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How long will it take to conclude a medical negligence claim?

Each case is different. It depends on many factors including the complexity of the case, the disease processes under consideration, the availability of records, the extent of necessary expert evidence, the attitude of the defendant, and court timetables.

What funding options are available to pay for medical negligence claims?

The options are limited. Some trade unions will provide financial support to their members, legal expenses cover under existing insurance policies may be available, legal aid is an option for those who satisfy certain criteria, if a case is strong a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement with or without supportive insurance would be a possibility and finally a claimant may use their own money as they would to purchase other goods or services.

Who decides whether medical treatment was negligent?

Ultimately, it would be a judge relying on expert evidence from medical professionals if the case was one of the small percentage of medical negligence claims that go to trial. The test for clinical negligence was laid down by the court over 50 years ago. Fundamentally, it is the opinion of other healthcare professionals within the relevant speciality, not the opinion of the patient, their family or friends, that determines whether a claimant’s treatment can be described as negligent or not.

Is there a no fault compensation scheme for medical negligence in this country?

No. For compensation to be paid the claimant has to prove each aspect of their case. The claimant has the burden of proving their treatment was negligent, the negligent treatment caused harm, the extent of that harm and ultimately, the financial value of that harm.

Is there a time limit for bringing a medical negligence claim?

Yes. The basic principle for a claim brought in England and Wales is that court proceedings must be commenced within three years of either the date of an allegedly negligent treatment or the claimant’s (the patient’s) date of knowledge. To have knowledge the claimant must be aware they have suffered a significant injury, know who was responsible for it and that it was caused in whole or part by negligence. In cases involving death, the general rule is that the three years runs from the date of death. In cases involving children, the three years does not start to run until they reach the age of 18. For people with brain injury or certain mental illness who are judged incompetent, the three-year rule is disapplied.

Asbestos – how will the costs of pursuing my case be paid for?

We will discuss all possible ways of funding the case with you. The initial consultation is free. During the meeting we can advise you on whether your claim is worth pursuing and the best way to fund the claim. If you are a member of a trade union we can put you in touch with your union who may be able to provide funding for your claim. In the event that you are not a trade union member we can help you to establish whether you have any insurance policies which will cover your legal costs. Where you do not have the benefit of trade union membership or appropriate insurance cover, we can pursue your claim under a ‘No Win – No Fee’ agreement. Whatever you decide, please remember that it costs nothing to take initial advice.

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