Medical procedures, diagnoses and hospital treatments sometimes go wrong and when they do the consequences can be devastating. Having recognised the signs that you may have been a victim of clinical negligence, it is important to understand what the legal process is likely to be if you are considering making a claim.
Although the majority of cases can be settled out of court, some clinical negligence claims can be extremely complex and go on for more than 24 months from the initial claim. Every medical negligence claim is unique but will typically involve the following stages:
Submitting your claim and having it assessed
If you, or someone you care for has suffered as a result of clinical negligence, then you may be entitled to make a claim. You should contact a solicitor and inform them of all the details of your case as soon as possible. You will be required to provide details of the treatment you received and the subsequent injuries sustained.
Talking to an adviser and discussing funding
Based on the details you have provided, the solicitor will determine whether to proceed with the claim. If they agree to take your case, they will discuss with you how the case will be funded. This is usually by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as ‘no win no fee’.
Investigating the claim
Your solicitor will then collect and review all the available information to assess your chances of success, before seeking further specialist advice from a medical expert. If you have reasonable prospects of succeeding with your case, your solicitor will send a letter of claim to your opponent (generally a hospital trust or GP practice) setting out full details of your claim including the circumstances surrounding your case and the allegations of negligence being made on your behalf. There will be a window of time for them to accept or deny liability.
Settling the claim
If liability is accepted, medical evidence will be obtained on your behalf by your solicitor, together with any other evidence to support your claim for injuries and loss. More often than not, your claim for compensation will be agreed and settled outside of court. However, if liability is denied, or it is accepted but the two parties cannot agree on the amount of compensation, then court proceedings will be commenced on your behalf.
Most cases will be settled one way or another without ever getting to trial, generally following meetings between the medical experts for both parties. However if the medical experts continue to hold opposing views and agreement cannot be reached between the parties to settle the case then it is likely to go ahead to a court trial.
Pursuing the claim in court
The time period between submitting a claim and the start of a trial is usually 18 to 24 months. In most cases the trial will deal with both liability and any compensation to be awarded. However, In high value complex cases where liability is in dispute the court may order a trial on liability first to decide whether your opponent is at fault. If you succeed in that trial then you can carry on with your case and normally an agreement upon the amount of compensation due to you can be reached with your opponent without any further trial. In rare cases, where agreement cannot be reached between you and your opponent, there will be a second trial to decide upon the compensation award at a later date.
Read our medical negligence case studies where Longden, Walker & Renney solicitors have obtained substantial compensation for our clients.
If you believe you may have a legitimate clinical negligence claim you should contact our expert team of solicitors. Longden, Walker & Renney have vast experience working with a variety of medical negligence cases. Call us on 0191 5666 500 or complete our online enquiry form.