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Frequently Asked Questions
Poor healthcare involving children can be particularly distressing for parents. If the child has sustained injuries then parents may be worried about their health and how they will be in the future.
If there was negligence on the part of the healthcare body responsible for the child’s care then it is important that parents speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as possible.
The child may be entitled to compensation to help them to cope with their injuries but as claims involving children can sometimes be quite complex they should only be handled by solicitors with extensive experience, such as those at Hospital Negligence.
A child can bring a claim in their own right but a ‘litigation friend’, a responsible adult, will be appointed to deal with things on their behalf. Some cases involving children are eligible for Legal Aid to fund the claim and your solicitor will be able to discuss this with you. If they are not eligible then many cases can be run on a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement.
If compensation is awarded this will be subject to an ‘approval hearing’ where a judge is asked to decide whether the sum of money that has been agreed is reasonable in order to meet the child’s needs. The funds will be managed by the Court Funds Office until the child is old enough to manage their own affairs. This is to ensure that the way the money is used is in the child’s best interests. If the child will not be able to manage their own affairs in the future because of their injury then the Court of Protection will manage the funds for their lifetime.
It is often wise to have representation when dealing with the Court of Protection and some specialist solicitors offer this service. If this is something you are interested in the team at Hospital Negligence can help.
Once you have discussed your claim with a solicitor, and have agreed to make your claim with Hospital Negligence, we will look after your case.
It can be a complex and confusing time, and you're bound to have many questions. However, our commitment to our clients is to make claiming compensation as easy as possible. We aim to keep you informed throughout the claim and, as much as possible, take control of the process to ensure you can recover from your injuries without undue inconvenience.
The first steps
To start with we will obtain and review your medical records to gain an expert understanding of what has happened. We will also review any complaints you have made and documentation you have provided to support your case. This starts to build a detailed picture and helps to form an argument for medical negligence.
You will provide a detailed witness statement for your solicitor which will include any evidence from friends and family who can help support your case.
Once we have a clear picture we can put together a coherent case and, using our expert knowledge and experience, start to investigate the circumstances that led to negligence. In some cases, this may require meeting with our own medical experts who can professionally review and provide opinion on your condition or injuries.
We take care of contacting the organisation or individuals in question to make them aware of your claim.
Will I go to court?
Medical negligence cases rarely go to court and most are settled on the basis of expert medical evidence out of court. However, occasionally, if negligence is refuted, the case will go before a court so a judge can decide whether they believe the medical staff acted negligently and the patient was injured as a result. If this happens, your solicitor and the barrister they instruct will lead court proceedings on your behalf. If the judge rules in your favour, we will negotiate a compensation settlement that is a true reflection of your suffering.
If an out-of-court settlement is proposed, your solicitor can advise you whether to accept. It may be the case that your solicitor does not think the settlement is appropriate or does not reflect the extent to which you were harmed, or that they believe you should continue to fight the case to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Of course, this decision is entirely down to you.
The process of negotiation can often be lengthy as the defendant may come back with a new offer, and this can go back and forth several times. Your solicitor will deal with this and will keep you updated at every development.
It’s a good idea to make an official complaint as soon as possible but generally speaking most NHS bodies will allow up to 12 months.
The first step is to set out what happened and your concerns in a letter to the head of the healthcare body responsible. This may be the chief executive of a hospital trust, the practice manager at a GP surgery, or the complaints team of your local clinical commissioning group.
Your letter should be clear and concise and set out simply all the issues you have faced. Ask for it to be investigated under the NHS Complaints Procedure.
You should expect your letter to be acknowledged within three working days. Individual NHS organisations will have different timescales for providing a full complaint response and this should be outlined in the acknowledgement.
The response should explain what the investigation involved, what the findings were and what action has been taken to ensure that the same situation is not repeated. If appropriate and apology will be offered.
If there are grounds to take matters further and make a claim for compensation the complaint response is useful documentation that may back up your case.
If after making an official complaint you feel that the NHS body has not addressed your concerns adequately then you can take your case to the Health Service Ombudsman. If the ombudsman takes up your case they will investigate it thoroughly and provide a full report of their findings.
Your solicitor will contact you in the method most appropriate for you and this could be by phone, email, post or a combination of all three.
