Thousands of operations are carried out successfully in the UK every year. Very occasionally things can go wrong. If a mistake is made by a medical professional, perhaps during the course of an operation, or in the course of aftercare, and you suffer injury and loss, you may be entitled to make a clinical negligence claim.

In this article, Richard Blair a Solicitor in the Clinical Negligence team at  at WBW Solicitors in Paignton, outlines the stages in a clinical negligence compensation claim and explains why you need a specialist lawyer in the field to bring your case.

Choosing a solicitor

If you have suffered injury and loss as a result of clinical negligence, it is vital that you seek advice from a clinical negligence lawyer who specialises in this area of law. You should do so as soon as possible after the relevant events. The earlier you act, the more likely it is vital evidence will still be available. Critical events will remain fresh in the minds of all those involved.

Clinical negligence claims are often highly complex. So, it is important for the Claimant to instruct a legal expert who has had a lot of experience of pursuing cases of this kind and who is familiar with stages in the case as well the relevant rules, procedures and protocols. The lawyer needs to be able competently to identify the relevant issues and have a firm grasp of the law in this area. He or she needs carefully to decide what sort of experts to instruct to produce reports. One of the best ways of identifying an experienced solicitor is to check to see whether he or she is a Member of the AVMA Clinical Negligence panel or the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence panel. You might also look to see what their former clients say about them.

Investigating your claim

Your lawyer will be able quickly to gauge whether you have a valid claim with a  realistic prospect of success. If you do, he or she will gather the evidence needed to prove your case and its value. That evidence will comprise medical records, supportive  witness statements and reports from experts in relevant fields of medicine. Arrangements will made for you to be examined by one or more of experts who will assess the nature, cause and extent of your injuries and the effect they have had on your life.

If you have a valid claim, as well as negotiating terms for its settlement so that you recover the compensation you are entitled to, a clinical negligence expert will explore the need for rehabilitation, care and support in the short and the long term.

Clinical negligence cases generally take a long time to complete; usually well over a year, sometimes several years. During this time your solicitor will decide with you the best arrangement for funding the claim, obtain and arrange for your medical records to be sorted, gather the necessary medical experts’ reports, organise treatment if it is appropriate, deal with the lawyers acting for the other side and with the Court and arrange any necessary Court hearings.

Reaching the final outcome

It isn’t a foregone conclusion your case will go to Trial. The overwhelming majority never reach that point. Many are concluded long before. Many claims with merit are settled out of court. You may well receive an offer from the other side; perhaps at an early stage in the case. It takes sound judgement and the experience of your solicitor to help you decide whether or not to accept. Your solicitor will advise you whether the offer is a fair and realistic one given your circumstances and what your claim comprises. A clear medical picture of your condition and prognosis are essential before the claim and its value can be assessed. If solicitor advises that any offer made by the other side is less than the true and realistic value of your claim, he or she will advise you accordingly. It may be necessary to arrange a Trial so that a Judge can decide how much compensation should be awarded to you.

For more information on claiming compensation for clinical negligence, or any other personal injury issue, contact Richard Blair at WBW Solicitors in Paignton, phone 01803 546134 or email richardblair@wbw.co.uk

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.