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As in all civil cases evidence is the key to obtaining a successful outcome. Ordinarily one starts with the lay evidence usually through instructions and perhaps letters or documents obtained through any complaints procedure with the hospital or medical institution if this process has been engaged. The second part is to obtain medical evidence. This initially comes from the relevant medical records. At Fieldings Porter our policy is to see and review the relevant medical records about the client or person who received treatment. These will often be all the relevant medical records in order to complete the picture of the care or lack of which was received. Initially we will take your instructions to be able to draft a form to request the medical institution against whom you believe there has been a breach of their duty of care and/or negligence to provide these records to us, free of charge. This is the first stage of the Clinical Negligence Disputes Protocol.
On receipt of the records we will review them and do not charge for our time spent in reviewing the records.
We will provide a summary of the records highlighting the important entries within a letter to you and giving advice as to your options. Broadly if we believe you have reasonable prospects of success, you have two options. One is to instruct us to write a letter of claim without a medical report, setting out the breach of duty of care and/or negligence in respect of the treatment which was received and invite the other institution or individual (usually through their insurer) to admit liability. They have four months from date of receipt of the letter within which either to admit liability or deny, giving reasons. This is most commonly the option chosen when you have a strong case and an admission of liability has already been hinted at, perhaps through the complaints process or on our review we believe the prospects of success are good. Before writing the letter we will have completed an internal risk assessment and enter into a Conditional Fee Agreement with you. This is similar to a no win no fee type agreement. Further specific details will be given to you but broadly if, later, you are not successful with your case you do not pay any of our solicitor fees. You may be liable for disbursements or specific fees such as medical expert fees and court fees. If you are successful we will seek recovery of your costs including solicitor fees from the party paying the compensation in addition. However you are liable to pay the success fee on the costs we had incurred in your case but which is capped at 25% of your compensation. Therefore you will never receive less than 75% of the value of your compensation.
On occasions we may write a letter setting out the claim inviting an admission of liability without engaging the Protocol. This may happen where there has been an apology from PALS or a Divisional Review report accepts sub-standard care or where an inquest has been held which makes it clear there has been negligence. This way a swifter response than 4 months is usually received and can expedite the outcome.
The second option is to obtain an independent medical report to ascertain whether a breach of duty of care and/or negligence has, objectively, taken place. This may be required if it is not clear or sufficiently supportive following the review of the relevant records solely to pursue the case at this stage without an independent report. To obtain the report we will enter into the Conditional Fee Agreement as explained above and also obtain two insurance policies; one to cover the cost of any medical report(s) and the second to protect you against the risk of costs if later you fail to beat the opponent's financial offer, often referred to as a Part 36 offer. You will not be required to pay any premium up front as we will obtain funding to cover those costs. On receipt of the medical report if supportive, we will write the letter of claim as part of the next stage of the Clinical Negligence Disputes Protocol or take any other steps to benefit the case such as obtaining an opinion from an experienced barrister.
Sadly in many ways we are seeing an increase in instructions where mistakes have been made by general practitioners for many and different reasons. They are under great pressures from the government, financially and from the increase in attendances upon them at their surgeries. This can lead to:
One or more of these points could lead to establishing a case for a breach of duty of care. We will review the notes as set out in the sections above and advise you on your prospects of success thereafter.
While the title of this article may be correct and we broadly agree with the facts as outlined - https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31119-X/fulltext, here at Fieldings Porter we will do all that we can to assist you in your personal injury or clinical negligence claim at a time which is very often difficult and we will provide a high quality and empathetic service as you trust us with your case.
For further information and to speak to someone straightaway who is legally qualified, please do contact us now by telephone on 01204 540900.
Call 01204 540900 and speak to a legally qualified member of our team who can deal with your enquiry straight away.
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