When ill health strikes, we put our health in the hands of trusted professionals. Unfortunately the occasional example of a poor standard of care either through the NHS or the private sector, is also a fact of life. Such poor care often leads to far more serious and life changing complications. Our specialist department know how to support you in making a claim for sub-standard care and in seeking the best possible route to rehabilitation.
Clinical Negligence Claims Solicitors
What Is Clinical/Medical Negligence?
The terms clinical negligence and medical negligence are often used interchangeably. They describe claims made against doctors, other healthcare professionals and their employers, (for example a hospital trust). The test of negligence in this setting, is that whatever the doctor did or didn’t do fell below the standard of a reasonably competent doctor in that area. There is no fixed rule as to what is reasonable and what is not, so each case has to be considered on its own particular circumstances.
Can You Make A Medical Negligence Claim?
If you think that you have been the victim of substandard care, either from the NHS or a private hospital, you may have a claim for damages. Not only will you need to show that the health provider has been negligent, you will also need to show that the lack of care has caused you damage, i.e. it has resulted in injury, or an existing injury was made worse.
How Do You Make A Medical Negligence Claim?
Most medical negligence cases are settled outside of Court, but occasionally a Judge will need to determine your case. In order to be successful you will need to show that the care you received was substandard enough to be deemed negligent, which in itself is quite a high bar. You will then need to show what additional injury that negligent treatment caused. This is done by instructing a medical expert in the same discipline as that provided you treatment and asking them to comment on the standard of care provided.
Preparing for a Medical Negligence Claim
When you contact solicitors they will ask you whether you have made a formal complaint to the health provider you say was at fault. This is always the starting point to any claim. If you have not then your solicitors can help you do this. Once a response is received, your solicitors will obtain your full medical notes and then look to instruct an expert to comment on the standard of care. Your solicitors will have access to suitable experts and be able to advise on this.
What Are The Time Limits For Making A Medical Negligence Claim?
If you are injured in an accident, for example in a road traffic collision, then the time limits are simple; you have 3 years from the date of the accident within which to make your claim. In medical negligence matters where the date of negligence is not always obvious, or the effect of a decision takes many years to manifest itself in symptoms it is a bit harder to ascertain when the 3 years run from. For this reason the time limit relates to what is known as your ‘date of knowledge’. This is the earliest date upon which you had first knowledge which you might reasonably have been expected to acquire, necessary to bring a legal action. Your solicitors will advise you on this. Our advice would be don’t delay!
How We Can Help You With Your Clinical Negligence Claim
Clinical Negligence claims are not straightforward and require a high degree of skill. There are often complicated legal and medical issues. At Coole Bevis we will help you every step of the way, from obtaining the correct expert evidence to advising you on the claims you can make. We can also put you in touch with those who can advise you on how to invest your damages. This is particularly important if your future has been affected by your injury and the award is calculated to compensate you for future losses or significant costs.
How Long Do Medical Negligence Cases Take?
Medical Negligence cases can be very complex. Because of this they can take some time. Every case is different and the length will generally depend on two major parts. Firstly on whether those who provided the care admit fault at an early stage, and secondly on the injuries that have been caused by the poor care. Typically a case will take between 2-3 years to settle but can take longer than this.
Securing Damages And Offering Expertise Throughout Your Claim
When you make a claim for medical negligence the claim is for the recovery of damages (a financial award). This is to compensate you for the unnecessary injury you have sustained but also for any financial expenses you have been put to. These might be losses you have already incurred, but in more serious cases they maybe losses that for the future. It is very important therefore that you instruct a solicitor who is an expert in this area that is able to put forward your claim to the Defendant in the best possible way.
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Types Of Clinical And Medical Negligence Claims:
Often doctors will misdiagnose a condition. This does not automatically mean a claim will be successful, but if they miss signs that any reasonable doctor would have spotted and this has caused you additional pain and suffering then you may have a claim. It maybe that a simple scan would have assisted the diagnosis or a referral from a GP should have been made. It is incumbent on doctors to think what your condition could be and build this into their plan even if they don’t tell you. If they remain doggedly attached to their original diagnosis and things aren’t getting any better, then this might be an indication that they have misdiagnosed your complaint.
