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What happens when you enquire about making a clinical negligence claim?

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    It is often believed that lawyers are intimidating and this puts people off contacting them – we hope, when contacting the Clinical Negligence Team, that the opposite is true. This blog sets out what you can expect if you want to contact us to make an enquiry about a possible clinical negligence claim or dental negligence claim.

    By Rhiannon Wilson

What can you expect when you first contact us?

Part of my job role is to act as the first point of call for new enquiries, which are usually by telephone, and we will always aim to speak to you at a time convenient to you. I will introduce myself and provide you with a clear and concise summary as to how your enquiry will be dealt with, and also provide you with my contact details so you are able to contact me if there is any further information you would like to provide or any questions which you wish to ask after our initial call.

I will initially need to take some personal details from you in order to assess your enquiry appropriately, these include your full name, date of birth and whether the enquiry is in relation to yourself or you are making it on behalf of someone else.

Starting at the beginning – a very good place to start

I will probably need about 20 minutes of your time for our first call and will then ask you to explain in your own words and in your own time what has happened, why you feel there has been negligence in your medical or dental care and how you have suffered as a result. I will then likely ask you some specific questions just to ensure I have all of the information I need to advise you further.

Important information to provide us with:

There is a three year limitation period in which to bring a clinical negligence claim and we therefore need to know the date or dates when the relevant treatment took place, or as accurate a date as is possible, to ensure you are still able to potentially bring a claim.

The 3 year period runs either from the date of the alleged negligence or from the date of knowledge.  The date of knowledge is when the Claimant could first reasonably have been expected to have known that the injury was rather significant and attributable to the identified negligence.  There are exceptions to the limitation rule.  Time does not begin to run against those under the age of 18, until they attain the age of 18, so if the potential claim is for a child then they will have until their 21st birthday to commence proceedings.  Where a death has occurred, time generally runs from the date of death rather than the date of negligence.  Please see our previous blog for further information.  I do recommend seeking advice about making a claim at the earliest opportunity to ensure that a claim is not out of time.

I will also need to know where the relevant treatment took place, i.e. the name of the hospital where you were treated, the GP who treated you at the details of the practice, or the name of the dentist/dental surgery.

As well as this it is also helpful to know any specific allegations you have and the effect the injury has had on your life, such as needing time off work or further treatment and where this took place.

I will then advise you if we are able to assist you further with making a claim.

All of this initial work is carried out without charge to you and with no obligation.

Funding options

If we are able to assist you further with making a claim I will then discuss with you in detail the various funding options available to you to find the best option for you, and we will consider:

Legal Expenses Insurance – The first funding method we would explore would be legal expenses insurance.    Any legal expenses cover will be contained within an existing insurance policy, and could provide indemnity against the cost of pursuing a claim. Many people have this without realising it.  If you are unsure as to whether you are eligible for Legal Expenses cover, we would be happy to review your insurance policies for you.

Legal Aid – this is available in clinical negligence cases where a child has suffered a brain injury at or around the time of birth resulting in severe disability.

Conditional Fee Agreement – If Legal Expenses Insurance and/or Legal Aid are not available, or are not suitable for funding your claim, we will then consider a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA or No-Win-No-Fee Agreement) for you and I will explain this to you.

Once funding is secured for your claim we will then be in a position to start investigating your claim and will explain to you what the next steps will entail.  At all times you should feel free to ask any questions that you have.

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