What Happens When You Make A Medical Negligence Claim
What Happens When You Make A Medical Negligence Claim?
At Oakwood Solicitors, our Medical Negligence solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with a range of cases – specialising in Spinal Cord claims, Birth Injury claims, and GP Negligence.
The prospect of making a Medical Negligence claim may seem like a daunting idea. To address this, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to shed light on what the process entails.
1. Making an Enquiry
Oakwood Solicitors offer a free telephone consultation where we will discuss your concerns in detail and be able to assess whether or not you have ground to make a claim for medical negligence.
This will depend on whether you can prove that the treatment or care you received fell below an acceptable standard (breach of duty), and subsequently if this care caused, or worsened, your condition (causation).
Following your telephone consultation, we will assess the prospects of success in your case.
2. Conditional Fee Agreement
If we accept your case, we will operate on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means even if the claim is unsuccessful there is no financial risk to you in paying legal costs. In addition to this, we recommend you obtain insurance to protect you against payment for disbursements. These are costs incurred by MLS on behalf of the client, such a medical report.
This information is clearly set out in the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) which serves as a binding legal contract between you and us.
In the post, along with the CFA, you will receive forms authorising the release of your medical records. We will then request your records from your GP and hospital. Healthcare providers have 40 days to provide the records but the process often takes longer.
Once we receive full copies of your medical records, they will be checked, sorted and paginated so that a chronology of treatment can be prepared.
3. Gathering Evidence
- Witness Statement – At this stage, we will meet with you to draw up a witness statement. This will be an official document which reports your account of events. We will work together to make your statement as detailed as possible and ensure that you are happy with the final draft.
- Instruction of Experts and Instruction of Counsel – We will instruct the relevant experts to advise whether the treatment or care you received fell below an acceptable standard (breach of duty) and if so whether this treatment caused or worsened your condition (causation). We may also obtain an opinion from a barrister about prospects of success.
4. Pre-Action Protocol
After we have drawn together evidence and thoroughly investigated you claim, we will draft a Letter of Notification forewarning the defendants a Letter of Claim is to follow.
A Letter of Claim is used to set out detailed allegations to the defendant regarding how care has fallen below the expected standard (breach of duty) and the resulting harm this caused (causation).
The Defendant(s) has 4 months to provide a Letter of Response whereby they will either admit or deny the claim.
In light of the Letter of Response, it is possible for the claim to settle at this stage. If not, a decision will be made whether or not to commence formal Court proceedings.
5. Issue and Service of Proceedings
A claim is commenced in either the High Court or the County Court by issuing a document called a Claim Form. This will be served upon the defendant no later than 4 months from the date of issue, along with the Particulars of Claim which set out detailed allegations of negligence.
The defendant then has 56 days to serve their response whereby they will provide a Defence or admit liability for the claim.
6. Allocation to Track and Case Management Conference
This stage involves the Court determining how the claim will be dealt with; this is called allocation to track. The Court will allocate the case to either fast track, multi-track or small claims. The track selected will depend on the complexity and value of the case.
A timetable will also be set for the steps leading up to trial; this will include the exchange of documents held by both parties, the date of hearing, and a date for the trial.
7. Exchange of Witness Statements
Your witness statement will now be served on the defendant including your account of events and the impact your injuries have on your day-to-day life. We will also serve statements from any other relevant witnesses such as your family members.
The defendant will serve witness statements from relevant medical and nursing staff.
8. Exchange of Expert Reports and Experts’ Discussion
We will serve on the defendant copies of our final expert reports. The defendant will serve on us copies of their reports which we will then circulate to our experts for comment.
Following the exchange, our expert and the defendant’s expert will try to identify areas of agreement and disagreement. This is an attempt to narrow the issues that may need to be decided at trial. The experts will produce a signed joint statement detailing the outcome.
9. Joint Settlement Meeting
Next, we will meet the defendant’s legal team with you, to try and negotiate a settlement without the need for, and expense of, a trial.
It is possible for your claim to settle at any point from the Letter of Claim onwards. The Court strongly encourages early settlement of cases and most claims that proceed do settle without the need for a trial.
By this stage, the date of trial will have been set for some time. It is usually scheduled to take place within 12-18 months of the Claim Form being issued at Court.
In the unlikely scenario that your case does go to trial, your MLS solicitor will have carried out a wealth of detailed preparation and will ensure you have all the support you need.
What should you do next?
Claims for Medical Negligence involve complex legal and medical issues, and we understand that the prospect of pursuing a case may seem like an intimidating idea.
We hope to have put your mind at ease with this step-by-step guide. As a client, you can rest assured that our team of professional, devoted and expert solicitors are highly experience in fighting for the compensation you deserve.
If you, or a loved one, have been let down by the medical profession and suffered an injury as a result, please do not hesitate to contact Oakwood Solicitors on 0113 200 9787, for some free, confidential advice to see if you can make a claim for Clinical Negligence.
Article written by Bethany Hall, Legal Administrator for the Clinical Negligence Department at Oakwood Solicitors.