Brain injuries can be truly devastating and turn worlds upside down. Trauma to the brain can lead to loss of cognitive function as well as changes in personality which affect not only the person themselves but also their loved ones It is vital therefore that if this has been caused by medical negligence that you seek specialist advice. A number of these cases result from delays in diagnosis and treatment. Coole Bevis deals with the whole range of cases involving brain injuries caused by poor care, working towards a swift conclusion and the maximum compensation possible.
If you have suffered the life changing consequences of an amputation as a result of medical negligence you need to have confidence that your legal team will understand your specific needs, and support you throughout. Amputations typically arise from surgical error or misdiagnosis from your GP.
Accident and Emergency (A&E)
All medical practitioners are busy, but in acute care provided by Accident and Emergency this is especially the case. This, however does not mean that they owe you any lower standard of care than your GP for example. Mistakes happen, but if you can show that no reasonable doctor or nurse would have taken the action that they did then you may have a good case.
Childbirth should be one of those incredible moments full of emotion and joy for the parents. During the process we expect a certain standard of care and if these are not met it can lead to your child suffering from long term injuries. Health providers whether a midwife or a doctor should recognise potential risks of injury during antenatal appointments, provide alternative care such as a caesarean section in certain circumstances and provide adequate care after a troublesome delivery.
Injuries to nerves are less common than fractures to bones. They are potentially more serious however and typically can be damaged in surgery that has gone wrong. If you have suffered back pain, doctors should tell you about red flag symptoms (such as poor leg reflexes) as if the nerves at the bottom of your spinal cord, known as ‘cauda equina’ become compressed this can lead to significant problems. If they fail to do this, then there could be a claim to be made against them for poor advice.
In the last decade, cosmetic surgery has become more and more popular in the UK. As the number of procedures rise so do the number of claims associated with treatment especially with unregulated practitioners carrying out procedures. When cosmetic surgery goes wrong it can cause a significant amount of distress and pain to the patient. Problems can occur from fairly simple procedures such as Botox injections all the way to significant reconstructive surgery.
An Anaesthetists role in surgery is vital, and time will be spent with you before the surgery to discuss any health issues that may affect the anaesthetic given. Mistakes do happen though, from giving the wrong anaesthetic that has already been shown to cause problems in the past, or failing to ventilate properly resulting in the brain being starved of oxygen.
There aren’t many that enjoy a trip to the dentist. If things go wrong however it can be very panful. Claims can be made for any oversight that has caused you a dental injury, for example, restorative dentistry errors, misdiagnosis of oral cancer or periodontal disease and mistakes in treatment that lead to further complications.
Medical negligence sometimes leads to spinal cord damage, which in turn can cause paralysis and loss of feeling. In some cases urgent surgery is required and if there is any delay by a health practitioner in failing to pick up red flag signs, then this can cause significant additional damage. Mistakes during surgery can also damage the nerves that run through the spinal cord affecting mobility and feeling.
Delays in diagnosing cancer can have devastating effects. Almost all cancers can be detected by appropriate investigations, referrals and screening which means that most claims in this area are as a result of a failure to carry out a suitable examination or take a sufficient history. In order to success in such a claim you will need to show that the delay in diagnosing the cancer has had an additional impact, i.e. the cancer has progressed to a more advanced stage and spread to other parts of the body.
Orthopaedic Surgeons are responsible for bones. Hey therefore cover a huge range of injuries although you will find that more and more specialise in a specific part of the body. There are numerous ways in which sub-standard treatment can have serious consequences for patients. This could be failing to properly diagnose a fracture that then fails to heal properly, negligently performing surgery e.g. a knee replacement, or post-surgery infection.
If you are prescribed the incorrect drugs, given incorrect dosages or have it administered incorrectly, then you could be entitled to claim for compensation. In 2018 alone there were over 230 million medication mistakes. Incorrect medication can worsen existing conditions or lead to new medical issues. While many of these errors cause short term problems, some result in serious illness and even death.
As one can imagine there are a whole range of issues that arise from substandard care in homes. A common complaint of those that rely on care homes is falls and lack of supervision that then results in injury. There are regulations in place that cover this and we can guide you through the process.
