What is clinical negligence/medical negligence?
Occassionally, medical care provided falls below acceptable standards and results in serious injury or death of the patient.
Medical practitioners have a duty of care to all of their patients. Negligence occurs when independent experts consider that the treatment given at the time was sub-standard. This includes misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment, lack of informed consent to treatment, delay in diagnosis and surgical mistakes by hospital doctors, midwives, GP's, health visitors, paramedics and any other medical professionals whether private or through the NHS.
Claiming against the NHS
Understandably, people can have mixed feelings about proceeding with an NHS negligence claim.
Following a serious incident, the NHS is bound to run its own internal review to highlight failings and to recommend change where appropriate. Such a report can highlight serious procedural problems that have contributed to failings and harm which prompts the hospital trust to implement staff training and other improvements to keep patients safe. The trust may also discipline staff where appropriate.
NHS Resolution (NHSR)
NHS Resolution (formerly the NHS Litigation Authority) is the legal arm of the NHS that represents Trusts and GP's in any claim against them. Most cases settle out of court, with fewer than two per cent of cases handled by the NHSR proceeding to a trial.
How to claim for medical negligence
You do not have to follow the NHS complaints procedure before beginning your own legal action but it may help your case to do so.
Instructing a specialist medical negligence solicitor is important to claiming for medical negligence compensation. They will discuss your case and tell you whether your claim is likely to succeed. Once instructed, they will request all your medical records and other information connected to your claim.
The medical negligence team at Fieldfisher is headed by Paul McNeil, considered one of the leading medical negligence solicitors in the UK. The team all follow his ethos of working extremely hard for clients and achieving the very best compensation for them to help rebuild their lives. The team is known for its expertise, sensitivity and respect and also for the high-value of its settlements.
Stages of a medical negligence claim
Your medical negligence solicitor will generally instruct expert medical witnesses to give their opinion on the treatment provided and to highlight where negligence occurred. Once evidence is collected on breach of duty and causation of injury, your solicitor will notify the defendant that a claim is being made against them and offer the chance to admit liability.
If the defendant admits liability, the next step is to valuing your claim, including aspects such as loss of earnings, the cost of ongoing medical care, adaptations to your house and the cost of specialist equipment, carers and other support workers, as well as general damages for pain and suffering. Your solicitor may also ask the defendant to make a formal apology to you.
If the trust refuses to admit liability, proceedings are issued in court and your solicitor prepares for trial. Most cases, however, settle before they go to trial.
Usually, a claim has to be lodged at Court within three years of negligence or the patient becoming aware of the problem — this is often when the negligence occurred. There are certain times when different timescales apply for bringing a claim, including if the patient is under the age of eighteen, or lacks mental capacity.
Cost of a medical negligence compensation claim
Most cases are run on a no win no fee basis, which means if your case is successful, the defendant also pays your legal costs. If for any reason your case is unsuccessful, under a no win no fee agreement we would not charge for our fees and any expenses are covered by insurance which is usually obtained.
How to begin your medical negligence claim
Any one of our team of expert medical negligence solicitors, including our dedicated team in the north of England, will be happy to answer your questions and to discuss your case with free legal advice over the phone.
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