1. What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence is also known as clinical negligence. It refers to a specific area of law involving claims against the NHS, dentists, GP’s and any other healthcare professionals. Our jargon-buster glossary explains more of the terms you might hear.

2. Time limit

A claim for clinical/medical negligence must be brought within three years of the date of the negligent treatment. There are certain exceptions to this rule. However, it must be assessed on a case by case basis and the thresholds are very high.

3. Successful claim

To bring a successful claim, you must be able to show that the treatment you received, or the operation performed, fell below the standard of care that could have reasonably been expected. This does not mean however, that just because different professionals may have used a different method or treatment, that it was necessary negligent. A body of peers must agree by a majority that the treatment was negligent, not just that it was different from the way that they might have approached it.

4. Evidence

If you, or your loved ones, are concerned that you are receiving incorrect treatment, a contemporaneous note with brief details outlining your concerns and/or photographs may become useful if you decide to pursue a claim.

An important aspect of your claim will be the medical evidence. We are usually required to get reports from a number of medical experts, each report will cover one specific discipline. For example, orthopaedics, psychology, oncologist etc.

5. Process

We make an initial assessment of your case based on the information you provide to us and then we request your medical records, this includes a full history from your GP and any hospitals you attended for treatment. The outcome of our review of your medical records will determine the next steps in your claim.

6. Length of claim

The lifetime of a claim can range anywhere between 18 months to a number of years. This is largely down to the time it takes to gather the medical evidence required to support your claim.

7. Trial

Where possible, we try and reach a settlement before we issue the claim with the Court. When the claim is brought within the remit of the court, this usually means that negotiations have broken down and the only option is to pursue the matter to trial. At the point where the claim is issued at court, you can usually expect the trial to be listed for approximately 18 months to two years after the claim first issued. During this period, the parties will have to comply with a number of directions ordered by the court, including exchange of witness statements, agreeing which experts to use and updating schedules of loss.

8. Schedules of loss

This is essentially a list outlining the losses you have incurred as a result of your injury. This is an important document for Claimants as it sets out the amount of compensation that it would take to put you back into the position you would have been in ‘but for’ the injury, accident or negligence.

The schedule will also include any future losses that might occur. For instance, a sum for any further treatment required and/or if you were no longer able to pursue a certain career because of the negligence. For example, if you had a knee operation which was performed incorrectly and you were no longer able to pursue a career as a ballet dancer. If you were required to change career because of this, and the evidence shows that you would be paid much less in your new role, you can be compensated for the difference in wages.

If you can show that the negligence has a direct link to the loss, then this is something we can consider claiming for on your behalf. We look at medical negligence damages in more detail in this earlier blog.

9. Fees

If after our initial consultation with you, we consider that your claim has merits, we will undertake your matter on a Conditional Fee Agreement.  This is essentially a “no win, no fee” arrangement whereby we aim to recover our legal fees from the Defendant. Unlike other firms, we do not charge a success fee which can be up to 25% of your damages.

10. Help us, help you

We understand that being exposed to medical negligence can be a frightening, distressing and sometimes life changing occurrence. We are here to help, and we will always act in your best interests. You can help us achieve the best results for you by providing us with as much information at the outset of your claim, and if there is anything you don’t understand throughout the process – please just ask! Call us today on 0800 988 7756 for a free initial discussion with our team.