Fatal Medical Negligence
Although rare, poor treatment in certain circumstances can lead to the death of a loved one. If a serious condition goes misdiagnosed this can have tragic consequences. At Coole Bevis we deal with these cases with utmost empathy for what the surviving family are going through whilst maintaining professional standards.
Costs Involved in a Clinical Negligence Claim
Funding Your Medical Negligence Case/No Win No Fee Medical Negligence Claims
This is an important consideration which we can help you with. Some people have the benefit of an existing insurance policy (known as Before the Event Insurance) that pays their Solicitor’s costs. It is really important that at the outset of any claim you carry out a search for any existing policies such as home insurance to see if you have the benefit of this.
If you do then we can act under this policy and typically you will receive 100% of your compensation. If you do not have such a policy, then as long as we feel that your claim has prospects of success we will likely act for you under what is known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (also known as a no win-no fee agreement). If the claim is not successful we agree not to charge you for the work we have undertaken. Furthermore since April 2013 if you lose the claim then you will not be liable to pay the Defendant’s costs. You can also take out an insurance policy that will cover you for any Defendant’s costs should the claim fail giving you further peace of mind.
However your case is funded, if successful you will recover your reasonable costs in addition to your compensation. We will of course discuss funding with you fully at the outset of any claim and what is the most appropriate method for your particular claim.
Costs Involved in a Clinical Negligence Claim
At Coole Bevis we offer a free initial interview where we will take full instructions from you, advise you on the evidence required for your claim to be successful, and how best to fund the claim. If we do not think you have sufficient prospects of success we will be upfront with you at this stage and explain the reason.
If we are able to assist you with your medical negligence claim we will advise you in the first instance to make a formal written complaint to the medical body in question. We can assist you with this. This is useful as they may make some important admissions to you at this stage.
We then obtain your full set of medical records. We do not know what potentially could be relevant so it is important we get everything for an expert to consider. Typically now following the introduction of the GDPR there is no cost in obtaining these.
Once we have fully reviewed your medical notes, we instruct a suitable expert on the issue of liability. This will be in the same discipline as that of whom we are arguing was negligent. For obvious reasons we have to instruct someone that is outside the locality of where you received the treatment. Assuming that this expert deems the treatment you have received negligent, we then go on to answer the question of what damage this has caused. Depending on the injury this maybe the same expert or I maybe from someone in another discipline. So for example if a GP failed to spot sepsis, we will first need to instruct a GP to determine whether they were negligent but then another expert dependant on how that manifested itself. Finally we will need a report from an expert that can provide a prognosis for your symptoms. Depending on the symptoms we may need to obtain more than one report here.
If successful the law prescribes that you will receive a compensation award. We will properly advise you on the value of your claim and fight your corner to make sure you get what you deserve. At the conclusion of the case we will not just send you a cheque and leave you. We can help you with making wise decisions about your future finances, which is especially important if your award includes sums for future loss of earnings and care and assistance.
Once we have obtained this evidence and calculated any reasonable financial losses you have incurred, we will enter into discussions with the Defendant on your behalf to settle your claim. This maybe by way of written offers, or informal settlement meetings, or even through an independent mediator. We will guide you through the best form of negotiation for your case.
What Happens After a Medical Negligence Claim?
Once you have settled your claim it is likely it will be settled on a full and final basis. This means you will be awarded a lump sum. Your award will compensate you for your injuries but also for any financial losses, whether these are in the past or into the future. If they are for the future it will be important that you take specific advice on the investment of the award as the amount you recover makes the assumption that you will obtain a certain rate of return. We can help you by providing this advice along with any other future financial planning you require.
Why You Should Choose Coole Bevis LLP
It is very important that if you suffer as a result of negligent medical treatment you instruct a legal team with the necessary skills and excellent client service. Here at Coole Bevis we have years of experience acting for clients who have been impacted in this way. We know how to prepare your case expertly but also do this in an empathetic way to your situation. We also seek to arrange rehabilitation for you as soon as possible by working collaboratively with the Defendant.
Our Approach to Professional Negligence Claim
Medical negligence claims are complex and best dealt with by experts in this field. Occasionally you may not receive the advice that you deserve and this can have serious implications on the result of your claim. This could be because your solicitor has missed the 3 year time limit, incorrectly advised on the value of your claim, or sought expert evidence from the wrong type of expert.