There have been a lot of stories in the news recently relating to medical negligence claims and these days it seems people are more likely to speak up if being mistreated. This week we want to look at what defines medical negligence and the steps that should be taken if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself a victim.
What is it?
Medical negligence constitutes any malpractice by act or omission carried out by any medical practitioner whether they be doctor, dentist or otherwise.
The most common claims we see in this area would relate to:
- lack of consent
- child birth
- cosmetic surgery
- a failure to diagnose /refer for specialist treatment
- post operative management
- contraction of MRSA or other infection whilst in hospital care
- dental / orthodontic treatment.
Where we come in
Once we have taken a detailed statement and obtained the relevant medical notes and records we will discuss with you the legal issues that arise and the prospects of successfully pursuing a claim. If we believe a claim is worth pursuing, the next step is the engagement of a specialist medical professional experienced in the field relevant to your particular claim and in giving evidence to a Court. The specialist’s job is to provide an opinion as to whether the treatment or advice received fell below the standards expected. It is mostly the case that the specialist will not be from Northern Ireland to ensure complete objectivity.
Other reports may be necessary if there is more than one medical discipline involved, and/or if the calculation of the financial losses you have sustained are complicated and/or if there are issues relating to ongoing care.
Medical negligence cases are often complicated. That means they can become expensive and drawn out, particularly if the claim is being contested. Those preparing reports have to be paid as do solicitors and barristers. Despite the regular review of cases in which it has been necessary to commence Court proceedings, by a Judge who is intent on moving matters forward as efficiently as possible towards hearing dates, claims can take as long as 3 years to be determined.
The longer a case takes, the more expensive it tends to be. That is why we prioritise the assessment of funding options at the outset. We are one of very few firms in Northern Ireland with substantial experience in obtaining ATE insurance for clients who would otherwise be unable to fund what may be a perfectly good case.
Cost is often the single biggest deterrent to the making of a claim. We offer more than most solicitors when it comes to funding solutions.