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Clinical negligence

For customers looking to find out more about clinical /medical negligence caused by a health care professional

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What if the person who suffered negligence has died?


In the unfortunate event that negligent actions have resulted in the death of a loved one, then a family member can still proceed with the claim. We will support you through the inquest procedure if the coroner requests that an inquest hearing take place and will help prepare for the hearing itself.

Will I have to go to court?


Only a very small number of clinical negligence claims actually go to trial.

The Courts expect parties to follow the Pre-Action Protocol for Clinical Disputes first. Briefly, the protocol states that once the claimant’s solicitors (us) have completed initial investigations, a detailed letter of claim should follow. This sets out the nature of the claim, the losses suffered, and the negligence which has occurred and by who.

The defendant (the negligent party) then has a period of four months to investigate the claim and provide a letter of response. Parties who don’t follow the protocol will be criticised at court as the aim is to try and settle as many of the disputes without issuing court proceedings.

Even if court proceedings are issued, parties may still reach a settlement through negotiation or through mediation.

Can I get legal aid to fund the cost of a clinical negligence claim?


Legal aid is not available for clinical negligence claims except for certain types of cases such as birth injury claims. Whilst we are happy to advise and act on birth injury claims, we do not handle legal aid cases and would therefore discuss funding with you so that you can make an informed decision before proceeding with a claim.

How much will it cost to pursue a clinical negligence claim?


At Minster Law, as a starting point, we undertake robust enquiries to see whether a method of funding such as legal expenses insurance or trade union funding is available and will cover the cost of pursuing the claim.

The law states that solicitors can charge a “success fee” if their case is successful. The success fee is not recoverable from the defendant and is paid from your damages. The success fee is capped at 25% of general damages and past losses. The success fee allows us to fund all the costs of a claim upfront without asking for a penny from our clients, whereby some solicitors ask the client to pay for initial investigations before taking on a claim.

The rules relating to Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) are complicated and long. It is better that you speak to a clinical negligence expert at Minster Law so that the process can be explained to you properly.

How long do I have to make a claim?


The court rules state that court proceedings must be issued before the 3rd anniversary of when the negligence took place or from the date that the client found out the negligence happened.

There are some exceptions to the general rule; for example, if the person bringing the claim is under 18 then the 3 years does not start running until the child reaches the age of 18. If the client lacks “mental capacity”, then the 3-year time limit does not apply. In both of those cases, a “litigation friend” will be appointed to deal with the claim on behalf of the client.

The court can also disapply the 3-year limitation period in exceptional circumstances, but this is a rare occurrence. At Minster, we advise clients to seek legal advice as soon as possible to enable the claim to be dealt with within the 3-year limitation period.

How much can I claim?


The exact amount a client receives if their claim is successful is worked out on a case-by-case basis. However, in a successful claim, the following damages will be considered:

General damages – An award for the pain and suffering as a result of the negligence or injury.

Special damages – Past losses which can be evidenced such as loss of earnings, care costs, travelling expenses, or any items purchased due to the negligence and prescription costs.

Future losses – Any losses which are going to be incurred in the future and which are directly attributable to the negligence. These can include things such as future loss of earnings, future care costs, future treatment which will be required, the cost of adaptation of a house or an accommodation claim if a house needs to be bought.

As each case is different, we would advise you to speak to an experienced clinical negligence expert at Minster Law to gain a better idea as to what your level of compensation will be.

Who can a claim be made against?


A claimant can bring a claim against any medical professional such as a consultant, a GP, a dentist, a healthcare worker, or an optician. It does not matter whether it is an NHS hospital, a private hospital, or an individual medical professional. Again, the simplest way to find out is by contacting us at Minster Law either by telephone or email and we can offer a free consultation.

Does clinical negligence only apply to treatment?


Clinical negligence covers a whole array of medical mistakes. Including:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Failing to get the proper consent from a patient
  • Failing to diagnose a condition
  • Delay in diagnosing a condition
  • Failing to warn about the risks of the treatment

If you have a concern or wish to enquire whether you have a claim, simply pick up the telephone or email us at Minster Law and we will provide you with a free, no-obligation 30 mins telephone consultation on whether we think you have a claim.

What is clinical negligence and medical negligence?


Clinical negligence and medical negligence are the same. A claim for clinical negligence is where a person (claimant) believes that the treatment they have received was negligent and that the negligence has caused injury.