Although each case is investigated and looked into based on the individual experiences that you or your loved one has been through, in order to be successful in bringing a medical negligence claim, all claims have to fit within the structures of the law.
Breach of Duty
You will hear your lawyer talk about liability and whether there has been a ‘breach of duty’. In investigating your claim, we will need to prove, backed up with medical evidence, that the clinicians involved in your care breached their duty of care which they owe to all of their patients. Crucially though, it is not enough to simply say that we are not happy with their care generally; we have to be able to prove that the level of care which they provided, or the clinical decisions that they made, failed to meet the standard of a reasonable body of other practitioners in that area of medicine.
Furthermore, if we have established that there has potentially been a breach of duty in your care, to proceed further in our investigations, we have to then go on to show that there is what is referred to in legal terms as ‘causation’. By this, we mean to say that as a direct result of that breach of duty that we have proved with evidence has occurred, you have gone on to suffer harm or damage. Importantly, we have to show that if that breach of duty had not have happened, you would not have gone on to suffer the damage that you now have.
It is only when we have proved both of these components that we can look at sending our allegations to the Defendant and look into settlement negotiations.
Medical negligence cases are known for being complex, and it takes time to get to each stage of our investigations, from requesting and reviewing your medical records at the very beginning of your claim, through to instructing and obtaining independent expert medical evidence to look at proving breach of duty and causation, and evaluating the prospects of success in your claim at every stage. Generally, successful claims can take approximately 2-3 years, but this is all entirely dependent on the individual facts of the case – with some claims taking less time and others requiring more time.
Your lawyers will always try to keep you updated, and a member of the team will always try to and answer any questions or queries you have at every step of the way.
As reported by The Law Society Gazette, this week the Department of Health revealed plans for a new regime of fixed recoverable costs in most clinical negligence claims valued up to £25,000.
In a highly anticipated consultation, the government said that they are “committed to addressing the unsustainable rising costs of clinical negligence” by streamlining the legal process for “lower value” clinical negligence claims and introducing fixed recoverable costs.
In turn they believe that this would allow for the resolution of cases “at a lower, more proportionate” cost than under the current system and would also increase the proportion of claims resolved before involving the courts.
If introduced, claims would be allocated to either a “light track” or a “standard track” depending on their complexity and degree to which liability is agreed from the outset.
With regards to costs, these would be capped at £6,000 for standard track claims plus 20% of damages agreed. For those claims allocated to the ‘light’ track, proposed recoverable costs would be no more than £1,500 plus 10% of damages.
It should be noted that claims requiring more than two liability experts, those with genuine multiple defendants and those involving stillbirths or neonatal deaths are excluded, as are those where limitation is raised by the defendant as an issue.
While ministers insist that the proposals are intended to target legal costs rather than compensation, the reality is that the changes may mean that many specialist clinical negligence lawyers will not be able to take on those claims considered to be low value thus potentially restricting access to justice for many.
If you have concerns that you or a family member have experienced clinical negligence, we may be able to investigate a potential claim for you. You can contact Graystons Solicitors by telephone on 0151 645 0055 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or a loved one feel you have suffered as a result of negligent treatment, your Instructing Solicitors will require your written consent to request copies of your medical records in order to discern whether there is viable evidence to pursue a medical negligence claim.
Why are my records needed?
When investigating a potential claim, it is vital that we can show that there is evidence to support any allegations against the healthcare provider. A first point-of-call, therefore, would be looking at what is written in the medical records.
Health records are a contemporaneous note of the treatment you have received and whilst, of course, your own recollections are essential to the case, your medical records serve as an important starting point.
How long does it take to receive records?
Requesting and receiving records can often take a considerable amount of time, however recent changes in the law around Data Protection have meant that this process has sped up significantly.
Healthcare providers aim for disclosure of copy records within 40 days following receipt of the request.
When requesting records of a deceased person under Access to Health Records Act 1990, disclosure will usually take considerably longer.
How much will it cost?
Thanks to GDPR, making requests for copies of your medical records is now free of charge. The only exception to this, will be if specific original scans or slides are required. Any expense incurred will usually come under After-The-Event insurance cover; to discuss funding or further information in this regard, please get in contact.
Medical negligence can have a hugely disruptive effect on your life. You may not be able to work as a result of your injuries, or require care from family members, or professional carers. One important concern for victims of medical negligence is how much you can claim in compensation for your injuries.
The amount of compensation or damages that you receive will depend on many factors. No two claims are the same with many different examples of medical negligence. It is not always possible for a medical negligence compensation calculator to be completely accurate at the start of a claim. At Graystons your specialist medical negligence solicitor will thoroughly investigate the care you have received and the injuries you have suffered.
This may mean that you have to be examined by one of our carefully selected independent medical experts. With the benefit of this expertise and by giving careful consideration to medical negligence compensation guidelines, we can value your injury as well as including other financial losses you may have incurred, such as lost earnings, prescription costs and the cost of any future treatment you may require. In addition to considering compensation, at Graystons we understand that it is not always simply about the money. Most of our clients are also looking for an apology, an explanation and reassurance that the poor treatment will not be repeated.
Our specialist medical negligence solicitors can advise you about the different options available to you with the NHS complaints procedures and complaints to the professional disciplinary bodies, such as the General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). We are happy to consider these options with you whilst striving to get you the compensation needed to rebuild your life.