You will be contacted whenever there is a development in your case and if we need to instruct other professionals such as barristers and medical experts.
Our friendly team is also happy to make home visits whenever needed.
The amount of compensation you can expect to receive depends on the injuries and losses you have suffered due to negligence. These will be carefully calculated by your solicitor and a figure for the total value of your claim agreed.
You may not achieve this figure as there will be on-going negotiations and offers made on both sides. However the specialist solicitors at Hospital Negligence will always fight to secure you the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.
You are entitled to receive ‘general damages’ for your pain and suffering and loss of amenity, such as not being able to participate in your usual activities and pastimes.
You are also entitled to claim for ‘special damages’ and ‘future losses’. This would cover loss of earnings, the cost of nursing care, treatment, specialist housing and equipment and home adaptations.
If you are the relative of someone who has died due to medical negligence you are also entitled to claim compensation if you were financially dependent on them and to cover the cost of funeral expenses. You can also claim bereavement damages if you are their spouse or child under 18.
Rest assured that if your claim is unsuccessful, it will leave no mark on your reputation and it needn't affect your career or future prospects.
In addition, there will be no financial consequences and you will not be liable for any of your opponent's legal costs if we have taken your case on a conditional fee agreement ('no win, no fee'), as long as you took out insurance with our recommended provider. If your case concerned a brain injury that occurred during pregnancy, birth or in the first few weeks of life and legal aid was granted, you will also not be liable for any legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful, unless you were required to make a financial contribution to your legal aid.
Hospital Negligence has vast experience in claiming successfully on behalf of its clients, and we take pride in our reputation as leading solicitors in the field of medical negligence.
No win, no fee
There is no financial risk to you if you are offered a 'no win, no fee' agreement from Hospital Negligence, provided you also take out insurance from our recommended provider. The only outcome in which you will be liable to pay any legal costs is if you win your case and you have been awarded compensation
Should you win your case most of the costs will be paid by your opponent. At Hospital Negligence we guarantee that any amount outstanding will then be capped and you will be fully informed from the outset of our fees and any elements that you will need to pay for ONLY in the event that your case is successful. You will not be liable for ANY of our fees, or those of the other side, if your case is unsuccessful and if we have taken your case on a 'no win, no fee' agreement, and you took out insurance with our recommended provider.
As mentioned, you will not incur any financial costs if you lose your case provided you are offered a 'no win, no fee' arrangement and take out the insurance package recommended. This means you will not be liable for our legal fees, nor those of your opponent. Also, you will not be required to pay the insurance premium if you lose. Nor will we ask you to pay for any records, reports or other expert evidence as part of your case.
As specialist solicitors we would obtain and review your medical records to get an understanding of what exactly went wrong with your care.
We would also review the complaint response and any other documentation that may exist.
Your solicitor would also take a detailed witness statement from the injured person, if they are able to provide one, as well as family members or loved ones who may have vital evidence to provide.
Once it is clear what the allegations will be the case is put together and the relevant official documents prepared.
If you are bringing a claim for medical negligence then it is likely that your legal team will need to review your medical records. You are entitled to copies of your records under the Data Protection Act.
A request form needs to be completed. You can also do this on behalf of a relative who has died, a child, or someone who does not have the capacity to make the request themselves.
If medical notes made in hospital are required then the form is supplied by the Medical Records Department of the hospital. For records from your GP or other healthcare provider then a request should be made to the practice manager.
You will be required to pay a fee for your records, which should be no more than £50. Once the fee has been paid you should receive your records within 40 days.
If you have suffered negligent medical treatment and you have been injured as a result you may be entitled to compensation.
The first step is to contact a firm of specialist solicitors for free initial advice. The team at Hospital Negligence are specialist in this area and can assess your case and tell you if there are grounds for a claim for compensation.
If we can help you then we will arrange the most appropriate funding option for your claim and begin investigating the circumstances of your case. If the claim is successful then an appropriate compensation settlement will be negotiated on your behalf and once all parties, including you, have agreed an appropriate sum of money it will be paid to you.
There are several different ways to fund a medical negligence case and your solicitor will discuss the options so you can decide which is the most appropriate for your circumstances.
Certain claims involving children are eligible for Legal Aid and your solicitor will be able to tell you if this applies to your case.
Many cases can be funded via a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement and this is something the team at Hospital Negligence can provide.
