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Medical Negligence

How long does a medical negligence claim take?

Medical negligence claims can take a long time to settle. Here we explain the steps involved and how long a medical negligence case can take.

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When considering if you want to go ahead and make a medical negligence claim, one thing that might be of concern is hows long the process will take.

While no claim is resolved overnight, there are things that can speed the process up. We will be discussing the claims process and roughly how long a medical negligence claim takes in this article.

From first speaking to a solicitor all the way to the resolution of your claim, there are a number of steps involved. Each of these will take a certain amount of time, gradually adding up over the course of your claim.

What is involved in a medical negligence claim?

Each stage of claiming compensation for medical negligence is crucial in establishing if the claim is legitimate. Some parts of the process can also involve liaising between different parties.

Finding out if you have a case

The first step is raising your case with a medical negligence solicitor. When you speak to a member of our legal team we will arrange a consultation to take some initial details.

Here we will listen to your experience of medical negligence and ask some relevant questions to gain a deeper understanding of the situation. From there, your solicitor will review the details and inform you of whether your case can be brought forward against a responsible party.

Establishing a potential case is not too time consuming, so it all depends how quickly you can arrange your consultation with our legal experts.

Gathering the relevant information

Once we have agreed that your claim can proceed, the next stage will be to gather evidence relevant to your experience.

This is required to help prove that the negligence took place and establish what harm was caused as a result. Examples of the evidence required include:

  • records of medical examinations (x-rays, ultrasounds, etc.)
  • detailed statements of your experience
  • expert opinions from medical professionals
  • witness statements from third parties (friends, family, etc.)
  • financial evidence linked to your injury

As part of this evidence, independent medical experts will be instructed to prepare reports in order to provide proof that there was a breach of duty and that harm has been caused. These two areas are essential in validating a case of medical negligence and estimating compensation.

Some of your records may take time to obtain, particularly as a formal request will need to be made to gain access to your medical records. There is no set amount of time that evidence gathering can take, but the more thoroughly that evidence is gathered, the longer it will likely take.

If, at any stage, you feel like you need an update as you are still asking the question ‘how long does a medical negligence claim take?’, your solicitor will keep you updated at regular intervals as to what stage your claim is currently at. They will also handle the process of compiling and assessing of evidence.

Presenting your claim to the defendant

After all the relevant evidence has been collected and reviewed, your case will be ready to be presented to the defendant. The defendant is the individual or party deemed responsible for your experience of medical negligence.

This will be done through a letter of claim. The document will provide a summary of the allegations of medical negligence being directed toward them, as well as a level of detail that will allow them to value a claim.

The timeframe for a response is up to four months, during which the defendant can investigate and gather their own report on the events. Their response will confirm that they either contest the claim or admit to the details of the claim:

  • If the defendant is admitting that they caused medical negligence in regard to your claim, the next step will be to explore settlement. This could be through an offer made in writing or a meeting between parties to negotiate compensation.

What happens if a medical negligence claim goes to court?

There are two reasons why your claim could end up going to court:

  • The two parties cannot agree on a viable settlement and negotiations have broken down
  • The defendant denies the claim but the claimant wishes to contest this

A barrister is typically instructed to review your claim and may request that evidence is tested to ensure it stands up to scrutiny. If it does, then court proceedings may begin.

This does not necessarily mean that your claim will be taken to trial. The court will set a timetable that aims to resolve the claim, setting dates for experts to consult with each other to overcome any disagreements.

If an agreement still cannot be reached by both parties at this stage, then a judge may decide that the claim need to go to trial. This will usually be decided upon based on the value of the claim and the benefits of taking it to trial. However, most medical negligence cases do ultimately settle prior to a trial hearing.

How long does a medical negligence case take?

As you can see, there are many stages to a medical negligence claim. When it comes to how long medical negligence claims take to settle, many claims can take several years to be resolved, whether they end up going to court or not.

If your claim is issued at court, the average time that elapses before the case is actually put before the court can be anywhere between 18 months to two years. That is on top of the time already spent on the other stages.

Your solicitor will advise you at each stage of the process what the estimated timeframe will be to reach the next point in the process. No matter how long your claim goes on for, you will be supported throughout your claim by your legal team.

Been Let Down will support you every step of the way

Making a medical negligence claim can be a daunting prospect with a long road ahead – but that is why we are here to help. Our medical negligence experts are here to help you throughout the process and to provide reassurance, no matter how long it takes to get the result you deserve.

Taking that first step is sometimes the hardest, but don’t worry. Speak to us today and we can answer any concerns or queries you may have before getting your claim underway.

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