What are the stages of a medical negligence claim?

Making a claim for medical negligence can seem daunting – especially as the vast majority of claimants may be going through the process for the first time. As you probably know, medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care to protect their health from the risk of harm. When they fail in this regard, they may be deemed negligent and the results can be devastating. In this case, you must be able to prove that your healthcare provider was negligent and that their treatment directly caused you an injury.

This article discusses the different stages of a medical negligence claim, from the first point of contact with medical negligence solicitors through to completing a successful claims process.

Step 1 – Initial enquiry

One of the first steps in a medical malpractice lawsuit is to contact a medical negligence lawyer to provide details of your case as soon as possible. This includes the details of the treatment you received and the injuries you sustained as a result. Based on the details you have provided, your medical negligence solicitor will determine whether there are grounds for a claim.

If they believe you have legitimate reasons for a claim, they will discuss the funding of the case with you.

Step 2 – Funding

There is a very limited list of claims that can seek legal aid. For some other claimants, they may already have legal cover in addition to their insurance products. However, the most common form of funding is the No Win No Fee medical negligence agreement. Under this arrangement, medical negligence compensation claims can be made without the financial risks associated with making a claim. We will let you know what this arrangement involves and how it can be used for your claim.

Step 3 – Obtaining records

This is one of the most important stages in a medical negligence case. We will obtain information about the quality of treatment you received in order to understand how it has affected your life. To achieve a successful claim, your medical negligence solicitors will need to prove that:

  • The medical professional responsible for your care provided treatment that fell below the standard of care (breach of duty).
  • Due to the substandard care you received, you suffered an injury or your existing condition became worse, resulting in pain and loss of amenity such as financial loss (causation).

Step 4 – Instructing a medical expert

To establish breach of duty and causation, independent experts will be instructed to examine your situation and prepare medical reports. Medical experts can only have opinions on areas within their specialty. For instance, a gynaecologist can only comment on the actions of other gynaecologists. As a result, more than one medical expert may be instructed. Their report will not only determine whether your medical professional was negligent, but how long your recovery will take.

Step 5 – Negotiation

Once supporting evidence for your claim has been obtained, we will submit a Letter of Claim to the defendant on your behalf. This letter will provide details of your allegations in accordance with medical expert opinion. The defendant will have about four months to respond in respect of liability – to accept, deny, or request for proof of negligence.

If the defendant admits liability in your case, then the parties involved, including our professional medical negligence solicitors will assess the extent of damage and negotiate the value of your claim. If liability is denied, the strength of your claim will be reassessed before determining whether there are sufficient grounds for the claim to be taken to trial.

Step 6 – Pursuing a claim in court

The vast majority of medical negligence cases are settled outside the court. However, in complex cases where the liability is in dispute, court proceedings may be issued to determine whether the defendant in your case is at fault. If the trial is successful, then you can negotiate a compensation amount with your opponent without any further trial. However, in rare cases where an agreement is still not reached, a second trial will be arranged for at a later date to determine the compensation award.

Step 7 – Calculating the compensation award

It is often impossible to fully compensate for the pain and suffering a person experiences as a result of medical negligence. However, compensation can assist in improving the individual’s quality of life and cover the cost of any financial losses incurred as a result of the injury.

It is important to note that there is no specific compensation amount for medical negligence claims, as every claim is unique. Our medical negligence claim calculator can give you an idea of what to expect as a compensation award. Typically, your compensation will be made up of two categories:

  • General Damages – This is compensation for the pain, suffering and impact of the injury on your life. Your compensation award will depend on the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines in reference to compensation awards for similar cases in the past.
  • Special Damages – This refers to compensation for financial losses incurred as a result of medical negligence. This may include travel expenses, medical bills, and loss of earnings.

If you believe you may have legitimate grounds for a medical negligence claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with our solicitors. It is important that you contact us as soon as possible, as there is a strict medical negligence claims time limit. You may call us on 0800 644 4240 or fill our free claims assessment form and we will get back to you at your convenience.