Helpline 0844 332 0932
Our civil litigation lawyers are specialists in medical negligence law and are members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of clinical negligence experts. Compensation claims are dealt with using either legal aid or the no win no fee scheme. If you would like to talk to specialist medical negligence solicitors about your potential claim just call the helpline. We offer free advice on medical negligence law without any obligation whatsoever. If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further you will not be charged for our advice.
In general terms negligence is a failure to use reasonable skill and care however current medical negligence law has substantially complicated that basic definition. Whether or not a medical practitioner has been negligent is not judged in absolute terms but is considered in relationship to the conduct of other doctors faced with a similar situation. The basic rule is that if a doctor carries out treatment that is supported by a substantial body of the medical profession there will be no finding of medical negligence if that treatment fails even if it is considered that another type of treatment may have been successful provided that the question of choice of treatment was approached in a logical fashion.
The purpose of a damages award obtained by medical negligence solicitors is to put the injured party back in to the position they would have been in had the error not occurred. This is a difficult proposition to satisfy as money cannot ever properly compensate for physical injury however there is no other acceptable solution available and the courts approach it as best they can. Medical negligence law determines that the amount of compensation that is awarded depends on the extent of the injury, the recovery period and whether or not there are any long term consequences. The amount of an award is determined after consideration of previously decided cases coupled with government guidelines published by the Judicial Studies Board tempered by the Judges legal experience.
In order for a firm of medical negligence solicitors to succeed in legal action for compensation for personal injury it must initially be established that the proposed defendant (usually a doctor, dentist or a Healthcare Authority) owes the claimant (the injured patient) a duty of care. Medical negligence law defines a ‘duty of care’ as a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring a reasonable standard of care in their dealings. It normally comprises implicit obligations and responsibilities that the usual doctor/patient relationship satisfies.
Public funding is still available for a medical negligence solicitor to take legal action in a court of law for damages for personal injury from the Legal Services Commission. Legal aid is means tested and is usually only available to those who are on certain state benefits or who have low disposable income. Legal aid is however almost always available for children and minors (those under the age of 18 years) provided that they have no income or assets. In regards to children the financial assessment for eligibility for legal aid is based on the income and assets of the child and not the parents. The fact that parents may have high income and substantial assets does not prevent a child from obtaining legal aid on their own behalf.
Most civil action based on medical negligence law is now funded using a no win no fee* arrangement which is formally called a Condition Fee Agreement (CFA). There are many different types of CFA and not all have the same financial effect. Almost all solicitors dealing with clinical negligence cases expect their clients to fund basic expenditure including the cost of medical reports and court fees. We operate the no win no fee scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. Our medical negligence solicitors will explain the CFA personally in detail and will confirm the effect of entering into a CFA in writing before the arrangement is concluded.
There are time limits known as the limitation period determined by the Limitation Act 1980. The general rule is that a personal injury claim must have been settled or proceeding must have been issued in a court of law within three years of the event or within three years of the error being identified failing which the opportunity to claim compensation may have been lost forever. There are exceptions to this rule including for children where time does not start to run until the eighteenth birthday and for the mentally impaired where time may never start to run. In addition the court has a wide discretion to extend or alter time limits but this power is rarely exercised.
Helpline 0844 332 0932