From serious injury to death, clinical negligence is a major concern for both doctors and patients. With notified claims rising more than 52% since 2005/06 it is worth taking an interest into how to claim the right compensation. The NHS paid out £729.1 million last year, and this can be for anything from dental errors to birth injury to cancer diagnosis. Let’s take a look at a recent clinical negligence case—and how you can claim maximum compensation when you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice.
According to Pennington’s Clinical Negligence Annual Report 2012, obstetrics and gynecology continue to attract some of the highest number of claims—12,045 or 18% of claims made in 2010/2011—as well as the highest payout values. A high profile case from 2012 will demonstrate this point. Eleven-year-old Milly Evans suffered devastating birth injuries as the result of medics failing to notice that her heart had stopped beating shortly after birth. Now, she suffers from cerebral palsy and is trapped inside of a body that does not function, needing ‘round the clock care and special assistance for daily living. To ensure that Milly has top quality care for the rest of her life, a High Court judge awarded Milly and the Evans family £10.8 million in damages earlier this year. According to Pennington’s, surgery claims and medicine claims also account for a high proportion of NHSLA payouts each year.
If you think you have a clinical negligence case, you should contact clinical negligence solicitors immediately to assess whether or not you should file a claim. These types of claims are often long, complicated, and expensive: Pennington’s report shows that on average, claims take about 1.28 years to settle and that legal costs (claimant and defendant) account for 29% of total costs paid out by the NHSLA. Get the right legal help on your side early and be willing to help expedite the process in any way you can: keep written records of hospital visits and expenses, and provide your solicitor with full access to your medical records.
Remember that when it comes to clinical negligence compensation, two types of awards are given: general and special damages. The term general damages refers to compensation given for loss of quality of life you’ve suffered as the result of clinical negligence that does not have an exact dollar value—such as pain or inability to perform routine functions. Special damages refer to compensation given for specific costs you have incurred, such as medical fees and wages lost. In order to receive maximum compensation for special damages, you should keep copies of all medical receipts, as well as the time you’ve been incapacitated from work and the wages you’ve lost as a result.
Paying for Legal Representation
Of course, one of the major concerns about filing a clinical negligence compensation case is how to fund it. Very few people have the financial resources to fund their legal representation out of pocket while they develop the case and await its verdict. Unfortunately, the new Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Act (Laspo) has removed legal aid for medical negligence from the scope of government funding, meaning that as of next year, it may become more difficult for poor or underprivileged UK citizens to get the monetary support they need to make a claim. One alternative funding option that will remain available is a conditional fee agreement, which means your solicitor will not charge any fees unless the claim settles in your favour. You may have legal expense insurance on one of your insurance policies that will help you fund legal representation as well. Review these options before you put up any of your own money to pursue a claim.
Does anyone have any experience of claims?