Solicitor Caroline Webber-Brown answers your top 10 questions on starting a clinical negligence claim
1. What Is Clinical Negligence?
Clinical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to provide care to an acceptable standard causing you injury or harm.
2. How do I find a specialist clinical negligence lawyer?
A clinical negligence lawyer will support and guide you through the process of bringing a claim. It is important that your lawyer is a specialist in clinical negligence and has experience in this niche and complex area of law. Clinical negligence claims are complicated, so a good understanding of the issues that commonly arise is essential. Our lawyers publish case studies and reviews to assist you in finding a lawyer with experience and expertise. We are also recommended by The Legal 500: an independent guide to law firms in the UK, and ranked highly by the legal review website ReviewSolicitors.
If you are invested in starting a clinical negligence claim then you can contact us in confidence for a free, no obligation chat about how we can help you.
3. Is there a time limit for making a clinical negligence claim?
You have three years from the event that caused you harm to issue court proceedings. Often in clinical negligence claims patients are unaware that a mistake has been made until after the event. Therefore, you are allowed three years to bring a claim from your “date of knowledge”, ie the date you first found out that something had gone wrong in your care.
For children, the three-year time limit does not start to run until their 18th birthday. If an adult has not claimed on behalf of the child during their childhood, on turning 18 the child can bring a claim themselves. If an adult does not have mental capacity the time limit is longer. Our lawyers will be able to assist you in deciding if you are still in time to bring a claim.
4. How do I prove my clinical negligence claim?
As the person bringing the claim, the onus is on you and your legal team to prove that what happened to you was ‘negligent’ and that this negligence caused your injury. Our lawyers will be able to advise you on what evidence is required and help you obtain this. Typically the following would be used to prove a clinical negligence claim:
- Witness statements from you and family/friends setting out what happened and how this has impacted you.
- Medical records from your GP, Hospitals and Clinics attended.
- Photographs of your injury.
- Reports from a medical expert – this is an important aspect in proving your claim. Simply having a hunch something went wrong is not sufficient. You are required to have expert evidence setting out that the medical professional failed to provide you acceptable care.
- Financial evidence to establish any losses/expenses you have incurred as a result of the injury or harm.
5. How long does a medical negligence claim take?
Each clinical negligence claim is different and the length of time it takes to resolve a claim will depend on how complicated the case is, whether your injury is ongoing and the defendant’s position on the claim. If the Defendant admits negligence, your claim will be concluded quicker than a claim in which legal lability is denied. On average, claims take between 1 to 3 years to conclude.
6. How is compensation calculated?
Our lawyers will consider a lot of information and different factors to provide a full assessment of the value of your claim. Typically, when considering compensation, we will factor in:
- the severity of your injury;
- how long it took you to recover;
- how this impacts your everyday life (including your ability to continue working, participating in family and social life);
- any loss of earnings or pension;
- the cost of ongoing treatment and care needs; and
- any other expenses you incur as a result of the negligence.
7. What can I do to make my clinical negligence claim a success?
Once you appoint a solicitor, it is important to work closely with them and provide information as quickly as possible. By working together as a team you will improve your chances of getting a successful outcome. You can help us by:
- Taking photographs of your injuries;
- Making a detailed note of what happened and when;
- Keeping a diary of your symptoms and medical treatment;
- Keeping all receipts and documents relating to the expenses you incur, including medication costs, car parking, treatment costs, loss of income, and payments for services you require due to your injuries, such as cleaners/carers.
- Keeping a note of the care provided to you by family and friends. This includes assistance with personal care, household chores, shopping, driving you to appointments and childcare.
8. How is a clinical negligence claim funded?
Most clinical negligence claims are funded by our No Win, No Fee Scheme. This is backed by one of the country’s leading insurers of clinical negligence claims, which will cover any expenses, such as at the cost of an expert medical report. This means you can leave us to pursue your case safely in the knowledge that if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay legal fees.
9. Can I bring a clinical negligence claim for private treatment?
People often fail to realise that it is possible to bring a claim against private doctors, hospitals, dentists, care homes, opticians, and cosmetic clinics, as well as clinicians working in the NHS, if they have failed to provide you with care to a reasonable standard.
10. Where can I get a free case assessment?
You can contact our dedicated clinical negligence helpline for a free case assessment and further guidance on starting a clinical negligence claim by calling 0333 888 0404 or by sending brief details to us by email at [email protected]