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Pursuing a Claim for Clinical Negligence

If you are seeking compensation for negligent treatment received by you then you should instruct a specialist clinical negligence Solicitor who will pursue a civil claim on your behalf.  Some of the relevant issues relating to your case will be:

Negligence

To succeed it will be necessary to establish:

  • That the health care provider was negligent and;
  • That the negligent treatment has caused you injury or damage

Test For Negligence

The test is whether or not the standard of care received fell below the acceptable standard of a reasonable body of medical opinion in the relevant field.  It would be a defence to a claim for clinical negligence if a responsible body of medical practitioners in the relevant field would have provided the same treatment or where the outcome is a recognised complication or risk involved in the treatment.

Evidence

Evidence of negligence is obtained by our instructing medical experts in the relevant field to examine our clients and provide reports as to whether or not the treatment can be regarded as negligent using the standards explained above.  For example, if we are dealing with an orthopaedic injury, we will instruct a specialist orthopaedic surgeon to examine our client and provide the relevant report.

Types of Medical Evidence

We may have to obtain various types of medical evidence dealing with what is known as breach of duty, causation, condition and prognosis.  What this means is that we have to obtain evidence which deals with the question as to whether or not there has been negligent treatment; if so, whether that negligence has caused the problems of which the client is complaining; details of the injuries sustained by the client as a result of the negligent treatment; and finally, opinion as to the long term effects of the negligence. 

Negotiated Settlements

Once we have obtained our expert medical evidence, if this is supportive of the claim then we put forward a claim on behalf of our client to the representatives of the negligent practitioner or hospital setting out full details of the claim against them.  They will then carry out their own investigations and respond to say whether or not they admit negligence and/or causation of the injury. If, they accept responsibility, then cases are often settled by way of negotiation without the requirement to issue Court proceedings. 

Court Proceedings

If cases cannot be settled by way of negotiation or if the claim is disputed and our expert evidence supports the case, then we will issue Court proceedings and proceed towards trial.  It should be noted that even when we do have to issue Court proceedings, we are able to settle the majority of cases before trial by way of negotiation and very few cases get as far as trial.

Damages

There are two types of damages that are normally claimed;

General Damages

These are claimed for pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the negligent treatment. 

Special Damages

These are items of financial loss such as loss of earnings, travel expenses, medical expenses, and cost of care.  They often include a large element of future loss and expense, particularly in the cases involving more serious injury.  We shall take full and detailed evidence from you to make sure that each and every item of loss is included in your claim.  Quite often, in the more serious cases, we will have to involve experts to assess future expenditure on special equipment, accommodation and care.  We have our own register of experts whom we instruct to provide reports on these matters on our behalf.

Limitation

You have a period of 3 years from the date of the negligent act or treatment or from the date that you first became aware that you had suffered a significant injury as a result of the treatment, to issue Court proceedings.  Accordingly during that 3 year period you must either agree a negotiated settlement or alternatively you will have to issue Court proceedings.  Beyond the 3 year period you may lose your right to recover compensation.  For children, the 3 year limitation period does not start to run until their 18th birthday and in most cases involving an injured person with mental incapacity, where that person has been mentally incapacitated since the negligent treatment or within the 3 year period after the negligent treatment, then limitation will not apply.  This means that claims can normally be brought on their behalf even where the usual 3 year limitation period has expired.  In this regard, we have represented a number of families with brain injured adults, who sustained brain injury at birth.  We have been able to successfully bring claims for damages on their behalf even though the negligent treatment occurred 20 or 30 years ago.

For support and advice, call us on 0191 5666 500 and ask for a member of the Clinical Negligence Team of complete our short enquiry form and one of our experts will get back to you shortly.

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