Our solicitors are experts in medical negligence [or clinical negligence as it is also known] claims. Denise Broomfield is a member of both the Law Society Clinical Negligence and AvMA (campaigning charity Action against Medical Accidents) panels with over 15 years experience of medical negligence claims covering all areas of medical accidents.
Our solicitors act for clients in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire and throughout England and Wales.
We always offer FREE initial phone advice, and a FREE initial interview for all medical negligence claims – so call today and find out where you stand.
Call us now FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or locally on (01722) 422300
How much compensation will I recover?
Compensation for medical negligence claims is split into three categories:
- Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (ie damages for your physical injury)
- Damages for your out of pocket expenses (also called special damages) including lost earnings, hospital travel costs, care by your family, prescriptions and over the counter medicines. Please keep receipts, and keeping a diary can also be useful as it is always hard to remember these things as your case progresses
- Future expenses. If your claim is large, you may be able to claim future lost earnings, the cost of adapting your house or car, and future costs of someone caring for you
A member of my family has died as a result of poor medical treatment – can I still claim?
Family members can claim if a husband, wife, co-habitee of more than 2 years standing, child or someone else on whom they were financially dependent has died following a medical accident. There is a £11,800 standard bereavement payment. Further, if the deceased contributed financially to the upkeep of family members (eg the family breadwinner died leaving a partner and children), those relatives can also make a “dependency claim”.
Click here to read about our highly specialist Inquest and Fatal Accident Claims service
Time limits for medical negligence claims
Normally a claim must be brought within three years of the injury. If a child is injured then the three years runs from their 18th birthday.
In medical negligence claims, sometimes symptoms appear later, sometimes years later. In these cases the three year period runs from the date when the injury was discovered and was linked to previous medical treatment.
Limitation is a difficult area in medical negligence and we suggest that you take legal advice from a specialist solicitor as soon as you think you have had a medical accident.
Funding a medical negligence claim
You can fund your claim as follows:
- No win no fee agreements. We use these kind of arrangements for most medical negligence compensation claims.
Click here to read more about no win no fee agreements and how they could help you claim the compensation you are entitled to.
- Legal expenses insurance may also be available (which may be attached to your household or car insurance)
Legal Aid is, in general terms, no longer available for a medical negligence claim. The only very limited exception is for certain birth injuries.
Our solicitors can discuss funding with you at the FREE first interview.
The information we will need at your first appointment
At your appointment our solicitors will need, if it is possible, to have the following information:
- Details of your full name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and marital status
- Copies of ID, preferably containing a photograph (ie a modern driving licence or passport), and a recent utility bill confirming your address
- The date of your accident
- Details of when you realised that there might have been a problem with your medical treatment, if this is later
- The name of the NHS Trust treating you and your Consultant’s name
- A summary of the condition you went to hospital with
- A summary of why you think your treatment went wrong
- A quick summary of any financial expenses you have incurred, eg lost earnings, travel to hospital, prescription charges and the cost of somebody looking after you
- Copies of any correspondence with any doctors treating you or the hospital
- Anything else which you think is relevant to your accident
Don’t delay making your medical negligence claim
It’s important to take legal advice from our Solicitors as soon as possible after your accident – time limitation periods apply and it’s often easier investigating your compensation claim if you take early legal advice. At your first free interview with us, our medical negligence Solicitors will tell you whether your accident compensation claim is worth pursuing.
Home/Hospital visits are available for clients with serious injuries. Our clinical negligence Solicitors can see you in our Salisbury, Andover, Amesbury or Fordingbridge offices and we have interviewing facilities in West Dorset.
How Long Will My Medical Negligence Claim Take?
Our clients are often surprised to find out how long a medical negligence can actually take. Quite often, it’s their first experience of working with solicitors – or perhaps they’ve previously used a solicitor for a relatively swift piece of work such as a will which can be completed weeks your or even conveyancing, which just takes months
Unfortunately, making a medical negligence claim is usually much slower – and cases can take years to conclude. The precise length of a medical negligence claim varies from case to case, depending on how simple or complex it is. Once you have started your claim, it can take up to 12 months to investigate, although it can be less. For instance, if you are able to come to a settlement with the defendant [usually the NHS litigation authority], the claim could be completed in around 9 months. Unfortunately, the NHS are very slow in dealing with these claims, and rarely and admit errors at an early stage – even if they are clear.
