After your first contact with my office, we will take outline details from you about what you believe has gone wrong. We will then apply for the medical records. Obtaining them can take about a couple of months.
When we receive the records, we carefully organise and review them to make sure they are complete. A meeting is then arranged to go through the records with you and to discuss your recollection of what happened. We will prepare a statement for you.
Experts in the relevant fields of medicine will help us assess what happened. For example, we may need to refer to an obstetrician, a midwife, a neonatologist, a neurologist, a surgeon or a GP. When we have obtained experts opinions, we will have a meeting with you, the experts, our junior barrister and often our QC.
This meeting is known as a Conference. It is designed to explore the strengths and weaknesses of the case and after that meeting we will draft a letter to the hospital setting out what happened.
To get to this stage can take 12 months or more. The hospital is supposed to reply to our letter within four months, but they rarely do. Their reply may admit that mistakes were made and that this caused injury. More often, however, the reply will deny that there were such mistakes.
When that happens, we have to issue court proceedings. This involves drafting ‘Particulars of Claim’, a document setting out the case. After we have served proceedings the hospital has 28 days to file a ‘Defence’. They often ask for an extension of time to do this.
The court will set a timetable for the management of the case. Many steps have to be taken. The timetable is usually about 18 months to the actual hearing of the case. During this time we will exchange witness statements and experts’ reports with the hospital. Our legal experts will have a discussion with the hospital’s experts to try and see what can be agreed. Our experience is that cases can be settled at any stage. If there is no settlement, there is a trial by a judge (no jury).
The judge reads and hears all the evidence and reaches a conclusion (hopefully in our favour).
I do my best to achieve success. A successful case can transform lives.