Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to frequently asked questions about personal injury claims, clinical negligence compensation claims and the conveyancing process below, or call Liddy's Solicitors for more information.
What is clinical negligence?
Clinical negligence, or medical negligence as it is often referred to, occurs when medical professionals fail in their duty of care towards a patient. Examples of this include a surgical error, a misdiagnosis, the mishandling of a birth, drugs being incorrectly prescribed or administered, a fracture being missed, misleading a patient about their treatment or failure to take the right steps to combat the spread of infections in a hospital.
Deciding whether clinical negligence occurred is not always straightforward, as all treatments involve an element of risk and an adverse outcome is not necessarily evidence of a failure in care. If you believe you have grounds for a claim, one of Liddy’s Solicitors’ clinical negligence specialists will help establish whether or not doctors or other medical staff fulfilled their duty of care towards you.
To make a successful compensation claim, it is not enough to simply demonstrate that negligence occurred, there also needs to be evidence that it caused some kind of damage or injury. Examples of negligence that did not affect the outcome of treatment are likely to be a matter for the professional bodies of the staff involved, rather than the basis for a claim.
How do I make a clinical negligence claim?
The first step towards making a clinical negligence compensation claim is to arrange an initial consultation with a specialist solicitor. This is a complex area of law, but our expert team will explain everything in detail and make sure you understand what is involved.
They will also help you to establish whether you have grounds to proceed with a claim and assess your chances of success. This process is likely to involve obtaining your medical records and asking appropriate medical experts to examine them.
How long will a medical negligence claim take?
There is no simple answer to this, as the time taken depends on the complexity of the claim and the defendant’s attitude. Obtaining all the relevant medical records and having them examined by independent medical experts will take a number of months, so you should be prepared for a lengthy process.
If the evidence is clear and the defendant is keen to reach a settlement, the claim could be completed in 10-12 months. However, it is not unknown for a claim to take three years, particularly if it ends up in court.
When should I begin a clinical negligence claim?
The general rule is that you have three years from either the date of the negligence or the date when you first became aware that the negligence caused your injury to issue proceedings. However, if you suffered the injury before your 18th birthday, you have three years from the date of your 18th birthday to begin your claim.
There are some circumstances in which different time limits may apply, but it is sensible to seek legal advice as soon as you realise you may have a claim. One of our clinical negligence specialists can assess your case and provide guidance on how to proceed within the time limits.
Will you take my case on?
When you consult us, our first job is to carry out an initial assessment of the prospects of the case based on your instructions and any available medical records. But to begin with, we need to take a view as to whether the case is sufficiently strong for us to make further enquiries. With a lot of cases, we will be able to make that decision on our first meeting, but in other cases we will need to do some background research and may need to seek the opinion of an expert witness. That might take us a few weeks or months depending on how busy the expert witness is.
If we agree to take your case on, the costs that we have incurred will be part of the no-win no fee agreement. If we do not agree to take your case on, we will write off those costs.
What do I pay if my Clinical Negligence claim succeeds?
If your claim succeeds you will have to contribute to your own legal costs, but it won’t be more than 25% of your damages. If your case loses, you will have nothing to pay so long as you have not breached your contract with us, for example by not cooperating with your own case.
We still though try to give you an idea of what legal costs we are likely to incur whilst running the case, because you will be contributing if you win.
It can only be a broad estimate though because some cases settle before court proceedings are issued, perhaps 6 or 12 months after beginning the case. Other cases settle at trial which might be 2 years or a little more after the beginning of the case. And some cases will involve 1 expert on both sides and other cases will involve a lot of expert reports.
Doing the best that we can, if the case settles before the issue of proceedings, then typically the total costs incurred on your file will be approximately £30,000-£60,000 plus VAT, though they may be more or less than that. If the case goes to trial, then significantly more costs are incurred. Typically, the costs would be between £60,000 and £150,000.
Will I have to give evidence in court?
Only about two per cent of clinical negligence claims go to court. If the evidence we amass to support your claim is clear, the defendant will almost certainly choose to settle and agree a compensation payment without you having to give evidence in court.
Is it possible to win a claim against the NHS?
In short, yes. NHS trusts pay out millions of pounds to victims of clinical negligence each year and, at any one time, there are thousands of ongoing claims against medical staff, hospitals and clinics in the public sector.
Claims are not restricted to the NHS. Private hospitals, cosmetic surgery clinics, dentists and other healthcare practitioners all have the same duty of care towards patients, and can be held legally responsible for injuries caused by negligence.
How much compensation will I receive?
The amount of compensation you will recover depends on the precise details of your case. The size of the damages paid will reflect the severity of the injury suffered, loss of earnings and the cost of ongoing care and private treatment related to the injury.
Our clinical negligence team will give you advice on what financial records you should keep to help calculate damages once the claim reaches the settlement stage.
What can I make a clinical negligence claim for?
If you can demonstrate the hospital or staff involved were negligent and that the failure in care caused an injury, you can make a claim.
Among the most common examples of clinical negligence claims are:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Birth trauma
- Maternal injuries
- Mismanagement of fractures
- Surgical errors
- Anaesthetic failure
- Spinal injuries
- Hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA
- Incorrectly prescribed medicines
- Cosmetic surgery errors
If you believe you have reason to make a clinical negligence claim, call Liddy’s Solicitors on 01226 731314 (Barnsley) or 01924 780753 (Wakefield) to speak to one of our experts or email us on email@example.com.
How to choose a compensation solicitor
Once you think you have a case for compensation, you need to find a good accredited solicitor to help you.
Deciding to take legal action to obtain compensation for an injury or loss is a big decision. Many people rush into compensation cases, lured by the possibility of large financial awards, without taking the time to check whether their solicitor has the qualifications or expertise to manage your case efficiently and successfully.
A compensation case can take some time from start to finish, and so it is worth spending an extra few days on selecting your solicitor. Television, radio, magazines and the internet are full of compensation firms looking for business, and you should know how to distinguish the good from the bad. Choosing the wrong solicitor can result in an unsuccessful claim or one where you end up paying the solicitor a large percentage of your award.
How can I check a solicitor’s track record?
Talk to people you know who have had successful injury claims, read the local papers and talk to friends and family. Good solicitors will have a good reputation, and you can check whether they are regulated by the Law Society of England and Wales by typing their names into the Law Society’s website. Make sure that the solicitors you are considering have a good track record of successful cases that they have demonstrated, that they see cases through to the end and that they can handle court cases where necessary.