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The Clinical Negligence Claims Process

08 October 2018

Coming to terms with the fact that a doctor or hospital has been negligent in their treatment of you is often hard to deal with.

Bringing a claim against the NHS, a GP or a private doctor can be a difficult decision for people and there is a misapprehension in the press that such claims are brought by those looking for a cash bonus. In fact, the purpose of a clinical or medical negligence claim is to try and put you in the position you would have been in had the negligence never happened, to the extent that compensation and any resulting treatment is able to do so. Very often, when people have suffered at the hands of negligence, they need support in order to rehabilitate themselves and provide for their family or to pay the bills and mortgage when they are unable to work. It is every person’s right to have treatment on a private basis rather than rely on NHS provided treatment if they have suffered at the hands of negligence. At Barlow Robbins, we have specialist medical negligence solicitors who are accredited with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. We are experienced in sensitively managing these types of claims and at helping you as much as possible to get your life back together.

The Clinical Negligence Claims Process:

  1. Obtain your medical records
  2. Review and sort your records
  3. Consider appropriate medical experts to consult on your behalf
  4. Instruct experts to prepare reports regarding the standard of care provided and/or your injuries
  5. Write a letter of claim to the Defendant
  6. Value your claim
  7. Issue court proceedings on your behalf
  8. Manage your case to trial/settlement

Do I have a clinical negligence claim?

Proving that there has been medical negligence can be a difficult step in the clinical negligence claims process. First and easiest, you must prove that you were owed a duty of care. Second, you must show that the GP and/or hospital breached that duty of care. This means that you must prove that the standard of care was substandard. It is not enough that the doctor made the wrong decision, if that decision was reasonable in the circumstances they faced. You must show that the decision about your care was so poor that no other reasonably competent doctor would have done the same. To help prove your case, we will obtain the expert opinion of an independent medical expert on your behalf. Third, you must prove that because of that poor care, your outcome was worse than it would have been had the care been adequate. This is often the most difficult point to prove.

We are very experienced in dealing with people who have suffered from the following:

What compensation will I get?

If you have a successful medical negligence claim, you will be awarded compensation for the pain, suffering and other losses/expenses that you have incurred because of the negligent treatment that you have received. It may not result in any disciplinary action and you may not even receive an apology from the medical practitioner. There are three elements to compensation awards: (1) General Damages, (2) Special Damages: Past Losses and (3) Special Damages: Future Losses.

General Damages: This is the compensation for the injury itself, the pain and suffering you have experienced and the inability to live and enjoy life as before. The amount is assessed by the Court in accordance with an established formula. The amount will depend on the nature and seriousness of your injury. To establish the level of compensation, we will obtain your medical records and the opinion of medical experts. It is sensible to start keeping a pain diary which records all the pain, discomfort and interference with your day to day life.

Special Damages (Past Losses): This is the compensation for any financial losses that have been incurred as a result of the injury which would not otherwise have been incurred. It includes things like travel expenses for medical appointments; the cost of adaptations to your home; equipment that you have had to pay for; lost earnings whilst you have been unable to work; or care given to you by family or friends.

Special Damages (Future Losses): Compensation is intended to try and put the injured person back in the position they would have been in if there had been no clinical negligence. Money can do this to a certain extent, but where the injury is both profound and permanent, clearly it cannot do this. However, by ensuring you have the means to pay for therapy, equipment, transport and care, it can help to maximise your potential to live as full and independent a life as possible, improving your quality of life.

Will I be able to afford it?

Claims can be expensive so we often act for clients on a 'no win no fee' basis. Sometimes you may already have insurance that will fund your claim. We will always find a solution that puts your mind at rest so that you do not worry about the costs.

Time limit

You usually have three years from the date you first knew or suspected (or should have known or suspected) that you were injured as a result of a medical incident to issue court proceedings, otherwise you may be prevented from bringing your claim.

How will it work?

First of all, our solicitors will have a no-obligation discussion with you to find out about your circumstances. If we think that you have a viable claim, we will ensure that there is a suitable funding arrangement in place so that you do not have to worry about costs. We will then obtain all of your medical notes and quite often, we will find an independent medical expert to provide a report. We will write to the insurers of the hospital trust, ambulance trust, GP or other medical practitioner setting out your claim and inviting them to admit liability. If liability is admitted, we will focus on ensuring that you will be awarded a suitable sum. If liability is denied, we may need to issue court proceedings. The court will then set a timetable by which steps in the proceedings need to be taken, for example, when we have to submit witness statements and expert reports. It is extremely rare for cases to go all the way to a trial and we fight hard to settle your case long before it reaches that point. Nonetheless, claims can be stressful so we support you throughout the process and handle the day to day running of the claim for you.