FAQ's - Diane Rostron

Medical Negligence Claims FAQs

We understand that many people have concerns and a number of questions when considering making a compensation claim for a birth injury or general medical negligence.

Over many years of supporting families and individuals with these types of claims, we have found that certain questions come up time and again. We therefore decided to answer those common questions to help anyone wanting to find out more about medical negligence claims and birth injury claims.

These FAQs are divided into sections covering general questions, the costs associated with making a claim, how the claims process works and information about the service we can offer you.

General questions about birth injury claims and medical negligence claims

Clinical negligence and medical negligence are both commonly used terms that mean the same thing – that the medical care you or a loved one received was negligent resulting in long-term damage to you, or your loved one’s health.

A key point to understand is that just because medical staff do not provide optimal care, this does not necessarily mean they were negligent. The test is to show that the treatment you, or your loved one received was substandard and that this led directly to you, or your loved one’s injury.

Various types of evidence may be used to demonstrate that medical care was negligent. This typically includes:

  • Medical records for you/your loved one
  • Your recollection of what happened during treatment
  • Witness statements from medical staff who provided treatment
  • Expert opinion from independent medical experts

This is entirely dependent on the circumstances, but as a general rule, if you believe the care you received was below the standard that competent medical staff should provide and this directly led to injury to you, or your loved one, you may have grounds for a claim. We would encourage you to get in touch at the earliest opportunity so we can discuss the specifics of your case and advise you on the strength of your claim.

This a common worry, especially as many people have no realistic choice but to continue to use the hospital where the injury occurred. However, it is important to stress that making a claim should never impact your ability to seek treatment or the quality of care you receive in future.

The fact you are making a claim should not be included in your medical records, meaning medical staff treating you or your loved one should not be aware of your claim.

When making a claim related to NHS hospital care, you will actually be taking action against the NHS Trust that runs the hospital. The only time you would make a claim against a specific person is if you needed to make a claim against a GP or a doctor at a private hospital.

Depending on the circumstances, we know that some people are worried that a doctor, nurse or other health worker could face disciplinary action, while others are concerned that the professional in question could hurt others if the right steps are not taken.

Disciplinary action against healthcare workers is entirely separate to the claims process, but in most cases nobody will lose their job unless their negligence was so severe that they would be considered a danger to others. However, they may be required to undergo additional training or have extra supervision in future.

Even if you win your claim for medical negligence, the hospital does not legally have to apologise to you. However, we realise that for many people the apology can be as important as the compensation, so wherever possible we will take steps to obtain an apology if you feel this would be of value to you or your loved one.

The costs of making a birth injury claim or medical negligence claim

There are three main costs associated with making a medical negligence claim:

1)    The legal fees of your solicitor

2)    Fees payable to medical experts, other legal experts, court fees and miscellaneous costs

3)    Legal expenses insurance

We will advise you about these costs and other funding arrangements in more detail at the outset so you are completely clear what costs will be incurred regardless of the outcome of your claim.

We are able to represent the majority of our clients on a no win, no fee basis.

Usually the only upfront cost you will have is for obtaining your/your loved’s ones medical records. There is usually a £50 fee per set of records. Occasionally we need to obtain records from more than one NHS trust.

No win, no fee arrangements mean that you only pay us if we win compensation for you. No two cases are the same and at the initial meeting we will discuss all aspects of funding with you.

To put it simply, if we don’t win compensation for you, you do not owe us anything.

Since April 2013, Legal Aid has no longer been available for general clinical negligence claims. However, there is still some Legal Aid funding for birth injury claims, which you may be able to access depending on your circumstances. We can advise you on your eligibility for Legal Aid for a birth injury claim, so please contact us if you would like to find out more.

How medical negligence claims work

When starting a medical negligence claim, it is important to be realistic about the time frames involved. It often takes up to a year to gather the necessary evidence, consult with independent medical experts and formally submit a claim.

After this, the speed of the claims process will largely depend on whether the hospital quickly admits liability and offers a suitable settlement, or whether we have to take further action. It is common for a complex claim to take a minimum of 2 years to resolve.

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This depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How serious the error was
  • What impact the error has had on your/ your loved one’s health
  • What amount you are willing to accept if the hospital makes a pre-trial settlement offer

You can normally claim two types of compensation for an injury due to clinical negligence:

1)    General damages – for your non-financial losses, such as compensating you for pain, suffering and changes to your lifestyle e.g. no longer being able to do a favourite hobby due to your injury.

2)    Special damages – for your financial losses, such as the cost of treatment, travel, specialist equipment, loss of earning etc.

