Clinical negligence claims often take longer and are more complicated than most other types of personal injury claims, which means they’re usually more expensive.
This is mainly because of the number of medical experts who your solicitor might have to employ to give the evidence needed to build your case.
For a successful clinical negligence claim, your solicitor will need to prove that the treatment you received fell below a certain standard, and that your injury was caused by poor treatment instead of an underlying condition.
Once your solicitor has proved that you received sub-standard care, they’ll then go on to negotiate the amount of compensation needed to cover the effect of your injury on your life and finances.
Although the majority of clinical negligence cases never go to court, it can take a long time for your compensation claim to be completed because of the number of factors and people involved.
A specialist clinical negligence solicitor will always tell you how much your claim might cost to launch, how much of those costs can eventually be recovered and what the financing options are so you can afford your claim.
Following the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 the only clinical negligence cases which legal aid can be claimed for are those in which a child suffers neurological injury causing severe disability during pregnancy, childbirth or the first 8 weeks of the post-natal period.
You might already have the insurance needed to cover the costs of your legal expenses. Some home and contents cover, or bank accounts and credit cards, come with this insurance as an added extra.
You can get your clinical negligence solicitor to look over the details of the policy – they’ll be able to let you know whether it covers all the funding you’re likely to need.
They can also talk with your insurance company for you, rather than leaving you to pin down every detail of the small print.
The majority of clinical negligence claims are funded via a conditional fee arrangement (CFA), also known as ‘no win no fee’.
No win no fee means you don’t have to pay your solicitor’s fee if your claim is unsuccessful. It also has several other advantages:
Following recent changes in the law, the ‘success fee’ paid to your solicitor will be taken from any compensation you receive (up to a maximum of 25%) instead of it being claimed from the other side, as was previously the case.
One of the main advantages of a CFA, especially in cases as complex as clinical negligence claims, is that it means a solicitor is only likely to take on your case if they think there’s a very good chance of you winning.
A specialist medical negligence solicitor (who will only get paid if you win your case) – will only enter into a CFA if they think you have more than a 60% chance of success.
If you can’t make your claim on a no win no fee basis, you might decide to fund your claim yourself – but we’d advise against it. A high chance of failure, together with the high costs of fighting a complicated case, could be financially dangerous.
Expenses you would have to cover yourself would include the hourly rates charged by your solicitor, a barrister and expert witnesses, as well as the potential costs if you lose the case.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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If you win your case, your solicitor's success fee will be taken from the compensation you are awarded - up to a maximum of 25%. Your solicitor will discuss any fees before starting your case.