What is Clinical Negligence

What is Clinical Negligence

We are pleased to welcome Rachel Pearce, Partner and Head of Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence at Coodes Solicitors, to discuss her expertise and the pivotal role she plays at one of the Southwest's most respected law firms. Coodes Solicitors, renowned for its exceptional legal services, has earned recognition in both the Legal 500 and UK Chambers and Partners guides, serving clients throughout Cornwall and Devon with a network of eight offices.

Coodes Solicitors is one the Southwest’s longest-established and leading law firms in Cornwall and Devon. The firm has built a well-deserved reputation for providing individuals and businesses with exceptional legal services and is recognised in both the Legal 500 and UK Chambers and Partners guides. Rooted in the communities of the Southwest, Coodes serves the community from their extensive branch network of eight offices.

The clinical negligence team, led by Business Owner and Partner Rachel Pearce, have over 40 years of experience in supporting individuals and families. They have significant expertise in a wide range of clinical negligence claims, including birth injuries, catastrophic neurological injuries and amputations. The team fights for and achieves justice for clients while helping secure early rehabilitation and compensation to rebuild their lives.

What is clinical negligence? 

Clinical or medical negligence is the failure of a medical professional or organisation to deliver the standard of care expected of them, either through carelessness, a mistake or a series of mistakes. Medical professionals, by virtue of their training, the trust we put in them and their expertise, owe all patients a duty of care. When the care falls below a reasonable standard and directly causes an injury or an existing condition to worsen, this can have serious and sometimes life-changing consequences for you and your family.

Given the range of medical specialisms and treatments, clinical negligence can apply to a wide range of issues but broadly, it covers misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes or, poor practice and poor or inadequate treatment.  

What is the process in pursuing a clinical negligence claim? 

To make a claim, first contact our specialist medical negligence solicitors. We offer a free initial consultation to chat about what happened, discuss if you have a legal claim and advise on funding options. If we take your claim on, our experts will look into your case in detail, gather evidence and evaluate whether the care you received amounted to medical negligence.

If your independent medical experts agree that your treatment was negligent, we will set out your case to those responsible to see if they accept liability. If they do, we will try to secure compensation for you in the interim, which can fund private medical care and ongoing expenses, before your claim fully settles.

We always try to negotiate settlements out of court, but if your opponent does not accept responsibility or agree with the compensation amount, we will start court proceedings on your behalf. It is rare for a medical negligence claim to reach a trial, but if it does, we will be there to help you every step of the way. 


What do lawyers need to prove in a clinical negligence claim?

Medical professionals – whether within the NHS or private sector – have a duty of care to act in accordance with acceptable standards and to do no harm. To make a successful claim, we must demonstrate you more likely than not suffered an injury or illness or that your condition worsened due to a breach of duty of care.

We also have to establish that the negligent medical treatment caused or contributed to your injury. There can be many wide-reaching consequences and the impact of a medical mistake doesn’t just rest with immediate worsening of the condition. Depending on the severity, there may be financial implications if you are unable to work or emotional distress and the development of mental health complications.

How serious does an injury have to be to pursue a clinical negligence claim?

The seriousness of the injury is a crucial factor, but it’s not the only consideration. Even relatively minor injuries can lead to a successful clinical negligence claim if other elements are present. The key elements include:

  1.     Duty of care: The healthcare professional must owe a duty of care to the patient.
  2.     Breach of duty: It must be demonstrated that the healthcare professional breached the standard of care expected in their field.
  3.     Causation: There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the injury suffered. It must be shown that the negligent actions directly caused harm.
  4.     Damages: There must be quantifiable damages or harm suffered as a result of the breach of duty. This can include physical injury, emotional distress, additional medical expenses, loss of income, or other related losses. 

How long do I have to make a clinical negligence claim?

You should seek legal advice quickly because there are strict timetables for proceeding with legal action. Generally, you have three years to bring a compensation claim, starting from the date of your injury, or the date you first became aware that your injury was a result of negligence. If you suffered an injury as a child, this three-year period begins on your eighteenth birthday, though you can bring the claim at any point prior to this via a Litigation Friend. If a person has died due to negligent care or treatment, then the three-year limitation date starts from the date of death. There are some exceptions to this rule in cases when the injured person lacks capacity. 

Does it cost anything to make a claim? What happens if I lose? 

There are several funding options for these types of claims, which could mean your costs are covered. This could be legal expenses insurance (which is often included in home insurance policies), a trade union policy or Legal Aid.

The majority of our cases are funded with a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that there’s no financial risk to you when making a claim, as you only have to contribute towards your legal costs on successful conclusion. Coodes also has a Legal Aid contract, one of a small number of firms able to offer this funding. We will advise whether you are eligible for this and take the relevant steps to secure this funding.

If your claim is unsuccessful then you will not be charged for your legal costs, but you will be responsible for any disbursements, although these costs are usually covered by insurance. 

How much compensation could I get for a clinical negligence claim and how long does the process take? 

Every clinical negligence claim is different, which is why it’s important to instruct qualified specialist lawyers. The amount you can claim will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury, any financial losses you have suffered or will suffer, and any changes to your lifestyle that you’ve made as a result.

The timeframe will depend upon the issues and complexity of the case. The timeframe can also be affected by the opponent’s attitude towards settlement. A ‘straightforward’ claim where liability is admitted early on and there are no long-term health implications may take 2-3 years to conclude, however a complex birth injury claim can take many years.

Of course, financial awards can’t fully compensate you or your loved ones but can help you make any necessary adjustments to your lifestyle, help get your life back on track or provide vital support if you have lost the capacity to work. 

What type of negligence claims do you work with? 

Coodes specialist and accredited Clinical Negligence team advise clients from all walks of life on a wide range of medical negligence issues. We have helped and supported thousands of clients and their families secure compensation for the consequences of medical negligence and substandard care. We specialise in areas such as birth injuries, brain injuries cancer misdiagnosis claims, orthopaedic injuries, obstetrics and gynaecology, surgical errors, delays in diagnosis and treatment, and failures by mental health services resulting in serious injury and sometimes death.

If you aren’t sure if your type of negligence claim is covered, get in touch with our team at clinical@coodes.co.uk or on 01326 318900.


Published by: www.lawyer-monthly.com


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