Claims Process 2016-10-26T16:37:38+00:00

NB: Please note that we are unable to help with potential cases that happened in Scottish hospitals/GPS as the firm operates under English law.

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The Claims Process

When can I claim?

Court proceedings have to be started within three years from when the negligence occurred or when you first realised there was negligence.

If you decide to bring court action, it is important you instruct a specialist solicitor to begin work on a claim as early as possible as they will need time to investigate and prepare your case.

What is involved?

A clinical negligence claim can be split into 2 phases. The first phase will be where your solicitor will need to make an assessment of your case, and seek expert opinion into what happened. This is known as the “investigative” stage. It will include: Obtaining all your relevant medical records to undertake a preliminary analysis. Medical experts will be instructed to also analyse your case. They will look through all the case notes, and may need to meet and examine you.

On the basis of this evidence, they will produce a formal report, stating their views on the treatment you received.

Your case will then be assessed by an independent barrister who will give written advice as to the strength of the claim. If, at the end of this process, your solicitor decides your case is worth pursuing, then your claim will enter a second phase.

This phase starts with the allegation of clinical negligence being put to the defendants in a formal manner and unless a settlement can be reached can end up in court.

How long can I take?

Clinical negligence claims can, in most cases, be a long-drawn-out process. The solicitor that handles your claim is dependent on other parties co-operating with them and this is not always the case.

In the first instance, it can take time (weeks) to obtain all of your medical records and other relevant documents from other parties. Sometimes, it is necessary to have a preliminary court hearing, just to obtain all these documents, and this needs to be done before any investigation of your clinical negligence case can begin.

Getting the opinion of a medical expert can often take time. These experts may be practising clinicians themselves and have very demanding schedules and, as a result, may require a considerable amount of time to produce a report. The amount of time it will take to investigate your claim will therefore depend on the number of experts whose opinions are needed, the availability of such experts, and the complexity of the clinical issues involved in your case.

Once your claim has been fully investigated, the process of putting allegations to the defendants, receiving and acting on their response and, if necessary, preparing for a trial can take a long time. It is impossible to give precise timings but as a general rule, it can take at least 12 months to complete the investigative phase of a claim and if your claim is complicated, even longer.

The second phase is where the sides put formal arguments to each other and, if a settlement cannot be reached, proceed to go to court. The time frame is best estimated in years, rather than months; all things being equal, it should not be more than 2 years.

Will I have to appear in court?

Rarely, only a small percentage of clinical negligence claims will ever reach a courtroom, as a settlement may be agreed long before this stage.

Rules have been introduced with the aim to encourage all parties to settle claims more quickly and at less cost. More claims are now settled before any legal proceedings are issued.

If your claim is not settled, then formal legal proceedings will have to begin. Following this, your claim will run on a timetable which will be set down by the Court. Nevertheless, your claim may still be unlikely to end up in a trial, with you having to give evidence. Few clinical negligence cases end up in court. Generally it is only very complicated cases where opposing sides cannot agree, or those that have a very high value.

To talk about your compensation claim call 0844 484 7774

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