your behalf.

We continue to be able to conduct meetings by phone; Skype; Zoom; and FaceTime, so that we can remain connected to you and each of our colleagues during this time of self-isolation We remain here for our clients and will continue to support access to justice during this worrying time.

In practical terms, the biggest impact of the UK coronavirus lockdown has understandably been in relation to Court hearings, as many of these were held face-to-face. As such, some adjournment of face-to-face hearings has been necessary for the safety of the public and Court staff alike. Of course, wherever possible, the Courts are trying to deal with as many hearings as they possibly can remotely by telephone conferencing, or by video, via Skype and other similar services.

All legal personnel, whether they be solicitors, barristers or Court staff have been rallying round to make this work for the continued administration of justice during this difficult and unprecedented time. Indeed, just the other day, a senior clinical negligence barrister with whom I regularly work was telling me about his experience of conducting a Trial hearing via Skype. His opinion? Well, there were a few technical glitches, but everyone involved, including the presiding Judge, worked extremely hard to make it work and they got through the full Trial hearing.

In my experience, all parties have been working very hard to ensure that there is as little disruption as humanly possible to the progression of cases. This includes Defendant’s representatives, including NHS Resolution, who handle claims on behalf of hospital Trusts, who are predominantly working remotely and are using every available tool to keep cases on track.

In this regard, I have encountered an unprecedented level of co-operation, with all parties seeking to agree any necessary extensions of time. This has inevitably included extending time for receipt of medical evidence and other documents that depend on those reports, such as responses to letters of claim, as medical experts have necessarily been prevented from seeing clients in face-to-face consultations, although where possible they have conducted telephone and video consultations.

This spirit of co-operation has also included, where necessary, agreeing extensions to the Limitation period for claims. This is the three year time period from the date of negligence or a Claimant’s date of knowledge that something went wrong with their treatment, causing them injury, within which a claim must be settled or Court proceedings issued to protect the right to claim. This has been done in the interests of all concerned, to preserve the administration of justice, not least of which is the need to avoid placing an extra burden on the Court system at this time.

Finally, I would just like to reassure people, whether you are an existing or potential client, we are striving to ensure that we progress each claim as quickly as possible in the wake of COVID-19, and that we preserve your access to justice in these times.

I would leave you with my heartfelt best wishes at this difficult time. I hope that each of you, and your loved ones, come through this difficult crisis safe and sound, although in the meantime, we remain here for you.

Author

Neil Crossley

Solicitor and Head of Clinical Negligence (Bolton)

Can I Sue the person who has provided my medical care?

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The short answer is… possibly.

There are a number of things to consider before being able to identify if you have grounds to bring a claim. Firstly, it is important to establish whether what you are concerned about would be better dealt with via a complaint.  If you are complaining about your treatment or care in hospital, but do not think that it has made your injuries or condition worse, it is probably best dealt with via a complaint.

The NHS has well-established complaints procedure that is designed to investigate any complaints, and attempt to provide an explanation, but can’t always provide a resolution. All NHS complaints are dealt with by the NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), PALS is not responsible for disciplining or dismissing medical practitioners, or for awarding compensation.

FIND OUT IF YOU HAVE A CLAIM
 

Private healthcare providers don’t have such a sophisticated complaints procedure, but they do have one, and you should request a copy of their complaints procedure from them directly.  If you are complaining to PALS about your NHS care, you generally have 12 months from the date of the care to complain. (Further information on PALS and making a complaint to the NHS can be found here). We advise patients to be careful with regards the timings as there is a limited time to bring a claim (see section on limitation periods below). If you are unsure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can provide further guidance.

Making a complaint doesn’t bar you from bringing a claim, but if you believe that you have suffered injury, a worsening of your condition, due to a specific act, or failure to act, of a medical, then you may have cause for a clinical negligence claim.  If you believe that you deserve compensation for the negligent act or omission, and its impact on your health and wellbeing, then you need to seek advice on bringing a case, by way of a medical negligence claim.

Do I have a valid clam?

In order to successfully pursue a clinical negligence claim we must establish the following two principles to the satisfaction of the court:-

Breach of Duty

To establish negligence, you must be able to show that the treatment you received fell below the standard of a reasonably competent practitioner in the relevant field of medicine. This means that the practitioner concerned must have treated you in such a way that a responsible body of like practitioners would not consider this to be acceptable treatment. The bar is set quite high in terms of the requirements to evidence a breach of duty on the part of the treating clinicians.

Causation

If you are to establish that there was a lack of care/breach of duty on the part of the treating clinicians (GP and/or treating Consultant etc), then you need to show to the satisfaction of the Court, that the lack of care or substandard care has caused you additional damage or injury.

To prove your case, an independent medical expert will need to support your case that there has been a breach of duty and that you have suffered as a result.

Limitation

It is important that if you think you may have a claim against the NHS, or another medical practitioner, that you act promptly.  Court proceedings must be issued in court within 3 years of the substandard treatment or within 3 years of you becoming aware that you have suffered an injury as a result of negligent treatment (your date of knowledge).

There are exceptions to this rule and limitation is a complex area of law, so your best option is to contact one of our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors, and enlist their specific legal advice on this subject together with your current legal options.

Through a free initial consultation, one of our expert NHS Negligence Solicitors will help to explore the question of; can I sue the NHS or other medical practitioner for negligence. They will consider your version of events to consider whether the above conditions are met. If they think that your case meets the above criteria for suing the NHS or other medical practitioner, and that you have a reasonable chance of making a successful claim, then we may agree to take on your case. Our team of Medical Negligence Solicitors have a wealth of expertise and experience in this type of case and are highly regarded in their field, so you will be in excellent legal hands.

Financing your case

Our expert Medical Negligence solicitors can discuss funding options with you further, but most of our cases are run on ‘No Win No Fee’ basis. This is a Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA. This, in simple terms, means that if the claim is not successful, if you have been open and honest with us, we will not charge any fee.

BLD — Specialist Professional and Medical Negligence Solicitors

Here at Been Let Down, we are experts in this very niche area of the law, and have a proven track record of many years of winning medical negligence claims against the NHS, and other medical practitioners. Our team have secured millions of pounds in compensation for their injured clients and their families.  Whether you’re ready to begin your compensation claim against the NHS, or simply want to ask advice on how to bring a case against any medical practitioner, we can offer you helpful and trusted legal advice via a free no-obligation consultation meeting with one of our specialist clinical negligence team.

Been Let Down ensure that any time anyone approaches us for advice on making a clinical negligence claim against the NHS, or another medical provider, we will listen sensitively and advise you on whether or not you have grounds for a claim against the NHS, or other medical provider.

If we determine that you do have grounds for an NHS negligence claim, then we will most likely offer to take on representation of your claim on a No Win No Fee Basis. To find out more about whether you qualify, just give us a call on 0800 234 3234.

Once you’ve been in touch, one of our experienced NHS Negligence Solicitors will call you back promptly in order to discuss the details of your case further. All of our initial consultations are totally Free and offered on a No-Obligation Basis.

Contact us at Been Let Down today and let us help you get the compensation that you deserve to get you back on your feet, to help with things like rehabilitation costs and to cover lost income.

We’re here to help with your medical negligence claim

Get in touch today and find out how we can help with your case for clinical negligence compensation.

Please call us on 0800 234 3234 or contact us and a member of our legal team will call you back.