Everything You Need to Know About the Medical Negligence Claim Process
If you suffer an injury or develop an illness as a result of medical negligence, you may be able to start the medical negligence claim process.
But what is the process of a medical negligence claim? Here at AWH we thought that it would be a good idea to lay out the typical medical negligence claim process so that you can get an understanding of how your claim could proceed, how long it could take and what to expect from your solicitor.
There are certain requirements your case must meet before you can proceed with a claim, and our expert clinical negligence solicitors can help you determine if you are eligible.
The Medical Negligence Claim Process
The medical negligence claim process has many parts to it, but we’ve decided to split it into five chunks so you can understand it all a little better:
1. First Contact with Our Team
It starts with you contacting us to see whether you could start a claim. You can contact us via email or on the phone – whatever you find most comfortable.
We then follow up to the initial contact with a telephone call to find out as much initial detail as possible about your situation and decide whether it’s something we could help with. If we can’t make a decision immediately it may be that we need some additional information. We either conduct the research ourselves, or ask an expert some informal questions.
If it’s a matter we could help with, we’ll accept the case and send out the sign-up documents to you, including the ‘no-win, no-fee agreement’, details of insurance and forms of authority which are needed to access your medical documents.
The first step in investigating any case is to request the medical records. If you’ve attended more than one hospital, we will write to each one to make sure we have all your medical notes. We often require your GP notes too, to paint a background picture of your heath. GPs and hospitals, whether they’re NHS or private each have 30 days to disclose your medical records to us.
Once we’ve received all of your records, we prepare what is called a “chronology”, which is essentially the story of events leading up to and following the incident/s of negligence you’ve suffered. We then send a copy to you to confirm that the chronology aligns with your memory of events.
2. One of Two Directions
Your medical negligence claim process will take one of two routes now. We will either proceed straight to producing a “Letter of Claim” without medical evidence, or obtain medical evidence first.
The only instance where we can produce the Letter of Claim without having medical evidence is if the events that have happened are very obviously negligent. If a surgeon has left an object or tool inside you during surgery, for example. Or, if the hospital or practice has investigated the incident/s themselves and concluded there has been errors, which is called a “Root Case Analysis”.
Most commonly, we need an independent expert to review your medical records and give an opinion as to whether there has been a breach of duty. If they consider there to have been a breach of duty they will also give their opinion as to whether this has made you worse off, which is known as “causation”. This process can take between two and four months, depending on the length of the waiting list.
We may need two separate experts to comment on breach of duty and causation, depending on the circumstances. If this is the case, we will have to wait for the first report before requesting the second, which can lengthen the process by another two to four months, meaning this step of the medical negligence claim process could take up to eight months in total.
3. Preparing the Letter of Claim
After we have received the expert opinions, we can begin to draft our Letter of Claim. In this we’ll set out our argument, including all of our allegations regarding breach of duty and causation. We will also list any injuries you have sustained, including illnesses too. At this stage we will not disclose our reports.
The hospital or practice you are claiming against are known as the “defendant”, and they have fourteen days to acknowledge the letter. They then have another four months to investigate and return to us with a decision on what is called “liability”, which essentially means they will decide if they’re taking the blame for what has happened.
At this stage in the medical claim process we will ask you for details of any financial losses you have suffered as a result of the negligence, including travel expenses, loss of earnings and prescription costs. We then prepare a “Schedule of Loss”, which details all of your financial losses and will be used to seek to recover this money from the defendant.
4. Obtaining a Second Medical Report
Our next step is to obtain another medical report, this time addressing your injuries and asking the expert for a prognosis on how they envisage the future for you in respect of your injuries. The report will also detail what future care you will need, if any aids or equipment is needed and whether you will need further medical treatment in the future.
You’ll have to attend a medical examination before the report is put together. The wait time for an appointment can be around twelve weeks, and the report will take another eight to twelve weeks to prepare. The name of the report is the “Condition and Prognosis” report.
Once we receive the report, we will be able to estimate how much compensation you could receive for your claim, basing the amount of guidelines provided by the court and outcomes of previous cases. We will use the figure we calculate to make an offer to the Defendant.
We also take formal witness statements from you, any family members who can give evidence that you suffered from medical negligence. They might have assisted you with care during recovery, for example. We use these statements as part of our evidence.
5. Accepting or Denying Liability
The Defendant/s will either accept or deny liability for your suffering in their response letter. If they accept liability, we should be able to negotiate a settlement for you.
However if they deny liability, they have to send us a formal letter of response explaining why they have done so. We will send the letter on to our expert to make sure that they are still supportive of the claim.
If the Defendant/s don’t accept any of our offers, we could issue court proceedings against them. However, before doing so we would instruct a barrister to review all evidence we have gathered and to give an opinion on whether they consider the case strong enough to go to court.
Often they will want to arrange a conference with all of the experts on the case to discuss the evidence and the Defendant’s response. If the barrister is supportive, they’ll draft the necessary paperwork so we can formally issue your case at court.
Following this, the timetable of steps is set by the court. They will tell us what we need to do and when. We will do our best to settle your case at every step of proceedings, but will continue to progress if we aren’t able to do so.
You should know that it is very uncommon for the medical negligence claim process to run all the way to a final trial.
If you think you might have a medical negligence claim and want to know more about the process, we could help you learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Medical Negligence Claim Process
- How Long Do I Have to Make a Medical Negligence Claim?
From the date of the negligent incident, you have three years to make a medical negligence claim. However, if you didn't become aware of the negligence until after it had happened, the three years doesn't start until you become aware. This is known as you "date of knowledge".
- How Long Does a Medical Negligence Claim Take to be Settled?
How long it takes for a medical negligence claim to be settled very much depends on the specifics of your case. Your claim could take approximately a year and a half to two years if it doesn't have to go to court. If it does have to go to court, your claim could take between two and three years to settle.
- How Much Compensation Can I Get for Medical Negligence?
How much compensation you could get for medical negligence depends on a range of factors, including how severe your injuries are, to what level the Defendant's can be held accountable and how your injuries will continue to affect your life.
Compensation can range from a few thousand pounds to multi-millions, but as we mentioned above you won't be told an estimated amount until after the Condition and Prognosis report.
How We Can Help You With Your Medical Negligence Claim
Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors have a thorough understanding of the medical negligence claim process and could help you pursue a claim. Whether you’ve suffered from delayed dental treatment, a cancer misdiagnosis or cosmetic surgery gone wrong, we’d be happy to have a chat and see how we can help you.
We understand that suffering from medical negligence can affect you emotionally as well as physically, and so will handle your case with the sensitivity and care you deserve.
Have you suffered financial losses, emotional stress and physical injury due to a medical professional’s negligence? We could help you.
Starting the process couldn’t be more simple!
- Contact us Get in touch however suits you best and arrange a consulation with one of our solicitors
- Meet an expert You’ll meet the expert solicitor assigned to your case and discuss all the necessary details
- Authorise Once we’ve got all the details of your case and you’re happy to proceed, just give us the go-ahead
- We get to work It’s time for us to get to work! We’ll set up your file on our system and get to work right away
Get in touch
Let us know how AWH Solicitors can help you by providing us with your details in the form below.
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