For most people with little or no knowledge of law, pursuing a medical or clinical negligence suit can seem like a daunting task. But with the right help and knowledge, you can ensure that you are making the best decisions for your future. Here are ten vital things you should know about medical negligence claims.
A medical negligence claim (sometimes known as a clinical negligence claim) occurs when a patient takes their medical practitioner or hospital (or both) to court for compensation due to an act or acts of negligence incurred during their medical care. For this to happen, the Claimant needs to prove that the care provided fell below the standard of a competent medical professional, this caused damage to their health, and would not have otherwise occurred.
Usually, a claim has to be lodged at Court within three years of the patient becoming aware of the problem — this is often when the negligence occurred. There are exceptions, including if the patient is under the age of eighteen, or lacks mental capacity. Judges may make other exceptions, although this is unlikely.
It is important to seek a specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor who is experienced and knowledgeable in the field of Medical Negligence you are pursuing. They will tell you whether they think you have a case and discuss the next steps.
Almost all cases of medical negligence are settled before they go to a full trial. In most cases, the defence will come forward followed by an offer of financial settlement. However, you should be prepared that it is possible for your claim to proceed to court, and this is very much dependant on the facts of your case.
Any and all health practitioners can be held accountable if you have the proof that they have neglected your care or similar. This includes Dentists, Cosmetic Surgeons, private clinics, and eye clinics.
It used to be that Legal Aid was available to fund medical negligence claims, but this is only available in very limited circumstances. The main option that most Claimants use to fund medical negligence claims is to enter into a Conditional Fee Agreement (more commonly known as “no win, no fee”).
Private funding is also available but is not commonly used.
If you don’t have any physical evidence it’s very unlikely that your case will go through — that is why it is so important that you keep records of absolutely everything to do with your case, no matter how unimportant it may seem. The kind of proof you need will be records, notes, correspondence, and expert medical opinions. Our team will help you to collate this evidence.
When your Solicitor first gets in contact with the medical practitioner, they will request any medical records or notes which are relevant.
In most cases of medical negligence, the process leading up to a trial can take somewhere between eighteen months to three years and sometimes longer. The duration of the claim depends on the Defendants attitude to liability and causation, the injury sustained, and the complexity of the complaint.
In the majority of cases, medical witnesses will be called upon for their professional opinion. It is this expert evidence that will help to establish the act constituted negligence, the causal link between this and the damage, and the long-term impact for the Claimant.
In this difficult time, it is important you meet with a Solicitor you trust and who can help to guide you through the various hurdles of medical negligence claims. Learning as much as you can before commencing the process will aid you in making sensible decisions.