Health professionals work in tough atmospheres, and they work to the best of their abilities to provide proper care. But sometimes the care you receive may be below expected standards, and such negligence can make an already unhealthy condition worse.
If you are thinking about filing a Clinical Negligence claim and are confused about the process, uncertain of where to start, or unsure of whether to go through with the claim at all, you’ll find this article useful. We will address the 5 main questions to consider prior to beginning a Clinical Negligence case.
If necessary, are you ready to go to Court?
Many Clinical Negligence claims get settled out of court. Studies show that less than 5% of cases end up going to a full Court trial.
Whether you believe your case will go to Court or be settled before the trial begins, it’s worthwhile to prepare yourself for the trial mentally. Govern your behavior and believe everything that you say about your case. How the judge perceives you is of paramount importance.
Question whether you are ready for a Court appearance. Would you be able to provide witness evidence after swearing an oath? Can you endure standing in front of a judge and answer all his questions easily? If the answers to those questions are “no”, then you shouldn’t begin the claim yet. You should, however, inform your solicitor about this and adhere to their recommendations.
Are you prepared to address sensitive medical treatment questions?
Similar to the above, this query refers to your personal levels of comfort and what you are and aren’t able to do.
To determine what the Defendant will ask you, your solicitor will play devil’s advocate. As such, expect to be asked tough questions, ones that may make you feel like the solicitor has turned against you. This is not the case – the solicitor does this to prepare you for the Defendant’s arguments so you can react and respond accordingly. This way, no question will catch you off-guard.
For instance, if your solicitor believes the Defendant will state that you should have addressed your treatment concerns to your doctor earlier, you can expect to be asked:
- “why did you wait half a year to address your issues?”
- “Why did you keep letting Dr. X treat you if you were mistrustful of him?”
- “Why didn’t you obtain a second opinion?”
- “Why didn’t you act prior to X, Y, or Z occurring?”
Be making you prepared for such harsh questions, they can easily dismantle the Defendant’s argument.
Have you totally recovered?
It is prudent to be completely recovered prior to starting a claim since it will make your injury simpler to assess (i.e. put a financial figure on your delayed recovery/injury, etc.). Be mindful that that bringing a claim can be quite stressful, and if you think such stress will be detrimental to your health, it is recommended that you wait until your health improves to the point where you can get back on the case.
You have a few years to bring a claim; the deadline starts from the time you acknowledge negligence. This is known as Date of Knowledge, and it allows you to get healthier prior to beginning a claim.
Even though it’s not recommended to wait until the eleventh hour of the three-year deadline, it is smart to ensure you have completely recovered, or recover as much as you can, prior to bringing a claim. If you intend to use a solicitor to bring your claim for Clinical Negligence, then it would be wise to speak with them at least half a year prior to the end of the deadline.
Are you bringing a claim on time?
To reintegrate what was mentioned earlier, ensure you bring a claim before the deadline ends. You have a three-year window that starts when you realize you had endured negligence. The time will be barred if you attempt to bring a claim after the deadline expires. In rare situations, a Court might permit the case past the three-year window.
What are my choices for funding?
Many claims for Clinical Negligence can be taken on by a solicitor with an agreement called “No Win No Fee”. This arrangement allows the solicitor to receive up to 25% of your compensation to cover legal fees. This percentage can be negotiated if your solicitor is open to adjusting it.
With a “No Win No Fee Agreement”, you don’t pay any legal fees if you lose in court. However, you may still be responsible for disbursements that were paid by your solicitor on your behalf. Disbursements consist of fees to pay for the medical expert’s contribution, your medical records, Court costs, and the like. Your solicitor may also acquire insurance to keep you protected from having to pay such disbursements, should your case be unsuccessful.
There are additional funding options available; your claim could be funded with pre-existing legal coverage on your car insurance or house & contents insurance. It is worth reviewing your insurance policies to determine if you have this type of coverage. There are advantages to paying for claims using pre-existing insurance policies since several insurance providers will let you keep every cent of your compensation. However, you might not have the benefit of selecting your own solicitor and be subjected to the one selected by the insurance company. It isn’t very likely that you’ll meet them in person and instead communicate with them online or by phone.
Bringing a Clinical Negligence claim is a lengthy, tedious process and may test your patience. However, if you consider the process, advise a solicitor, and listen to their recommendations, the process will be much easier.