Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional or organisation providing health care has not provided the appropriate care to that patient, resulting in an injury or in making an existing condition worse.
If you have been harmed due to medical negligence this can, in some circumstances, have life-changing consequences and you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries.
Here, Victoria Gofton, leading clinical negligence solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors explains what you need to consider when choosing a medical negligence solicitor.
What actions can be taken?
If you or a family member have been injured following medical treatment, it is important to know what your options are. This can be an extremely sensitive time; it’s understandable that you may want to obtain an explanation or an apology, or even disciplinary action to be undertaken, or you may already know you would like to be compensated for your injury and any losses you have suffered. The NHS constitution gives you the right to make a complaint and request a full investigation to be completed and if this is sustained, an apology should be made or a change in practise may be instigated as a result.
A lawyer may be able to help you with this, but you may wish to make the complaint yourself and only when you receive the response, decide if you would like to investigate whether negligence has occurred. It is important to know that not all injuries occur as a result of someone’s negligence, but a good lawyer will help you investigate this and give you honest advice about whether you may be able to succeed in a bringing a claim. By its nature, a medical negligence claim is focussed on securing compensation for the harm that has been done and is unlikely to be able to secure any other remedy for you.
Do your research
Knowing where to start when choosing a medical negligence lawyer can be daunting. There are lots to choose from and ensuring that you pick a solicitor who will give you straight forward advice about your case can leave you wondering where to look first. It’s important not to make any rash decisions and instead take your time to carefully consider who you will appoint.
Carrying out your own independent research is advisable as there are many different specialists within medical negligence law. Searching the internet and narrowing down your options based on their specialisms and reviews is a good starting point. When it comes to medical negligence claims, you should always choose a reputable law firm for your case.
“Be sure to choose a firm that understands the law around the particular area of medical negligence that relates to your case. Firms experienced in GP negligence, for example, might be less familiar with rarer forms of negligence cases such as birth injuries” says John McCarthy at the medical negligence firm McCarthy & Co.
Consider your criteria
It’s important to consider the criteria that is important to you and narrow your choices based on multiple factors. For example, does the solicitor have an established reputation and a proven track record in similar litigated cases.
Recommendations are also a good way to begin looking into what it is like to work with a particular solicitor, however, although a good starting point, it’s important that your specific case comes within that solicitor’s experience.
Choosing the right solicitor
You may also want to consider whether the solicitor is a member of any specialist panels or professional groups which may help to indicate their experience. In order to represent you successfully, extensive knowledge across all key areas such as court rules, conventions and case law is essential. Your lawyer should have hands on experience, up to date resources, a range of medical experts to hand and are willing to share testimonials of clients they have helped in the past.
Finally, you should speak to them. Your chosen lawyer should make you feel comfortable, listen to you and provide clear explanations as to what is happening throughout each stage of the claim. You will be working closely with your solicitor for a long time and so it is important you can speak freely and openly with them and that you trust their advice. It is also important that you don’t feel pressurised by your lawyer and that they show consideration and empathy towards you in order to build a positive relationship as they work on helping you win the case.
There is a lot to be considered when choosing a medical negligence lawyer, especially when you are having to readjust to your new way of life post-injury. A lawyer should make the procedure simple, straightforward and provide you with support to ensure the experience is as stress-free as possible in order to help you bring your case to a successful conclusion, at what is already a difficult time in your life.