Medical Negligence FAQ’s
We can advise if you have received improper, unskilled or negligent treatment by a health care professional, GP or dentist.
Can I make a medical negligence claim on behalf of my child?
Yes. Only, if you are the mother, father or parental guardian.
Can I make a medical negligence claim on behalf of someone who has died?
Yes. Only, if you are the spouse of the Deceased or Executor of the Estate.
Can I sue if an operation went wrong?
You can sue if your medical treatment was negligent. This is different to suing if your operation went wrong.
Firstly, it is necessary for you to establish that there has been a breach of duty of care in the provision of medical treatment. The legal criteria in relation to breach of duty of care was established some years ago in the Bolam case. However, it is a requirement that not only the issue to establishing breach of duty of care, but that you must also establish causation.
What causation basically means is that it has to be proved by you that the breach of duty of care has resulted in damage (injury) but would not have occurred had it not been for the breach of duty of care.
The evidential standard in relation to causation is on the balance of probabilities – certainty or even near certainty is not required
Can my doctor/hospital stop treating me if I bring a claim against them?
It is entirely at the discretion of you and your treating clinician. Should you or your treating clinician consider that your doctor-patient relationship has broken down that treating clinician may consider that they can no longer treat you in a professional manner. However, if you have a complaint against your treating clinician it may not be wise to continue treatment from them in any event.
How can I find out if medical treatment was negligent?
During the investigations of your clinical negligence claim we will be required to obtain disclosure of all relevant medical records – both hospital and GP – in the manner set out in the pre-action protocols. Once all of the relevant medical records have been received they will be considered on a preliminary basis. They will then be sent to an independent expert nurse who will index and paginate the records to ensure that they are in some semblance of order.
Once all the relevant medical records have been obtained indexed and paginated, they will be reviewed in detail, following which a detailed chronology of events will then be prepared setting out, where appropriate, relevant entries in the medical records. You will be asked to comment on the chronology/medical records.
A detailed letter of instruction will thereafter be prepared and sent to an appropriate medical expert to provide an opinion on liability/causation, i.e. to assess the standard of care you received at the material time and its consequences, whether temporary or enduring.
It may be necessary to instruct more than one expert in your case if opinions are required from more than one area of medical expertise. If this is the case we will let you know in due course and we will inform you which experts are to be instructed.
Once medical reports on liability/causation are available, we will consider them in detail and thereafter review them with you. We will then be in a better position to advise you as to the prospects of success of your claim.
How long does it take to complete my claim?
The estimated time scale involved in this matter will be eighteen to twenty-four months to conclude preliminary investigations. This can vary for many reasons but we will endeavour to keep you advised of any change in the likely time scale as the matter develops.
Where can pressure sores develop?
Areas of the body that are particularly vulnerable to developing a pressure sore are the heels, the sacrum (just above your bottom), ankle, elbows and shoulder blades.
Getting a pressure sore is just one of those things though isn’t it?
No. Most pressure sores can and should be prevented. If appropriate risk assessments and preventative measures are put in place by nursing staff when someone is at high risk of developing a pressure sore they should not develop.
If I am at high risk of developing a pressure sore what should nursing staff be doing to prevent it?
There are a number of measures that can and should be put in place depending on the level of risk. There are special types of pressure relieving mattresses and cushions that can be given to patients, as well as heel protectors and special boots. Patients should be helped to turn and take pressure off vulnerable areas of their body. Nursing staff should also inspect a patients skin regularly so that they can act quickly at the first signs that a pressure sore may be developing.
Is there a time limit on bringing a claim?
A key date in this action is the limitation date which is three years from the date of the negligent treatment or your date of knowledge of negligence (i.e. when you became aware). Proceedings must be issued by this date if your claim is to be pursued, failing which it will be barred by Statute.
We are obliged to provide you with the best costs advice as per the Solicitors Code of Conduct. This means that we must assess your eligibility for the different forms of funding and the best form of funding must be offered to your first.
What are the options for funding my case?
There are different types of funding that can be offered and are as follows:
• Legal Aid Public Funding – From April 2013, public funding will only be available to individuals who fulfil very specific criteria set down by the Legal Services Commission (the government body who deal with legal aid). You will only get Legal Aid if your case relates to the representation of a child in exceptional circumstances. If you are supported by a Legal Aid Certificate, our fees are paid at a level of remuneration set by the Government. We will be paid by the Legal Services Commission by reference to the amount of time spent on the matter. There are a number of factors which can affect whether your costs will be paid by the Legal Services Commission or not and the person in charge of your case will fully advise you in this respect. At this stage you should be aware that if you lose your case it is possible that you may still be ordered by the Court to contribute towards your opponents costs, even though your own costs are covered by Legal Aid. Furthermore, there is a possibility that even if you win your case, your opponent may not be ordered to pay the full amount of your costs and may not be capable of paying what they have been ordered to pay.
• Before the Event Legal Expenses Insurance – this insurance can usually be found on your buildings and contents insurance and premium bank accounts.
• No Win No Fee Agreement – Under such agreement, if you are unsuccessful in your claim we shall waive our fees relating to work done during the currency of the agreement. If however your claim is successful we shall charge a success fee based upon a percentage of our basic fees (this cannot be more than 100% of the basic charges in total) but it is limited to 25% of the total amount of any:
(i) General damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity; and
(ii) Damages for pecuniary loss, other than future pecuniary loss
The success fee is payable by you.
• Private Fee – It is always open to you to instruct us to act for you on a private fee-paying basis. This will mean that you will be responsible for our fees as and when they are incurred regardless of the outcome of your case. Legal costs are very often one of the most significant issues in claims of this type. Because of the need to pay disbursements (that is sums paid to others in the preparation of your case such as medical experts and barristers) when they arise, legal fees do mount up very quickly.
Your funding eligibility will be assessed at your initial appointment.
Will you visit me at home?
Yes we can arrange to carry out appointments by visiting you in your home.