This is one of the most frequently asked questions about medical negligence, but its answer is not so straightforward. Medical negligence – a combination of the worlds of law and medicine – is a complex subject. It is a term that describes failure on the part of a medical professional to carry out their duty of care in a reasonable and acceptable manner. Medical Negligence Claims can take a long time to conclude, usually up to a few years, due to the legal and medical processes involved in making a claim.
It is important to note that every medical negligence claim is unique, so the more complex a case is, the more time-consuming the process will be. For instance, a brain injury negligence claim will likely take longer than a dental negligence claim, as determining future prognosis for brain injury may be difficult, while a dental issue may heal over several months. Third parties like medical experts also play a big role in the length of time it takes for a medical negligence case to come to an end.
First Things First
For your clinical negligence claim to be concluded as swiftly as possible, you need the support of medical negligence solicitors. If, for instance, the claim is against an NHS organization and you are making NHS medical negligence claims, your solicitor may advice you to make a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure. In any case, they will help you go through all the stages of the medical negligence claims process to ensure your claim is properly dealt with.
Although every claim is unique, the stages involved are generally the same:
Background of your case
It must first be established that a healthcare professional or medical institution is responsible for the pain or injury you have suffered. It is important that you have an exhaustive discussion with your medical negligence solicitor; they will let you know whether (or not) you have a valid claim. Medical Negligence Solicitors, through the support of a medical expert, will also examine the severity of your pain/injury during this consultation.
If you wish to make an injury claim, your solicitor will discuss the available funding options. At Medical Negligence Direct, most of our claims are managed on a medical negligence no win no fee UK basis. Through this arrangement, there will be no financial risk and legal costs to you, regardless of the outcome of the claim.
With your case in the hands of a personal injury solicitor, the following must be in place:
-> Medical records: Your solicitor will write to the medical professional or medical body requesting all your medical records.
-> Medical expert statement: The solicitor pursuing your claim will contact a medical expert and supply them with your medical records and testimony. Armed with this evidence, the medical expert will write a report, detailing whether or not you received negligent treatment and to what extent it occurred. It is important that the medical expert is up-to-date with medical events surrounding your case, because their opinion may be sought after by others.
Upon completion of the his/her report, the medical expert will discuss their findings with you. Once the medical expert produces a report showing that your doctor breached his/her duty of care, you will need to get another report showing that the breach of duty caused you harm. Both reports will help establish what is known as ‘breach of duty’ and ‘causation’.
Your medical negligence solicitor will send a Letter of Claim on your behalf to the defendant; this letter will provide a detailed explanation of your claim against them. Their response to the letter will show whether or not they accept liability – and the defendant will have four months to reply.
If the defendant does not accept liability in your case, then your case may be taken to court, depending on available evidence. This can be a time-consuming process, as it would require the statements of several expert witnesses, with varying and demanding schedules.
If the alleged liable party wishes to negotiate, a compensation can be discussed. Once an agreement is reached, you will receive the final compensation amount a short time later. If your solicitor is unable to reach an agreement with the defendant, the process will continue with the issuance of court proceedings.
Issue Court Proceedings
If an agreement cannot be reached, your solicitor will issue court proceedings on your behalf. In this case, your solicitor will file a claim with the court accompanied by a document known as the Particulars of Claim.
Case Management Conference
At this stage, solicitors in charge of your case and that of the defendant will meet to discuss a timetable for your claim. A trial date will be fixed after this meeting, which will usually be two to three years from this time. However, vast majority of cases are settled before the trial date.
As you now know, the medical negligence claims process involves a number of steps. Proper investigation must be done on your case so evidence can be put together in support of your claim. If the severity of your condition and your chances of recovery are unclear, further examination may be required to determine the full extent of the damages. If a claim is hurriedly concluded, and the claimant requires unforeseen medical care, revisiting the already settled claim is not allowed.
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Medical Negligence Claim Time Limits
Generally, all claimants have a three-year time limit to start their claim. This is why you should begin the claims process as soon as possible.
However, exceptions apply in some cases. Children, for instance, have until their 18th birthday to make a claim themselves, and the time limit will run out on their 21st birthday. For someone who lacks mental capacity, a parent or relative can bring the claim on their behalf, if they are unable to make independent decisions. If you are unaware that the injury you suffered was due to negligent medical care, you will have three years from the date you became aware of what caused you harm.
What Do You Need to Do?
Have you suffered an illness or injury as a result of medical negligence? Could the doctors have offered a safer alternative medical treatment? When it comes to medical negligence claims, having the best legal support behind you is vital. This is why Medical Negligence Direct only works with the best medical negligence solicitors Liverpool, enhancing your chance of securing the compensation you deserve.
In many cases, the severity of the injury you suffered and where it happened can play a role in the length of time it takes for the claim to settle, so it is important that you seek the best legal help as soon as possible.
Our panel of friendly solicitors will be happy to discuss details of your case on a free, no obligation initial consultation. Call today on 0800 644 4240 or fill our claim assessment form right away and we’ll get back to you.