How to make a claim

Make sure you do thorough research and speak to a few law firms before choosing. They should give you a free initial consultation meeting. Your solicitor can explain the options for funding the initial investigation and potential claim.

Once funding is in place, your solicitor will get all relevant medical notes and records from the hospitals and other health practitioners involved.

Getting a report

Independent medical experts will use these notes and records, and a statement you give your solicitor, to prepare a report. Those expert reports will either support the claim or say that a claim is not sustainable.

If the reports support a claim, the next stage is to work out the value of the claim. An accurate assessment is carried out using further expert reports from many therapists and professionals.

By this point, your solicitor will have a view about whether or not clinical negligence caused your or your child’s disability and what amount of compensation you or your child may be entitled to.

Your clinical negligence action

This will look at three distinct issues:

  • Breach of duty – whether the standard of medical care given to you or your child was below that which could reasonably be expected. This is judged according to the standards and medical knowledge at the time of the alleged incident.
  • Causation – the link between the breach of duty and the impairment. Did the medical staff’s failures in care contribute significantly to the impairment? You will need to show that the impairment has no other known cause.
  • Quantum – the amount of compensation that you should be awarded based on meeting the needs of the disabled person.

How long does it take?

Making a claim can be a long process and depends on many things that your solicitor can't directly control. These include the availability of experts to report promptly and where a claim goes to trial, the court timetable. It is inappropriate to conclude an action in negligence until there is an actual prognosis and detailed understanding of how future needs can be met.

How long do you have to bring a medical negligence claim?

Your solicitor should be able to advise you at your first meeting on the time limits for bringing a claim. Normally you have three years from the alleged injury or date of knowledge of the injury. In the case of a child, the three years does not start until age 18, so you may have up to 21 years to bring a claim if the injury happened at birth.

However, it is best to start an investigation as early as possible, while things are likely to be clearer in your mind.

If the injured person has a significant intellectual impairment, whether or not from the injury, the limitation period of three years will not apply. So it's worth enquiring, even if the person involved is over 21.

Contact our helpline