Why does it take so long?. Obtaining the relevant medical records, seeking expert testimonies, gathering witness statements and analysing all of the evidence all take time. The Data Protection Act for example, permits whoever is holding your medical records to take up to 40 days to send them to us – and there’s nothing we can do to speed them up.
Sometimes delays can be positive however – cases can sometimes take longer if it’s important to see how your condition progresses – it would be entirely wrong for us to try to settle a claim if there was a chance that your condition would worsen or fail to respond to treatment, which could, in turn, mean a higher level of damages. Also, your case will take longer if it goes to trial – though fortunately the vast majority of cases are settled without the need for a full court hearing. Depending on the complexity of cases bought before the court, your case could take up to 3 or four years, no matter how quickly we work.
Whatever the circumstances of the case, our experienced medical negligence solicitors will do their best to get the right result for you – and a swift is possible – but if you’re going to make a claim for medical negligence, be warned that it won’t be a quick process.
What is a pain diary and should I keep one?
If you contact our team after you have been the victim of medical negligence, they will usually ask you to keep a pain diary.
This is a written record of how you feel on a day-to-day basis. You might not realise why you are doing it, and it can be frustrating having to think about the accident and the pain every day; but this diary can be very important. It will be used as evidence in Court and may affect the amount of compensation that you receive.
These pain diaries are more common than you think. Some people with long-term illnesses are asked to keep pain diaries, as it helps the doctors to gain a great deal of information about how the illness is affecting the person over a long period of time. The pain diary may reveal things that a short medical examination cannot.
With regard to your claim, a pain diary can provide really important information to medical professionals who are looking at your injuries. They can look at your symptoms to see how well you are recovering and this information can help to inform your treatment
Contested hearings for medical negligence claims
Fortunately the vast majority of medical negligence claims are settled by negotiation – which means you won’t have to go to court.
But just occasionally, that’s not possible. And that could mean an appearance at court to give evidence.
Knowing that you will have to give evidence in court can be very daunting for some people – but it need not be a stressful experience.
You are not expected to know the ins and outs of the law, nevertheless you should use the weeks before the trial to clarify any points of confusion with your lawyers, familiarise yourself with all the documents involved and make sure that you have reread your witness statement.
You should also check who are prohibited from speaking to, which will often be witnesses and defendants from the other side.
The day of the hearing – what happens
Make sure you arrive at court in plenty of time so that you can prepare yourself and have a meeting with your solicitor and barrister.
o The oath/affirmation: Once you take the witness stand you will be required to either swear an oath on a holy book or make a promise known as an affirmation. You may choose whichever option suits you best. The words will be read a card and if you swear an oath you will do so whilst holding up the holy book in your right hand.
o Examination in Chief: at this stage you will be questioned by your barrister so that the court can hear your evidence and build a picture of what happened
o Cross examination: This is a chance for your opponent’s barrister to question you and they will attempt to do so in a way that favours their cause and discredits yours. Your testimony will be scrutinised by testing your memory, looking for gaps in your evidence and questioning your conduct. You need not be panicked – simply take your time, answer honestly and only address to the judge.
o Witness re-examination: this will not always happen. When it does, it will be a case of your barrister clarifying any points of your testimony to respond to the other sides cross examination.
o Evidence from expert medical witnesses: the expert medical professionals who were called upon to give an opinion on your claim and assess the extent of injuries sustained in the accident will then be required to give evidence. Their opinion will be important in calculating the damages required to compensate you for the costs of medical treatment, equipment needed, training to cope with your injuries and your general suffering.
After all of these stages, the barristers from both sides will speak to conclude their case.
4 things to remember when giving evidence
1. Be completely honest. You have promised to do so and should you be found to have lied there will be very serious criminal penalties.
2. If you can’t remember something – say so, and if you don’t understand a question – ask for it to be rephrased.
3. Face the judge at all times, not the barrister. It is the judge who will decide the outcome, so speak to them
4. Don’t fear the other side’s lawyers but don’t confront them either. Simply focus on delivering your evidence clearly