If you think you have received medical care that is below standard, you may have a right to claim. Leonie Millard of Forbes Solicitors explains
Medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients to provide reasonable medical treatment. When that care is substandard and causes the patient harm, it is medical negligence, also commonly referred to as clinical negligence.
Making a claim
There are two main elements to a claim:
1 Did the clinician act in accordance with a responsible and logical body of legal opinion?
To begin, you must establish that the standard of treatment provided has fallen below the standard expected of a reasonably competent clinician dealing with your condition. The only way to do this would be to obtain copies of your medical records and ask an expert to comment on the standard of treatment. In other words, if you were in a room with a number of clinicians practicing in the same area as that clinician you felt was negligent, and you were to ask them what they would have done in your case, if most of them say they would have done the same thing, then that would not be considered negligent. If some would, and some wouldn’t, that would still not be good enough to prove negligence. The majority would have to agree the treatment was below standard.
2 If you can establish the treatment was below standard, you then have to show that the poor treatment has caused you extra pain, suffering, loss and damage over and above that which you may have experienced had you received the appropriate treatment.
How do you investigate?
If significant harm, or the potential for significant harm has been identified by a hospital trust there ought to be a ‘duty of candour notification’ report.
We can take instructions and review the medical records to consider the merit in the case. The next stage is obtaining a written opinion from a medical expert, away from the local area, who will review your medical records and provide their opinion on both of these elements of a claim.
What type of things can you claim for?
That will depend on the nature and extent of the injury. There is potential to claim for, loss of earnings, accommodation, transport, equipment, mobility, therapies, education and care and assistance with independent living. Compensation is tailored to the needs of the individual and is designed to put the person back in the position that they would have been had the incident not occurred.
How long will it take to make a claim?
How long a case takes to conclude depends on the individual case, the opponent and what happened. We coordinate a team of medical specialists and barristers to work on your behalf, guiding you every step of the way. The opponent has two options, to accept liability and negotiate compensation, or deny fault. In a strong case we would start the Court process. The majority of cases settle before a trial and mediation is encouraged.
Do I have to wait until the end for compensation?
Calculation of a financial settlement will often rely on several experts to assess value. In a strong case we can seek an interim payment to assist with immediate needs and allow help whilst the true extent of the damage is investigated. Adequate compensation restores some normality to family life. The right compensation restores confidence and avoids the need to rely on local authority provision where resources are pressured and the future uncertain.
How will the money be paid?
Each case differs, but we are able to offer a holistic service. In relevant cases there is the option to consider a ‘structured settlement’ comprising of a lump sum to accommodate immediate needs and periodical payments for the rest of a client’s life. Periodical payments can represent better provision where it is uncertain how long the injured person will live following the injury. This provides reassurance to the Claimant and their loved ones that the money will not run out and their ongoing needs will be met. This is of particular importance where an injured child is likely to outlive his or her parents.
If receipt of compensation is likely to affect the payment of any benefits, the money can be ring fenced in a Personal Injury Trust in order to protect them.
If the client is an infant or a patient, there will be the need for the Court to approve the amount to be accepted. The money is then often invested based on advice, and the money managed by a Professional Deputy. The specialists at Forbes act in this capacity in a number of cases.
For further information and advice please contact Leonie Millard and the team on 01254 872111, or email on: email@example.com