Medical Negligence FAQ’s

How long will it take for my claim to settle?

At Birchall Blackburn law we have a bespoke case management system for dealing with your clinical negligence claim. If your case is of modest value and against just one defendant then we will place this in our express case management track. This express track aims to try and resolve your claim within 12 months.

The majority of clinical negligence claims however do take longer than 12 months. Using our bespoke case management system, we will ensure that your claim is dealt with in a structured and proactive way. We will aim to deal with your claim as quickly as possible.

If I bring a claim what will happen to the doctor or consultant that treated me?

In a clinical negligence claim, the litigation runs entirely separately from any other action taken internally by the hospital or GP surgery.

In modest or less serious cases, no action will be taken internally against the doctor. If the injury caused to you is sever or significant then the GP surgery or hospital may launch an investigation against the medical practitioner.

In almost all cases, it is our aim to get the organisation to consider its systems to ensure the alleged negligence does not happen again.

Will a complaint or claim affect my treatment?

Whatever action is taken against the treating doctor, this will not affect your right to treatment or the way you are treated by the hospital or your GP.

Does the hospital have to apologise to me?

In short, the answer is no, but we understand that for many clients, it is the apology that is important rather than the compensation. We aim to obtain letters of apology wherever we can.

We understand that the aim of a clinical negligence claim is often about an apology and treatment, rather than just money compensation.

I still need treatment. Do I need this on the NHS or can I have it privately? If so, will I have to pay?

If the defendant admits negligence, you do not have to continue your treatment on the NHS and we can request that the Defendants pay for private treatment. This will be included in your claim for damages but we will ask the defendants to pay this in advance so that there is no cost to you.

I’m worried that the doctor will be dismissed?

Just because you bring a claim does not mean that a doctor will be dismissed. Once notified of a claim, the matter will be handled by with the NHSLA, or other organisations like the Dental Defence union. In most cases, no action will be taken against the doctor, consultant or dentist. It is only in cases of sever injury that action may be taken further by the treating medics professional body. You will not be involved in that process.

Do I need to attend a different hospital, now I have started a claim?

Put simply, no. If you remain content with the service you are currently getting, there is no need to change.

Will I need a medical examination when I start my claim?

No. More often than not, we will get a short report, called a screening report. This is usually completed by reviewing your medical notes and records.

Will I need to pay any money upfront?

In most cases, NO.

Are there any hidden charges in my claim?

No. Before we start your claim we will explain everything to you and answer any questions you have. We believe in being transparent with our clients and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

When you obtain my medical records will they be disclosed to anyone without my consent?

No.

Will I need to go to court and stand in front of a judge?

Most successful clinical negligence claims settle without the need for you to attend trial. Occassionally, cases need to be decided by a Judge. This is rare in clinical negligence cases. In the unlikely event that you are required to attend trial, we will give you plenty of notice and ensure that we talk you through the process. We will accompany you to any hearing, together with a barrister.

Will a doctor know I have brought a claim?

If the claim is against a hospital the letter will be written to the Chief executive of the hospital.

If the claim is brought against a GP, it will be written to the GP at the surgery.

In all cases, organisations handle these complaints sensitively and in confidence.

Will there be a lot of paperwork to fill in during my claim?

No. Once you have signed the paperwork authorising us to deal with your case, we will handle everything for you and ensure that you are kept informed every step of the way.

Will you be able to see me at home?

If you reside in the north west region, we can arrange an initial home visit. We have 9 offices throughout the north west and we can also arrange a meeting at your nearest Birchall Blackburn Law office.

In cases of severe injury we will arrange to see you at home or hospital, no matter where in the country you are.

We also have Skype facilities to allow a more personal face to face meeting, where a home visit is not possible.

I lost my leg as a result of negligent treatment, what can I claim for?

When medical accidents lead to amputation, awards of damages can be substantial. At Birchall Blackburn Law, we have the skills and experience to do the best for you. Awards of compensation can make life a lot easier, enabling you to:

  • Obtain help and equipment for the home
  • Buy a more suitable car and good-quality wheelchair
  • Adapt their homes or arrange more suitable accommodation
  • Have better-quality prosthetic limbs than are available on the NHS

I was awake during my operation but the doctors deny it, I’m having nightmares, can I claim? How do I prove it?

