Healthcare in the UK is generally of a very high standard, however, mistakes can happen. These errors in medical judgement are perhaps never more serious then when they result in an injury to the head or brain.
Often the victim will have suffered injury and financial losses as a direct result and this is when it is important to get in touch with a medical negligence solicitor and, in particular, one that specialises in head or brain injuries.
Can I make a claim?
A mistake in itself does not always amount to clinical negligence. The patient, with the help of the specialist solicitor will need to prove that the practitioner has been negligent by showing that the standard of care fell below what reasonably could have been expected. This is done by looking at what a suitability qualified practitioner in the same area would have also done.
If breach of the standard of care can be shown then the second test is to show that the negligence caused the injury. We would start by looking at medical records but an opinion from a medical expert would be required on this point.
Who to claim against
Many people are unsure who to claim against. A claim can be made against hospital trusts, specific doctors, NHS or private institutions. Your Solicitor can investigate and confirm the correct Defendant.
In most cases, the time limit to bring a claim is three years from the date of knowledge. This could be when the negligence occurs or later when the injury becomes apparent.
You may be unsure of when this started and this is the time limit for issuing the claim not for speaking to a solicitor, so it is best to contact as soon as you feel able to.
Once you have decided on your lawyer and agreed how to fund your solicitor can start investigating your claim.
Medical records will be obtained and a chronology produced. At this stage if necessary advice from a Medical Expert or Counsel will be sought to confirm if there is a claim.
A formal letter of claim will be sent to the Defendant who then has four months to respond.
If liability is accepted, then with evidence a settlement can be negotiated. If liability remains in dispute or the value of the claim cannot be agreed then court proceedings will need to be issued. Each case is different and your Solicitor will be on hand to guide you through the process from start to finish.
There are two types of losses, General Damages for your injuries and Special Damages for your financial losses. Medical evidence will be required and your Solicitor will need to discuss the losses in detail with you.