Medical Negligence FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few questions that clients and prospective clients frequently ask. We hope that our explanations are helpful to you.

What is Medical Negligence?

Negligent medical treatment occurs when a medical professional provides care which falls below the acceptable legal standard. If you have suffered an injury (either physical or psychiatric) as a result of substandard care, you are entitled to make a claim. Tragically, in some cases medical negligence can result in the death of a patient. We are experienced in representing families in ”fatal” medical negligence claims.

Potential cases can be investigated and claims brought against GPs, hospitals (for the actions of their doctors, surgeons, nurses, midwives, therapists etc), dentists and others who provide similar treatment or care.

The terms ”medical negligence” and ”clinical negligence” are generally used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

How do I make a claim for medical negligence?

Please call a member of our team on 01273 249200 for a free initial consultation about your claim. We will advise you on the merits of your potential medical negligence case and, if appropriate, how we will assist by representing you. It is essential that you pursue any claim at the earliest opportunity as there are time limits which can prevent you from making a claim in clinical negligence if the relevant deadline has passed.

Both legal and medical language can be confusing at times. We acknowledge this and make a special effort to ensure that you are always kept up to date with the status of your case without using unnecessary jargon.

Do you offer ”No Win, No Fee” funding arrangements?

Yes, we can normally enter into a “no win no fee” agreement with you and we will also check what insurance policies you may already have to cover your legal costs.

I am nervous about making a claim against my GP or hospital doctor: should I be?

No. All GPs and other doctors and surgeons are required to have insurance to cover clinical negligence claims. NHS hospitals and units are effectively “insured” by the government scheme operated by the National Health Service Litigation Authority. You will not therefore be taking resources away from your local hospital by making a claim.

You will need to think about whether you wish to change your individual GP or surgery or hospital doctor.

We have never acted for a patient who has received less favourable treatment from their doctor after making a claim; in fact, often the opposite is true.

Can I change my solicitor once I have started a claim?

Many people do not know that they have the right to choose their own solicitor even if one is appointed for them. Insurance companies will often tell you that your case must be run by one of their panel solicitors; this is not the case. You also have the right to choose your own solicitor and to change solicitor midway through a case if you are unhappy with the way your claim is being run. If you have concerns about the level of service or quality of legal advice that you are receiving from your current solicitors and wish to discuss an existing case with us, we would be happy to do so.

If, ultimately, you decided to change solicitors, we can take care of all the arrangements in transferring your file over, making the transaction smooth and easy for you. Our aim is to see if we can add value to your claim and if we feel that it would be in your best interests to stay put then we will inform you of this.

Can I get early rehabilitation and support as a part of my claim?

Rehabilitation and other early non-financial assistance are just as important as any ultimate financial payment. We will work with you, your opponent and your treating team to best understand what rehabilitation you require and to help you obtain it.

Later, when we are looking to value your total claim, we will carefully consider all of your needs arising from the clinical negligence and ensure that you receive the maximum payment possible to provide you with the ongoing support that you need in terms of day-to-day living and, where relevant, returning to work.

Ultimately, we want you to be able to live as independently and comfortably as possible.

If I make a claim, will I have to go to Court?

The majority of clinical negligence cases will settle before a trial, which means that you are very unlikely to have to attend Court. In the unlikely event that your case does go to Court, our team will guide and advise you every step of the way so that you know what is going to happen and can prepare. It is particularly important to ensure that you have a specialist and experienced firm of solicitors instructed when the matters being disputed are complex but even the most complex of cases usually settle by negotiation, therefore avoiding a Court hearing.

How long will my case take to settle?

The length of time a case takes to settle can vary significantly. Simple cases, where liability is admitted, can be settled in around 12 months or so. Large, more complex, high value cases can take longer to settle. It is important that settlement is not rushed into and that your requirements for life are fully considered no matter how long this may take to achieve. In all appropriate cases we will apply for interim payments on account of your final damages (compensation) so that you have funds while your claim progresses.

When will I receive my compensation?

Medical negligence claims (particularly more complex cases) can last a number of years. Often, if you cannot work, you will require money to fund care / rehabilitation treatment or to make up for some of your loss of earnings. In situations like this it is possible to request that an interim payment be made. An interim payment is where part of the compensation that would be due at the end of the claim is paid early. The defendant can make this payment voluntarily or, if they will not agree to this, then an application can be made to the Court to force them to pay. We will advise you whether in your case it is appropriate to request an interim payment. Following the settlement of your case we will look to finalise all matters promptly to ensure that your compensation can be released as quickly as possible.

Will my case be passed from solicitor to solicitor?

We recognise that client care and your relationship with us is very important to you and we will endeavour to have the same small team of solicitors working on your case from the beginning to its conclusion. This enables strong relationships to be built and ensures that we have a real understanding of your case.

If I have been seriously injured, what can I make a claim for?

If you have been seriously injured as a result of medical negligence then there will come a point where a value needs to be given to how much your claim is worth. The damages that you receive can be broken down into two areas: general damages and special damages.

General damages – this is the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries; it is often know as “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”. This sum is arrived at by looking at similar, previous cases including what types of injury have been suffered and how severe they are. This is a lump sum payment usually made at the end of your claim.

Special damages – these are all items of quantifiable loss and expense incurred as a direct result of the medical negligence. In many cases these will form the largest part of the award and will often be very important to you in setting you up for the future. Special damages deal with both past losses and future losses. These include lost income, past medical expenses, care, accommodation, provision for DIY and gardening services and ongoing / future medical treatment or therapies, amongst many other things. We can offer you specialist advice to ensure you recover the maximum amount possible. Special damages are also usually paid as a lump sum at the end of your claim but in appropriate cases can be paid as ”periodical payments” whereby you will receive annual payments for life.

Will it cost me any money to speak to you about my claim?

No!

Should you require any further information or free initial advice about your potential medical negligence claim, please do not hesitate to call us on 01273 249200. Our highly experienced team of solicitors, who represent clients all over the UK, will be delighted to help you.


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Christina BournLegal Assistant