If you are considering making a claim for medical negligence you will need to know about the litigation procedure of bringing your case to court. WINWales are a specialist solicitors who can advice you on your own case. Here we look at the process of making a generic medical negligence claim.
Taking Legal Proceedings
If you think you have a strong case for medical negligence, your first step should be to contact a solicitor with experience in this area of law. They will evaluate your records and medical reports and determine whether or not you have a good chance of success. Once they are satisfied that your claim is sound, they will embark upon the process of gathering evidence and expert witnesses to support your case.
Will My Case Go To Court?
Although it is important to treat every medical negligence claim as if it was going to end in a court case, the chances of that happening are actually quite slim. The majority of cases of this type are settled and the claimant receives compensation without having to go to trial. This happens in up to 98% of cases.
What Is The Legal Procedure Followed When Making A Medical Negligence Claim?
UK Court Rules state that a strict code of conduct must be followed when launching a claim in order to allow both parties to obtain a clear understanding of the other's case and to allow plenty of opportunities to resolve the issues.
The first step is for your solicitor to send a letter to the defendant outlining the claim and requesting your medical records. These records are then assessed by an expert and once it has been decided to go ahead with the case, a letter of claim will be sent to the defendant summarising the case and describing the injuries and financial losses. The defendant must then respond within 4 months, either denying the entire claim, admitting to some parts of the claim or making a settlement offer. In the case of any financial offer, your solicitor will evaluate whether the amount on the table is acceptable in light of your situation.
Should an agreement fail to be reached, formal legal proceedings will be launched and your solicitor will forward all evidence together with a claim to the court while the defendant also files their case. Upon receipt of this information the court will assign the case to a "track" and your case will be heard at either the County Court or the High Court, however the timescale can be up to 2 years, during which time both legal teams will exchange witness statements and try to reach an agreement in order to avoid court proceedings.
Going To Court
If no agreement is reached during this period, the case goes to court. The case will be opened with your barrister outlining your legal case and then by calling witnesses on your behalf, usually with the claimant as the first witness. Once you have answered your own barrister's questions about your experiences, you must then respond to the defence barrister's questions. Finally, both sides will summarise their client's case and the judge will make their verdict. The judge may take several months to contact both sides and to inform them of their decision in writing. This judgement will either be for or against negligence and if the case is found in the claimant's favour, compensation will be awarded depending on the injury suffered and the financial losses incurred.
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