For most medical negligence claims there is a 3-year time limit to bring a claim. This time limit is counted either from the time the negligence occurred, or the time when you became aware that you had experienced an injury if this only happens later, for example when seeing another doctor.

However, there are two exceptions to this:

1)    If the person who suffered the injury lacks capacity (for example, because they have learning difficulties) to bring a claim, there is no time limit for a loved one to bring a claim on their behalf.

2)    If the person who suffered the injury was a child, the 3-year time limit only comes into effect once they turn 18.

Because the 3-year time limit to bring a claim only comes into effect once your child turns 18, you will usually have until their 21st birthday to bring a claim. However, if they have been left without the capacity to bring a claim on their own behalf, there is no time limit. We have successfully pursued claims for adults in their 30s.

We will need as much information as possible from you at the outset, including:

  • Where you/your loved one were treated
  • Your recollection of what happened during treatment
  • The injuries you/your loved one were left with as a result
  • The impact this has had on your life, both financially and in other ways

This will allow us to start to build a clear picture of what happened and give you an estimate of how much compensation you may be able to claim.

In most cases, clinical negligence claims are resolved without the need to go to court.

Although the overwhelming majority of clinical negligence cases are resolved out of court, if the matter does go to court, you will usually need to attend a trial.

Our goal is to do the hard work for you, making it as easy and stress-free as possible for you to make a claim. However, there are various key stages where you will need to be directly involved, such as in the early stages when we are establishing what happened and in the unlikely event that your case does ultimately go to trial.

We will limit your or your loved one’s involvement as much as possible, so you can focus on living your life and dealing with your/their injuries. We will advise you from the outset of what we need from you and when, so you know exactly what to expect.

Our birth injury claims and medical negligence claims service

We are happy to consider any claim and in the past there have been several instances where we have taken on claims that other clinical negligence solicitors were unwilling or unable to progress. Many of our clients come to us by recommendations from other solicitors who are happy to defer to our expertise and experience, particularly in the area of birth injuries.

Time and again we hear from clients that one of the things they value most from us is being “kept in the loop” so they know what is going on at all times. This is why we place such a high priority on good communication with our clients.

We will agree with you at the outset how is most convenient for us to keep in touch with you, e.g. by phone, email, face-to-face, and then give you regular updates about the progress of your case so you never feel like you have been left in the dark.

There is no guarantee of success with any medical negligence compensation claim. However, our experience means we can give you a realistic idea of your chances once we understand the details of your case.

We will always be honest with you about the strength of your case as we would never want to raise your hopes unfairly or waste your time with a claim where there is no realistic prospect of success.

Diane Rostron is one of the UK’s leading clinical negligence lawyers with decades of experience including highly complex and high value cases. Together with her team she offers a warm, empathetic approach that covers more than straightforward legal advice.

Our team can assist you with all aspects of clinical negligence compensation claims, including accessing help from your local authority, as well as arranging therapy, special equipment and accommodation to meet your requirements.

We aim to provide a level of service that goes beyond that of other firms. We realise how daunting and stressful legal proceedings can be. We provide a holistic service that provides a personal touch, helping our clients to feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process.

We are accredited by the Law Society for Clinical Negligence and Diane is ranked for Clinical Negligence by Chambers, the leading client guide to UK lawyers. Chambers have described Diane as ‘having a strong profile for handling multi-million-pound cases. She covers a significant number of cerebral palsy and brain injury matters”.

We have particular expertise and experience in the area of birth injuries, making us a leading choice for birth injury claims.

Yes, we regularly attend inquests with clients and represent them during proceedings. Our goal is to ensure you understand the inquest proceedings, that your questions are answered and that the death of your loved one is thoroughly investigated.

In most cases, clinical negligence claims are resolved without the need to go to court.

Although the overwhelming majority of clinical negligence cases are resolved out of court, if the matter does go to court, you will usually need to attend a trial.

Our goal is to do the hard work for you, making it as easy and stress-free as possible for you to make a claim. However, there are various key stages where you will need to be directly involved, such as in the early stages when we are establishing what happened and in the unlikely event that your case does ultimately go to trial.

We will limit your or your loved one’s involvement as much as possible, so you can focus on living your life and dealing with your/their injuries. We will advise you from the outset of what we need from you and when, so you know exactly what to expect.

Start a medical negligence compensation claim now

To start a birth injury claim or any other type of medical negligence claim today, or for more information about our clinical negligence solicitors in Blackpool and Fleetwood, you can get in touch with our team by calling 01253 766 559 or emailing dr@addies.co.uk.