You may also have legal expenses cover under an existing insurance policy such as your home insurance. In addition some trade unions provide legal expenses cover for members.
If you wish to privately fund your claim you are entitled to do so.
In cases of medical negligence it is important to instruct a specialist solicitor with the necessary skills and experience to navigate this complex area of law.
You should look for a solicitor who only deals with cases of medical negligence and has won many cases. Your chance of success is much higher with a solicitor who is dedicated to the field of medical negligence as they will understand all the issues that need to be addressed.
They should have a sensitive approach to your case and understand this is likely to be a very distressing point in your life.
Your solicitor should also be accredited by the relevant professional bodies such as being a member of the Law Society specialist Clinical Negligence Panel of Solicitors or the charity Action against Medical Accidents, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.
Poor medical care can have a significant impact on patients and their families. The impact can range from feeling upset that your needs and concerns have not been respected to serious but preventable injury.
Each person’s case will be different but to establish what the best course of action is required it’s important to get advice from an expert. Medical law experts, like those at Hospital Negligence, can assess a patient’s case and provide advice about what to do next.
For most people an important first step is to make an official complaint to the healthcare body responsible for their care. This can bring the issue to their attention and the response may reveal valuable information and provide an explanation. It may also outline how they intend to prevent the same thing from happening to anyone else.
The complaints process can also provide useful documentation if there is cause to take things further. A claim for compensation can be made if a healthcare worker has breached their duty of care to you and harm was caused as a result. In these circumstances one of our specialist solicitors would investigate the case and begin legal action against the healthcare organisation responsible.
Yes. Court proceedings on claims involving medical negligence must be started within three years of the date of the negligence or when the patient became aware they had suffered an injury due to negligence, unless at that point the patient was under 18 years old, in which case the three year period runs from the child’s 18th birthday.
However if the person has a disability that means they do not have mental capacity then there are no time limits concerning the start of a claim.
For claims with time limits is important that specialist legal advice is sought as soon as possible to ensure there is enough time to investigate and get everything in order.
When a patient had tragically died then the three year time limit begins from the date of the death.
Errors made by medical professionals in the course of their work result in hundreds of thousands of medical negligence cases every year. Even though the large majority of these accidents are down to a lack of care by an individual medical practitioner, the responsibility is rarely solely upon that individual.
Many victims will recognise when a medical professional has acted negligently, they are, for the most part, hard-working practitioners who generally do excellent and much needed work. This will often make clients reluctant to pursue a legal claim.
NHS medical negligence
Patients who suffered negligence within a hospital during the course of treatment under the NHS will usually make a claim against the NHS trust rather than against individual doctors, nurses or other medical practitioners.
In other words, when poor hospital care has been received legal action is rarely taken against a medical professional directly. Instead the case is taken against the relevant health authority.
Often victims are pleased the action is against the NHS trust rather than the individual. This can be particularly true if the negligence was caused by a junior doctor who had not been given the support he or she needs.
The situation is different in private practice hospitals where victims of medical negligence often make a claim against an individual doctor, surgeon, clinician or nurse.
Dentists, chiropractors, midwives and plastic surgeons can all be held accountable if they have caused an injury or death because of a lack of skill or negligent behaviour.
Sometimes, victims can pursue a claim against a private hospital or clinic, but in most instances a private doctor is not an employee of the hospital and is therefore held individually accountable.
Claims against GPs
In most cases involving a general practitioner the appropriate defendant will be the GP themselves. The GP should be insured, so a claim will not cause any direct financial harm, although it can obviously harm their reputation if they are found to have caused avoidable harm to a patient.
Who pays the compensation settlement?
Every medical practitioner in England and Wales is independently insured against medical negligence by either the Medical Protection Society or Medical Defence Union, and hospitals themselves would settle against their public liability insurance if they were found liable in a hospital negligence case.
It is rare that such cases go to court due to the strength of the case developed by your solicitor and many claims for medical negligence compensation are settled ‘out of court’.
If you have any questions regarding hospital negligence or are interested in pursuing legal action, it is always in your best interest to discuss your situation with an experienced solicitor. Contact us today via our online contact form and one of our medical law experts will be in touch.
If you would like to know more about how the team at Hospital Negligence can help with your case, simply call us on 0800 014 7481 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch.