Medical negligence solicitors are specialised personal injury claims solicitors who focus on compensation claims for medical negligence when people have suffered an injury at the hands of a medical practitioner. These types of claims are particularly complex, with medical negligence solicitors having to prepare cases that prove a lack of care by a medical practitioner which not only caused an injury to the patient, or deterioration in the patient´s condition, but was completely avoidable at the time.
Although there may be many instances where it was obvious that a patient has suffered an injury due to medical negligence, it is sometimes questionable who was actually responsible. Medical negligence solicitors often have to assume the role of medical detective to determine who should be sued for medical negligence compensation. Medical negligence solicitors will have assistance in this from senior physicians with knowledge of the particular injury the patient has suffered.
Duties of Medical Negligence Solicitors
Medical negligence solicitors have a duty to advise their clients on their entitlement to medical negligence compensation, arrange for an independent examination from the senior physician to support the claim, and represent the victim both in court and in any compensation negotiations with the negligent medical practitioner´s insurance company or the Health and Safety Executive. In order to do this successfully, there are a number of steps to be taken by medical negligence solicitors.
The first stage of a successful claim for medical negligence compensation is the initial consultation between the patient and solicitor. Medical negligence solicitors will want to know the circumstances surrounding the patient´s injury, the consequence that it has had on their health and the reasons they believe that their injuries were due to a lack of care by the medical practitioner involved. Medical negligence solicitors will then normally “screen” the claim by asking a senior physician for a preliminary opinion before agreeing to represent the claimant.
If the senior physician feels that there is sufficient reason for a claim for medical negligence compensation, medical negligence solicitors will write a “letter of claim” to each potential defendant, outlining the case against them and requesting the disclosure of medical notes and other records that will support the claim for medical negligence. Then the claimant will be independently examined by the senior physician who will use the records that have been supplied to confirm whether or not the claimant has been the victim of medical negligence.
Once the strongest possible claim has been compiled, medical negligence solicitors will write again to the negligent party, inviting them to settle and avoid the necessity of court proceedings. This negligent party could be the Health and Safety Authority or any private medical practitioner – for example, a dentist, optician or chiropractor, each of whom has to have, by law, medical insurance to cover instances of claims for medical negligence compensation.
Depending on the strength of the claim and potential size of a compensation award, the HSA and most medical insurance companies will be prepared to negotiate an award of compensation with medical negligence solicitors. The amount of medical negligence compensation agreed will not only represent an appropriate amount for the physical and psychological trauma suffered by the claimant, but will also include damages for any additional treatment that is required, any out of pocket expenses that have been experienced and any loss of earnings – both earnings which are already lost and those which may be lost in the future due to injuries caused by the medical negligence.
Beyond representing clients in cases of medical negligence or malpractice, one of the main responsibilities of medical negligence solicitors is to act as a translator between claimants and the medical and legal professions. The terms used when determining claims for medical negligence compensation can often appear to be an alien language. Medical negligence solicitors need to have a full understanding of the proceedings in order to relay progress of the claim to their client.
Two other areas of consideration that have to be taken into account by medical negligence solicitors concern the length of time a claimant has in which to make a claim for medical negligence compensation and how claims for children are regarded by the law. Claimants have two years from the date on which they discovered they had been the victims of medical negligence in which to make a claim – this can often be much later than the date on which the medical negligence took place. Children have two years from the date at which they reach the age of majority in which to make a claim, although they can be represented by a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend” in any court action at any time before this.
Further Information about Medical Negligence Solicitors
If you or a loved one have been the victim of medical negligence, and would like to find out more about how the services offered by medical negligence solicitors can help, please contact our free advice service. Our service lets you discuss your case with a solicitor in total confidence, and without any obligation to proceed with a claim. Our solicitor will be able to offer you practical and helpful advice on your entitlement to claim medical negligence compensation and guide you through the necessary procedures.
Call 1800 989 995 – our lines are open from 8.00am to 10.00pm, seven days a week. We also offer a call-back service if now is not a suitable time to speak with us: just type in your contact details in our call-back form below and one of our team will get back in touch with you. As you can see, making a claim for medical negligence compensation is a very involved business and you are always better off seeking advice from a solicitor with experience of such matters.