Finding yourself still awake during an operation can be frightening and traumatic. Although it is very rare, patients can not only suffer pain but also feel helpless. Patients we know this has happened to have suffered serious psychological damage, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which for some has had a devastating effect on their lives. In many cases we can obtain the evidence that would enable a successful claim in damages.

I had cosmetic surgery at a Beauticians, for thread vein removal. The laser burn’t me terribly and I suffered an aggressive infection which has left me scarred, can I claim even though I signed a consent form?

No one consents to negligent treatment. Over treatment of an area of skin by laser can lead to burning and tissue destruction. Until 2002 cosmetic surgeons may not have had specialist training. Many cosmetic surgeons operate on different parts of the body, which would normally be the specialist areas of other types of doctor. We have successfully recovered damages for accidents like this and secured substantial future loss claims to include future plastic surgery and camouflage make-up.

My surgeon severed a nerve during an operation or procedure. I signed a consent form that highlighted possible other problems, but can I claim?

Many types of surgery can lead to nerve damage, often in replacement surgery, such as Hip or knee surgery. Claims can be successfully brought for all types of injuries to nerves during surgery or procedures where the surgeon has not been careful, .ie:

  • Damage to the spinal cord from a caudal epidural and facet joint injection
  • Damage to the median nerve when taking blood from the arm
  • Damage to the radial nerve when taking blood from the arm

Can I instruct Birchall Blackburn Law instead of my current solicitors which I am unhappy with?

You have the right to seek alternative advice at any time. We will give you a free initial consultation to discuss what action your solicitor has taken and why you are unhappy.

If you wish to transfer your claim, we can smoothly arrange for you to transfer to us.

How can you help me with rehabilitation?

We can help you overcome difficulties by discussing strategies for your long term future. Your compensation includes consideration of rehabilitation for your range of needs and support .We can help you access rehabilitation providers quickly to maximise your recovery process.

When do I issue court proceedings?

For an adult with capacity normally the strict deadline is 3 yrs from your date of knowledge of harm suffered.

A child has until 21st birthday.

Can I instruct you even though the hospital I am claiming against is not in the North West?

Yes, Birchall Blackburn Law act for clients on a nationwide basis.

Will I be able to make a claim for any other financial loss?

Yes. Your claim would be split into two categories: your clinical negligence ‘injury’ claim ( General Damages) and your financial losses as a result of the injury (Special Damages). We would draft a schedule listing your losses which can include such things as loss of earnings, medical expenses, prescription charges, care and assistance received from family and friends as a result of the negligence.

I am worried I may have contracted Hepatitis C from a hospital worker. What is it? What should I do?

Hepatitis C can cause inflammation of the liver and if untreated can cause chronic liver disease. In extremely rare cases, it can cause cancer.

Sadly, over 5000 women have recently been contacted as a result of possible infection from a hospital worker.

If you are worried that you have been infected or you should contact your GP. If you have been infected then we will assist you with the appropriate legal advice on how to bring a legal action against the hospital.

If a medical practitioner has HIV will they still be able to treat me?

Currently, a healthcare professional with HIV cannot deal with any invasive or surgical treatment, including dentistry, where the workers blood could contaminate the patients open tissues.

The government is proposing to change the system to allow those with an undetectable viral load of HIV in their body, to perform surgery and dental treatment. Approximately, 110 staff in the NHS are affected.

In the unlikely and rare event that you do contact HIV or any other condition from a healthcare professional, you are entitled to bring a claim against NHS England.

Are you able to assist me with representation in a coroners inquest?

In many cases a coroners court hearing takes place without the need for lawyers. However, we are able to provide representation and we have access to specialist barristers to represent you.

Representation can be obtained on a no win no fee basis. We will discuss this with all family members where a death has resulted as a consequence of alleged negligence.

Is legal aid still available?

Legal aid funding is only available in cases where an where a neurological injury has occurred, whilst in the womb or in the first 8 weeks of life, which results in a sever disability.

For further information, or to speak to a Medical & Clinical Negligence law specialist,
please Email us or telephone on 0800 614 722