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Insight

Jonathan Zimmern and Jamie Green highlight how a defendant's strategy can impact a medical negligence claim

12/04/2021
People pursuing a medical negligence claim are generally dealing with catastrophic, life-changing injuries which they are required to relive and discuss as part of that claim.

Our job as medical negligence solicitors is to alleviate any worries as far as possible and to make the process as quick and painless as we can. The ultimate aim, of course, is to achieve settlement on their behalf to get them the vital care and treatment they need, and which will allow them to live their life to the fullest.

Certain 'roadblocks' often arise that can delay the claims process. Unfortunately, some of these are unavoidable, whereas others are caused by parties involved in the claim, usually the defendants.

Our own experience is that establishing a good relationship with the defendant's solicitors and developing a collaborative approach to proceedings can make the daunting prospect of litigation much easier and stress-free for our clients. It ultimately benefits all parties involved to proceed in this way and almost certainly reduces the overall costs of the claim.

Two recent examples spring to mind from our own cases that illustrate this:

The first involves a client who suffered significant injuries following a procedure on her leg. The defendant solicitor instructed an expert radiologist to examine her but he was based in Liverpool, more than 200 miles from our client's home. The parties came to an impasse because the defendant insisted the client travel to Liverpool or else there would be a significant delay to their response to our allegations of negligence, whereas our opinion was that our client was simply not well enough to travel such a distance.

We have only been able to move forward with the claim because we have taken it upon ourselves to speak with the private hospital that the expert operates from, and we are currently making alternative arrangements for our client to be seen at their 'sister' hospital much closer to her home.

Our focus is always to go the extra mile in the best interests of our client. In this case, if we hadn't done so, the parties would have remained at an impasse (which would have significantly delayed the claim), or our client would have been forced to make a traumatic and incredibly painful journey to keep the claim progressing on track. With a bit more flexibility and a greater collaborative approach from the defendant's solicitors, we could have reached the same outcome without the added initial stress and uncertainty for our client.

In contrast, we recently settled a claim for our client 'Henry' who suffered a catastrophic injury during birth (read about the case here).

Throughout this case, the defendant's solicitors took a very pragmatic, reasonable and collaborative approach to the claim. An early admission of liability was made and steps were taken by both parties to ensure the case progressed as quickly as possible.

Thought was always given to our client's best interests throughout. We were able to secure the best settlement possible which will ensure Henry has the care and equipment he needs for the rest of his life. The Defendant also benefited from this approach as a settlement was agreed far earlier than perhaps would have been the case had they not engaged in such an approach. This ultimately saved them money as the legal costs built up over the lifetime of the case were lower than normal for that type of claim.

This approach was beneficial for all parties, not least Henry and his parents who received the best settlement possible whilst also avoiding additional stress and uncertainty from the legal claim at what was understandably an incredibly difficult time in their lives.

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