Making a clinical negligence claim: what, when, how and why?
Fortunately medical mistakes are rare but what can you do if you are unhappy with the care you have received? Rachel Pearce, Partner at Coodes Solicitors, discusses the process of making a clinical negligence claim.
Most of the time, we are fortunate to receive excellent care when we are treated in hospital or by a GP. However, sometimes mistakes are made or the quality of care is not what it should be. Sadly, the consequences can be life-changing. If you are in this situation, you may have considered making a clinical negligence claim but perhaps you don’t know where to start or feel daunted by what may be involved.
What is a clinical negligence claim?
A clinical negligence, or medical negligence, claim involves seeking compensation. If you have been injured when being treated in hospital or a GP surgery, and are experiencing problems in your life as a result, then you may have a valid claim. If you have lost a loved one as the result of a mistake or poor treatment then you may also be able to claim compensation.
When can I make a medical negligence claim?
If you feel you may be entitled to make a clinical negligence claim then it is best to act quickly. There are a few reasons for this. An important part of making a clinical negligence claim is that it can help you to receive private treatment to help you with your recovery. Starting this treatment as early as possible will give you the best chance of getting your life back on track.
Most clinical negligence cases have a three-year limit for making a claim. This starts from the date of the injury, or the date when you first became aware that the injury was the result of negligence. For cases involving children, this three-year period begins on their 18th birthday.
Starting the process as soon as possible will give your lawyer the best chance of thoroughly investigating the case for you.
How do I go about making a clinical negligence claim?
Making a clinical negligence claim may seem very daunting. It can be a complex process, but if you instruct an experienced lawyer who specialises in medical negligence cases then it is their job to make the process as easy as possible for you. Choosing a firm which, like Coodes, offers advice on a no win, no fee basis will relieve any concerns you might have about the financial risk of going through a claim. Coodes is now also the only law firm in Cornwall to offer Legal Aid for clinical negligence claims involving birth injuries.
The first step is to contact a lawyer, who will discuss your experience with you. An experienced lawyer will make you feel comfortable and at ease. They will then be able to tell you whether or not you are likely to have a strong case. It is helpful to have a timeline with you for the first meeting so you can talk through what happened in as much detail as possible.
Why should I make a clinical negligence claim?
Many people who have not been through the process of making a claim, assume it is all about financial compensation. In my experience this is not the main reason why most people want to pursue a claim.
For some, it is important to get recognition for what has happened and for those involved to admit they were in the wrong. Others are very motivated by ensuring changes will be made so no-one else has to go through what they went through. Another good reason for making a claim is to get the treatment you need to recover and try to get your life back to where it was. For many clients, being financially compensated is helpful. Perhaps, for example, you have experienced loss of earnings as a result of your injury or had to adapt your home.
Everyone is different, but it is likely you will want to pursue a medical negligence claim for a number of these reasons. It is most likely to be about fighting for justice and securing compensation to help rebuild your life.
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