It is important that that you speak to a solicitor as soon as possible as there are time limits which apply to pursuing a claim. Court Proceedings need to be issued within 3 years of the negligence or within 3 years of the date that you become aware of the negligence. In cases involving a child the 3 year period does not begin to run until they are 18.
Identify a suitable solicitor
You need to identify a suitable solicitor with whom you can discuss your potential claim. Draw up your shortlist of solicitors by identifying if they have the required expertise and experience for your particular injury, looking at their track record and recommendations from satisfied clients. The Law Society has a panel of accredited clinical negligence solicitors.
Make use of the free no obligation consultation
Most medical negligence solicitors offer a free no obligation consultation where you can discuss basic facts of your potential claim. Before you make the call it is important to make a list of any key information such as:
- Where and when your injury may have taken place
- Details of injuries and symptoms
- Details of any complaints made and the response received
When speaking to a solicitor, do not be afraid to check their credentials. What experience do they have with your kind of case? It will be necessary to prove that the care you or your relative received fell below an acceptable standard (breach of duty), and that as a result you have suffered injury (causation).
After you have spoken to a solicitor you will get an indication as to whether or not you have a claim.
Agree suitable funding
You will need to agree with your solicitor the most appropriate way to fund your case. Legal Aid is only available now in very limited cases where a baby has suffered neurological injury at or around the time of their birth. If you have any Buildings and Contents insurance this may include Legal Expenses which will cover the costs of claim. If not, your solicitor may be able to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement (sometimes known as a no win – no fee agreement).
Investigating your case
Your solicitor will now begin investigating your case and take witness statements from you and other parties. They will then obtain medical records from your GP and the hospital involved. In most cases medical records are crucial in establishing if you have a good case or not. If it looks like the case will proceed medical experts will then be instructed. Once experts have reported back on your case it is sometimes necessary to speak to a Barrister and other experts to look through the details of your claim.
Letter of Claim
If the experts consider that the care you received fell below an acceptable standard, and that this has caused your injury then ‘Letter of Claim’ will be sent to the potential defendant(s) detailing your claim, highlighting the relevant allegation(s) and giving them four months to respond formally with a ‘Letter of Response’
Letter of Response & Settlement
If the potential defendant admits liability, a judgement against them can be made and your solicitor will try to establish a value of the claim and negotiate a settlement from the other side. If your claim is disputed then formal court proceedings will begin and a court will decide on the validity and value of the claim, and award what it determins to be an appropriate settlement.
If you would like to speak to a solicitor to find out if you have a claim for medical negligence then please contact Nancy Fairbairn on 0113
284 5000 or e-mail