Medical negligence FAQs
The most commonly asked medical negligence claims questions you might have, answered by our legal experts.
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Do I have to pay legal costs to make a claim for medical negligence?
If you have a claim for medical negligence, your case can be funded under a No Win No Fee agreement. A No Win No Fee agreement, also known as a conditional fee agreement, is an agreement signed by you and your lawyer which states that if you lose your case, you will not have to pay any legal costs.
Also, although legal aid isn’t available for most cases, Slater and Gordon are able to offer legal aid for children who have suffered from a neurological injury at birth or within the neonatal period.
How long will the case take?
Every case is different so it's difficult to say how long a case is likely to take without first reviewing the circumstances. One of the factors involved in how long a case will take is whether or not the other party accepts responsibility for the accident. This is called "establishing liability" – working out who is liable for the accident.
Another factor is the severity of the injuries. For example, you may suffer a minor injury which you recover from after several months or a more serious injury that takes several years. However, our medical negligence experts will ensure that your case is dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How much compensation can you claim for medical negligence?
Compensation is split into two parts:
General damages: General damages is the amount of compensation you'll receive for pain, suffering and the affect it’s had on your day to day life. It's based on the severity of the injuries you have suffered and the length of time it's taken to recover, if you have indeed recovered from the injuries sustained. As a result, every case is different. However, our lawyers who specialise in medical negligence have years of experience in this area and will be able to provide an estimate of the amount of general damages you're likely to recover.
Special damages: Special damages is the amount of compensation you receive to cover any losses or 'out of pocket expenses' you've incurred as a result of the negligence, such as:
- Prescription costs and medication
- Aids and equipment
- Private treatment costs / rehabilitation
- Travelling expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of pension
- House adaptations or new property
It also takes into account costs and losses which will continue in the future, such as:
- Future loss of earnings
- Future pension loss
- Future aids and equipment
- Future care costs
This is to ensure that you don't suffer financial hardship as a result of the negligence you’ve suffered.
Can I get compensation payments before the case has settled?
Once liability has been established (i.e. the other party has accepted full or partial blame for your injuries/condition) you can apply for early payments of your compensation. These are called interim payments.
People who've suffered a serious injury can often, as a result, suffer financial difficulties, for example if they've been unable to work or have had to pay for private treatment or rehabilitation costs. Interim payments can be applied for to cover these costs and form part of your overall claim. So, for example, if your case settles for £10,000 and you have already received two interim payments of £1,000 your final payment of compensation will be £8,000.
Are there time limits on making a claim for compensation?
In England, Wales and Scotland, the general rule is that a claim should be brought within three years of the date that the incident causing an injury or illness occurred or the date you were first aware that you had suffered an injury or illness due to negligence. However, there are exceptions, such as:
- Where a claim is being made on behalf of someone who has passed away, the claim must be brought within three years of their date of death
- Where a claim is being made on behalf of a child, the three year time limit does not begin until the child reaches age 18 in England and Wales or the child reaches age 16 in Scotland
- The time limit when making a claim under is one year
- Where the injured person lacks mental capacity at the time of injury, there’s no time limit until and if they gain capacity
- Different time limits may apply if the medical negligence occurred whilst abroad
Although these are the general rules when it comes to time limits, there may be occasions when the court would make a discretionary decision in order to pursue a claim outside the general time limits, so it's always best to speak to a specialist lawyer who can advise you on whether or not you can pursue a claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Understandably, many people are concerned about having to attend court as it can be a daunting prospect. However, the vast majority of claims for compensation reach a successful settlement before a final hearing at court. There are a small number of cases that unfortunately don't reach a successful conclusion prior to the final hearing and in those cases, it is necessary to attend court.
However, our expert medical negligence lawyers will be with you every step of the way and will ensure that the process is as stress free as possible.
Will I need a medical examination?
In order to make a claim for medical negligence, it's important that we have evidence of your condition and you’ll therefore have to attend a medical examination with an independent medical expert who specialises in preparing reports to use as evidence in a legal case. These reports are known as medico legal reports.
Depending on the type and severity of your condition, you may need to attend more than one medical examination to ensure we have all the medico legal reports we need to support your claim for compensation.
My child has been injured as a result of medical negligence. How do I make a claim on their behalf?
Children are unable to make claims on their own behalf and must therefore be made by a trusted adult, usually a parent or grandparent. When someone makes a claim on behalf of a child, they're known as a 'litigation friend'.
Kept informed regularly as to how my claim was going, prompt replies to any questions I had, excellent customer service at all times. Excellent service from all staff that have been involved in my claim. Ms S (medical negligence client)
I cannot recommend Slater and Gordon enough, throughout the entire period of the case, all the staff have been both very professional, and supportive. Mr Q (medical negligence client)
I just wanted to say thank you so much for everything Slater and Gordon have done to fight this case for us. I appreciate it has involved a lot of people. Please can you also thank the expert witnesses who have provided their expertise and help. Mr and Mrs H (medical negligence client)