As if the NHS wasn’t facing enough challenges against the backdrop of the coronavirus, it also faced paying out up to £4.3 billion in legal fees to settle outstanding medical negligence claims.
While not all of these claims will ultimately require a financial payout, the NHS also receives more than 10,000 new compensation requests each year, while the rise of no-win, no-fee legal representation has also triggered an exponential increase in annual claims numbers.
In this post, we’ll explore the role of a solicitor in medical negligence claims, from driving the legal process to negotiating a viable compensation package on behalf of patients.
Determining Your Case and Making a Claim
The term ‘medical negligence refers to instances where licensed practitioners (such as doctors, nurses, and surgeons) fail in their duty of care to patients.
This can take numerous forms, from instances of missed or misdiagnosis to prescription administration errors and mistakes that occur during surgery.
Ultimately, the main objective of a medical negligence solicitor is to secure a fair and desirable level of compensation for their clients, and one that relates to the financial harm caused by malpractice alongside other physical and mental impacts over time.
This remuneration should at least be enough to compensate patients for their injuries or subsequent impairment, while the total amounts paid out will vary depending on the extent and complexity of each individual case.
At the beginning of a claim, a solicitor will usually provide a completely free consultation, enabling them to assess the patient’s claim and determine whether they have a viable legal case.
Most importantly, they’ll establish your ability to demonstrate a clear link between medical malpractice and any subsequent harm caused, in order to prove who exactly is at fault. This will require solicitors to examine medical records, testimony, and evidence, alongside relevant witness statements and key documentation that you’re able to provide.
How Long Can Your Medical Negligence Claim Take?
If your case is proven, your solicitor will progress with the claim, engaging with opposing lawyers before entering into a period of negotiation regarding compensation.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind here. Firstly, you’ll have just three years from the date that the negligence occurred (or the point where you became aware of the associated injuries) to successfully raise a legal claim unless the patient is under the age of 18 or experiencing mental and cognitive impairment as a result of malpractice.
What’s more, negotiations and the overall claims process can take considerable periods of time, particularly when dealing with complex and serious cases where large amounts of money are at stake or the practitioner in question is refusing to accept fault.
This could lead to a lengthy court process, during which you’ll need a solicitor to move efficiently, minimize costs and optimize your chances of achieving a positive result.