Falling victim to medical negligence or malpractice can be a terrible experience, especially if the incident has caused significant hardship, loss, or a reduction in your quality of life. Of course, it’s completely understandable that you’d want to seek compensation for the negligent actions of a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional whose actions have caused you harm.
Oftentimes, patients experience the consequences of medical negligence in the form of three different kinds of suffering – emotions, finances, and health. If any of those aspects of your life have been affected due to a medical provider’s failure to properly do their job, then you’re probably already in the process of researching the steps required to bring your claim to court in pursuit of the compensation you deserve.
During the past decade, the number of medical negligence claims UK has essentially tripled, rising from about £580 million in 2008 to more than £1.4 billion in 2016. The recent surge in claims has coincided with heightened healthcare demands, not only because of an increasingly expanding and ageing population, but also due to an increased awareness of medical negligence laws and a larger supply of medical negligence lawyers, many of whom are willing to take cases “pro bono” – without any upfront cost. If you’re on the verge of filing a medical negligence claim in the UK, consider the following seven tips before getting started:
1. Consult with Medical Negligence Lawyers
Although you may be tempted to go it alone and do all the research and preparation independently, you may want to at least start by speaking to a professional to see if your case actually has merit before proceeding. Many leading firms like The Medical Negligence Experts offer free consultations that will help you determine whether you stand a good chance of winning in court, and in this case, they provide people with an online guide to medical claims.
From there, you can decide whether you want to represent yourself or seek the assistance of a professional firm, but the latter typically results in the highest chance of not only winning but also obtaining maximum compensation amounts.
2. Gather All Relevant Information
Now that you’ve passed the initial step of determining how valid your case really is, and you’re aware of the basics steps that will be involved in going forward, it’s time to start gathering any documented proof or other evidence that will support your claims.
Keeping all of your medical records in a safe location as soon as you receive them is the best approach, but even if you’ve misplaced some papers or can’t remember dates, you should be able to obtain a copy of your full medical record from the provider, and it is their legal obligation to provide such records upon your request. Since the kind of information needed will vary greatly depending on the medical condition on other circumstantial factors, it’s best to ask what evidence will be needed when participating in a free consultation, as recommended in the previous tip.
3. Carefully Study Medical Negligence Laws
Even if you plan on enlisting the assistance of an attorney, it’s still a good idea to become familiar with any applicable medical negligence laws. Being knowledgeable about medical negligence laws will help you better aid your lawyer in building a strong case. Thus, studying UK medical malpractice law may be something that you want to do during your spare time. Being that it will probably take several weeks for your case to go to court, you should have plenty of time to brush up on your legal knowledge before the court date.
4. Select a Competent and Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Now that you’re familiar with the law, have already consulted with an experienced medical malpractice firm, and are equipped with all the evidence needed to support your case, your next best move would be to partner with a medical malpractice attorney to bring the case to court. Although it is possible to represent yourself, doing so would put you at a significant disadvantage in a court of law, particularly if you have no legal experience. Utilising the proven services of a lawyer that specialises in these matters is an effective way to increase your chances of receiving maximum compensation. The cost of legal fees should not be a concern because many firms will only charge a fee if they’re able to secure a win in court.
5. Develop an Evidence-Based Case Strategy
Simply having the evidence in hand is only the first step in actually presenting it in a way that will persuade the judge that your claims are valid. Experienced medical negligence solicitors will confront this challenge by headlining the case with indisputable facts that can be supported by the evidence you’ve gathered. After those aspects have been adequately covered, then the lawyers would typically start discussing the secondary negative effects that the patient suffered due to the medical negligence. However, the case should always be led and backed by as much tangible evidence as possible, including medical imaging records, expert testimonies, and any other factual pillars that can bolster your claims.
6. File the Claim as Quickly as Possible
In the UK, you have up to three years to file a medical negligence claim, and that usually gives people enough time to truly experience the negative effects of the malpractice and then react accordingly. However, it should be noted that claims failed within one year are typically the most likely to win an in-court judgement.
For this reason, it’s best to take legal action as soon as you’re aware that medical negligence has been committed. Furthermore, securing a settlement faster ensures that you’ll have the funds needed to cover any medical or living expenses that have arisen or gone unpaid due to your condition, which can save you from credit problems and other financial woes.
7. Don’t Settle for Out-of-Court Settlements
Finally, if you have a really good case that’s probably going to win, many medical providers will attempt to offer you an out-of-court settlement. Although the prospect of immediate compensation can be tempting, keep in mind that you stand to gain much more by bringing the case to court.
The defendant knows that they’ll be paying more in legal fees and will be ordered to pay a larger settlement if the case goes to court, so they often try to mitigate their losses by offering a smaller amount if you’ll agree to settle out of court. If a legal professional believes you have a promising case, it would be much better to take it to court for a larger settlement.
Taking the Right Steps to Obtain Rightful Compensation
In closing, filing a medical negligence UK claim can seem like an intimidating challenge, but once you have the right help in your corner, it’s actually a very simple process. As long as you follow the tips above, use the best medical negligence solicitors, and base your case on the evidence, you should have no problem receiving a settlement sufficient to compensate for all of your financial and emotional hardships. While you still may have to address healing and recovery to correct the that the negligence had on your health, at least you won’t have other problems compounding the stress.