How to make a negligence claim

Make sure you do thorough research and speak to a few law firms before choosing. They should give you a free initial consultation. 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.

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 assess its value, using further expert reports from therapists and professionals.

By this point, your solicitor will have a view about:

  • whether or not clinical negligence caused the disability
  • and the possible amount of compensation

Your clinical negligence action

This will look at three distinct issues:

  • Breach of duty – whether the standard of medical care was below the expected 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 based on meeting the needs of the disabled person.

How long does a negligence claim take?

Making a claim can be a long process. It depends on many things that your solicitor can't control. These include the availability of experts to report 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 tell 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. For a child, the 3 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.

It's 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 limit of 3 years will not apply. So it's worth enquiring, even if the person is over 21.

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