Rachel Pearce, Partner and Head of Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence at Coodes Solicitors, explains when Legal Aid can be made available for clinical negligence claims.
Legal Aid is designed to meet some of the costs of accessing legal advice. The Government funding is perhaps usually associated with criminal cases and with supporting people in family law matters, particularly those involving domestic abuse. However, in some very specific cases it is also available for those seeking compensation following clinical negligence.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a mistake made in a hospital or another healthcare setting, you may be able to access Legal Aid to support a compensation claim. While much of the Legal Aid funding for clinical negligence was cut in 2013, it is still available in very specific circumstances.
Which clinical negligence cases qualify for Legal Aid?
Legal Aid may be granted for compensation claims for the following clinical negligence incidents:
- A baby who has suffered a severe brain injury in pregnancy or during or shortly after birth.
- Those clinical negligence cases that are deemed to be ‘exceptional’ by the Director of Legal Aid Casework.
The Legal Aid Agency will also take your financial circumstances into account when making a decision.
If you are unsure whether or not you are eligible, you should first of all speak to a specialist clinical negligence lawyer. If you contact the Clinical Negligence team at Coodes and we feel you might qualify for Legal Aid, we will work with you to complete an application to the Legal Aid Agency.
Which solicitor should I use for my Legal Aid case?
The Legal Aid Agency has a select group of law firms that hold contracts to support Legal Aid funded compensation claims. These firms have been chosen using a rigorous process to ensure they are accredited clinical negligence specialists with the necessary expertise in this highly specialised area.
If you are eligible for Legal Aid, you will need to appoint one of these firms to advise you.
Coodes Solicitors is one of a small number of UK law firms, and one of only two in Cornwall, to hold a Legal Aid contract for clinical negligence claims relating to birth injuries.
Coodes’ Clinical Negligence team supports people to fight for and achieve justice as well as securing compensation to help rebuild their lives after suffering injuries as a result of clinical negligence. The team has decades of experience in helping clients obtain compensation for a range of issues, including birth injuries.
We know that, when things do not go as they should during pregnancy or birth, the impact on the child and parents can be devastating. Because of our wealth of experience, we also understand the process for claiming compensation in these complex and emotionally challenging circumstances.
If you do not qualify for Legal Aid but still want to pursue a claim, it is important to ensure that you choose a solicitor with the necessary experience and specialist knowledge to handle your case.
How can I fund my case if I do not qualify for Legal Aid?
If you are seeking compensation for a clinical negligence case but do not qualify for Legal Aid, you may understandably be concerned about how you will fund your case. In particular, you may worry about what will happen if you pay for legal advice but do not then receive damages.
That is why Coodes will discuss the various funding options with you at the outset of the case. Perhaps you already have legal expenses insurance, which may cover the costs of your claim. However, we can offer to pursue any claim that we feel is sufficiently strong on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Put simply, this arrangement means that you will not pay any legal fees unless your claim is successful. If you win your case, your opponent (i.e. the healthcare provider) will pay the majority of your legal costs.
Whatever your financial situation and the nature of your case, speak to a specialist clinical negligence lawyer at the earliest opportunity to find out what your options are.
For more information or advice on these issues, please contact Rachel Pearce, Coodes Solicitors Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence team, on 01326 318 900 or email@example.com