The value of specialist medical negligence solicitors
29/05/20 | Medical Negligence
A medical negligence claim is a heavy responsibility. When someone has been let down by a medical professional and suffered harm as a result, it can have an ongoing impact on that person physically, emotionally and financially.
As medical negligence specialists, we understand how devastating this can be. This is why we make every effort to support claimants on the long and often-complicated journey to prove that a negligent act took place by establishing that:
- The patient received unacceptable care from a professional (a breach of their duty of care)
- The patient suffered pain, injury, loss or damage as a result
- This harm was directly caused by this unacceptable medical care
Establishing these factors is far from straightforward, which is why it requires the undivided attention and understanding of the law that true specialist medical negligence solicitors can provide. This ensures claims are appropriately investigated and pursued, and that those affected receive the compensation they are rightly owed.
However, when there are many purporting to be specialists out there, how can you tell if a solicitor has the right expertise for your case?
Why do I need a solicitor for a medical negligence claim?
Strictly speaking, it is not required for someone to instruct a medical negligence solicitor to handle their claim, in the same way you don’t need to hire an experienced contractor to build your house extension.
While it is not an absolute necessity, it is about having the expertise and reassurance behind you that a solicitor who deals with medical negligence can offer.
The complexity of the medical negligence claims process
As noted earlier, the aim of the medical negligence claims process is to demonstrate that the claimant received unacceptable care by a medical professional, and this was the direct cause of their injury.
In order to prove medical negligence occurred requires a thorough examination of the evidence available, which can include:
- A letter of complaint made to the medical facility in question
- Medical records detailing the treatment that took place
- Witness statements from family and friends detailing how life has changed for the person affected by this negligent care
- Expert medical evidence from an independent, trusted source
- Financial evidence of any loss of earnings, expenses and other financial details that the claimant has endured as a result of their suffering
Investigating and analysing the available evidence, and then compiling what is learned into an effective claim, is a complex and arduous task; a generalist firm is unlikely to have the expertise or time to dedicate to this process.
For instance, if your child was born with Cerebral Palsy. This may be as a result of oversights in care during either the pregnancy, labour or delivery. Establishing this can take months or years, as there are many factors at play and opportunities for negligence to take place.
Without experienced experts carrying out this investigation, you might be told that you do not have a claim when you do or, even if it does proceed, important details may be missed that could entitle you to further compensation.
That is where the insight of a specialist medical negligence solicitor is so valuable – we are highly experienced in the process of bringing a claim, and this ensures that no stone is left unturned. This means you will have no doubt about:
- If your claim has a strong possibility of succeeding; and
- The complexities involved in calculating compensation are fully understood.
It doesn’t necessarily mean your case will proceed any faster, but it will be handled more efficiently and effectively for the best outcome for you.
Knowing the difference between medical negligence and personal injury
So what is the problem with approaching a personal injury specialist to support your medical negligence claim? As above, this is a matter of experience and specific expertise.
Medical negligence covers a broad range of scenarios and applies to many healthcare providers. We do not only take on cases against the NHS for negligent acts, we also help clients bring claims against private GPs, midwives, dentists, opticians, physiotherapists and other professionals who have caused them harm.
This is not to suggest that personal injury claims do not carry their own complexities. But personal injury cases differ from medical negligence cases in that they:
- Can occur in settings outside of a healthcare environment, such as at work or while driving
- Will often take only a matter of months to resolve, while medical negligence cases can extend into years
- It will often be quite straightforward to determine that someone is to blame for the incident
Unfortunately, this may mean that you could find your case being run by a solicitor without the relevant knowledge to manage its complexities, or who doesn’t have the time available to thoroughly assess your claim and the compensation to which you are entitled.
This might not mean you do not receive any form of compensation at the end of it, but it could be significantly lower than you would have received if a specialist medical negligence solicitor had been advising you who:
- Has a complete understanding of the area of medical negligence that impacted you;
- Is experienced in the process involved in investigating a claim, assessing evidence and managing negotiations for compensation;
- Will take the time required to understand the nature of your situation and the effect it has had on you and your loved ones.
Any assumption that working with a ‘specialist’ medical negligence solicitor is inaccessible or too expensive is remedied by ‘No Win, No Fee’ claims. Through these, people can pursue the justice and compensation they deserve without the threat of financial repercussions if their claim is unsuccessful.
The qualities to look for in a specialist medical negligence solicitor
Now that we have established the value of working with specialist medical solicitors, how can you ensure you choose one that fits the criteria?
1. Check their accreditations
Above all else, you can ascertain whether someone is a medical negligence expert if they belong to one (or more) of the following bodies:
- The Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel
- The Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) Referral Panel
- The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)
Each of our partners is accredited to more than one of these high professional standards, indicating that our team carries the expertise and understanding to lead medical negligence cases on behalf of our clients, regardless of complexity. In addition, other advantages include:
- Access to a wider range of funding options for your case
- Greater likelihood to win your claim/know your claim is worth pursuing
- Greater chance of your case being settled out of court
Verifying that the solicitor who works for you is accredited by one or more these bodies should give you reassurance that they meet the highest standards of client care, and that they will work in your best interests to ensure you receive the answers and compensation you are entitled to.
2. Research their level of experience
As well as establishing that they have the correct accreditations, you should also research their experience of investigating and managing medical negligence cases. Whether this is by exploring relevant case studies or examining the profiles of the various solicitors within the firm, you should take the time to reassure yourself that this is a team you can trust.
3. Talk to them personally
Finally, a specialist medical negligence solicitor should be willing to meet with you face-to-face to discuss the nature of your case. This will give you an opportunity to determine that they not only have an expert understanding of the law behind your claim, but that they are empathetic towards your circumstances and that your personalities are compatible.
The journey to concluding a medical negligence case is long, complicated and emotional, so it is important you are comfortable with the solicitor pursuing your claim.
Speak to true medical negligence experts
It is impossible to overstate the long-term impact that a medical mistake can have on a patient and their loved ones. And while you can’t undo the emotional or physical damage, you should feel confident that you have a team in your corner that can help you get life back on track.
At Gadsby Wicks, we promise you the best result possible. Through decades of combined experience, you can rely on us to support you at every stage of your claim, so you secure the compensation, answers and justice you deserve.
Don’t settle for any less than a specialist – talk to us today.
All content contained within this article is meant for general information only – this should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. If you require legal advice specific to your situation, please contact our team directly.
Gadsby Wicks is not liable for any diagnosis made from the content of this article, nor does it endorse any service or external site linked to within the article.
Always consult your GP if you are concerned about your health and wellbeing, or speak to us if you require legal advice.