If you think you, or a family member, has been the victim of medical negligence then you may be entitled to make a claim and receive compensation. This guide will explain the process of making a claim and answer the common questions asked.

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What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence, which is also known as clinical negligence, is a breach of a duty of care by a medical professional. This breach of care could be a doctor failing to diagnose a patient, medication errors being made by doctors or nurses, or careless procedures are done by surgeons, to name just a few. Medical negligence by a medical professional may have caused injury, disability or even death. If this is the case for you or a family member, you may be entitled to make a medical negligence claim. If you are considering doing so, you must seek advice from an expert as soon as possible as there are many time limits in place for making complaints. Details of these time limits are mentioned below.

Why make a medical negligence claim?

The first thing you should do is contact an expert who specialises in medical negligence claims. You should inform them of your situation and explain in as much detail as possible what happened. Your solicitor will then follow a procedure to determine whether or not you have a valid claim, and if so, assist you in pursuing this claim. Sometimes, it will become apparent at this stage that there has simply been a misunderstanding or a problem in communication. If this is the case, you will be advised to speak to the medical professional or service involved, as this could result in the problem being resolved without having to proceed with the claim. A solicitor will often advise that before starting legal proceedings, you should write a formal letter of complaint to the establishment. They will specifically advise you to do this if you are after an apology or there is specific behavior that you would like to change.

Medical negligence claim procedure

Your solicitor will firstly gain access to any medical records which are relevant to your case. The next step is to involve specialist medical experts who will review the reports, records, and your statement and either support the claim or explain that the claim is not valid. In this step, the medical experts will address three main issues:

  1. Breach of duty – they will decide whether or not the standard of care you received was below the average expected.
  2. Causation – experts will establish the link between the breach of a duty of care and the injury/disability caused. If they cannot make a link between the two, you will be told your claim is not sustainable.
  3. Quantum – they will decide and discuss with you the amount of compensation you should receive.

  When the medical experts feel they have enough information in their report, they will give you a final decision on whether or not you should proceed with the claim. They will not advise you to continue if they feel legal proceedings are not necessary.

How long will my medical negligence claim take?

Making a medical negligence claim can be a lengthy process. The time it takes can depend on many factors which are out of your solicitor’s control. For example; the availability of medical experts, court timetables, and how the medical service responds to your claim (if they seriously defend their actions, this can take much longer to resolve).

Medical negligence time limits

As mentioned above, there are time limits in place for making a medical negligence claim. This is why it is important to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to avoid exceeding these limits. Any legal action must be taken within three years of the injury/disability/death. If the case is of a child, the three years will not begin until their 18th birthday. So if an injury or disability was caused during birth, you have until their 21st birthday to make a claim. However, it is always advised to do so as early as possible. Learn more about the Clinical Negligence Protocol here.

How will my medical negligence claim be funded?

Funding your medical negligence claim should be discussed with your solicitor at your first meeting. During this meeting, you should do the following;

  • Ensure you know what the total costs are likely to be
  • Ask your solicitor if you are entitled to public funding and if so, be sure that they will assist you in applying for it.

  You should also receive a ‘care letter’ from your solicitor’s firm. This should outline the firm’s fee structure and the procedures they take regarding payments. If you are claiming on behalf of a child, they may be eligible for Community Legal Service (CLS) which was formally known as Legal Aid. For CLS to be awarded, the Legal Services Commission must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to make the claim. To find out more about how Cute Injury can help, get in touch today:

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