Understanding hospital negligence and how to put forward a claim is incredibly important, especially for those who have experienced hospital negligence or for those who are claiming on someone’s behalf.
While we have already created a blog explaining exactly what clinical negligence is, this blog will be for the purpose of explaining the claiming process in more detail, so you know exactly what it is you need to do.
The process for hospital negligence claims
While each claim can differ from person to person, here is an idea of what to expect from your claim and the process you should aim to adhere to.
If you are not happy with the care you received or you have questions regarding your treatment, it is a good idea to start with a formal letter of complaint to the executive chief director at the facility in which you received treatment.
When done properly, this letter triggers various protocols and rules, which means the hospital must conduct a formal and proper investigation into the complaint. They must also give a formal written response.
Due to the Duty of Candour that is imposed on the trust, the hospital must inform the patient if any evidence has been uncovered that reveals poor care has been administered or that there has been any wrongdoing
Having a letter of response containing such information can help hospital negligence solicitors to narrow down the issues and ensure the following investigations are targeted and effective.
Once this initial stage has been completed, a step by step medical negligence claim process begins as follows:
Instruction from client
We will listen to the specific instructions from the client, including hearing the evidence, to then make an initial assessment on the case to decide the best route.
If not already done so, the client and the solicitor must work together to obtain any medical records belonging to the patient. These are considered crucial for understanding and strengthening the alleged negligence claims.
Health Insurance enquiries
Next, we can begin to make enquiries to the victim’s insurance companies. Some insurance policies such as house insurance policies contain legal expenses that can be used to cover the costs associated with a hospital negligence claim.
After The Event insurance is an insurance policy that can be purchased after an incident has occurred, and this can also be used to cover the costs that must be paid by the Claimant in the case of a lost or abandoned case.
Review medical records
Next, a medical professional must review the medical records of the Claimant and give a professional opinion on what happened and whether the care provided was correct or not. If deemed incorrect, the medical expert should advise on what ought to have happened instead.
Using their expertise, the medical professional should also advise on how the outcome to the patient would be different, and better, if the treatment had gone as it should have done. Depending on the nature of the claim, more than one type of medical expert may be required.
Supporting medical evidence
A formal letter of claim, containing chronology of what happened, and allegations of negligence, should be sent to the Trust. This should also contain information on the impact of the breach of duty. Once this has been compiled and sent to the Trust, they will have four months to fully investigate the allegations.
At the end of the four-month period, the Trust must write back with a formal letter of response either accepting or denying fault.
Admission of liability
If the Trust admits liability and causation, the client will win their claim and negotiations regarding compensation for hospital negligence will begin.
Your dedicated solicitor will work hard to ensure the fair amount of compensation for your particular case is achieved.
Denial of liability
If the Trust denies negligence, a solicitor will assess the defence to determine whether it has any merit. Should the defence pose a valid argument against the claims, a solicitor will advise the Claimant to abandon their claim.
However, if there is evidence that will refute the defence, a solicitor will begin negotiations with the other side to narrow down the issues between the two parties and, hopefully, achieve the admission of liability that is needed for a successful claim.
If the negotiations are not fruitful, Court proceedings will be issued. In this instance, the Court takes the role of an independent third party by listening to both accounts and deciding on whose evidence they prefer.
It’s important to remember while we can put together a rough idea of what a hospital negligence claim may look like, it is never a step by step process that is followed blindly – we offer an entirely bespoke approach where we assess every case individually and do what is right by an individual depending on their unique circumstances.
Has Covid had an increase on hospital negligence claims?
While there has not been a direct increase in hospital negligence claims as a result of Covid-19, we expect to see an influx of enquiries once delayed medical procedures can be resumed.
If treatment has been delayed as a result of the pandemic, during the time where everyone was under ‘stay at home’ orders, then this is unlikely give rise to grounds for a medical negligence claim.
What is the lead time for a hospital negligence claim?
It can be difficult to pinpoint an exact timeline for a hospital negligence claim as each claim is unique, however, we can provide a broad idea of what you might expect.
For example, typically, the first six months of the claim includes acquiring all medical records and reports to support the initial claim.
Once the Letter of Claim has been submitted to the Trust, there is a four month investigative period where you can expect things to be somewhat quiet.
The lifecycle of the claim from here on out depends on the response from the other side. For example, if they admit liability, the case may be resolved within one year. However, if they deny, it can lengthen the process. It is not unusual for claims of this nature to last two-three years, and sometimes longer.
Do you need Legal assistance with a hospital negligence claim?
Filing a hospital negligence claim can be a lengthy and overwhelming process that can be difficult to navigate on your own.
Luckily, Smith Partnership has a dedicated team of medical negligence solicitors to assist you with your claim, ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible and the optimal outcome is achieved. Please get in touch with the team to find out more.