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Medical Negligence Claim Solicitors - No Win No Fee Compensation Lawyers

HELPLINE 0844 332 0095

There are a number of potential methods that can be used to fund a medical negligence claim in the County Court or in the High Court including no win no fee, legal aid, before the event insurance, private finance and trades union funding. Legal aid is limited except for children and most cases are now dealt with using a conditional fee agreement other wise known as the no win no fee scheme. Most trades unions now refer their members on to no win no fee solicitors rather than risk funding compensation claims themselves and before the event insurance (BTE) rarely covers a medical negligence compensation claim. Private funding is rare with most potential claimants choosing the no win no fee scheme :-

    No Win No Fee

    Most medical negligence claim solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme however they will usually require that the claimant finances their own disbursements and expenses whilst the solicitor carries out the legal work without making any charge for their time except and unless the case is won. In those circumstances the losing third party will pay all of the claimants legal costs and will refund any expenses and disbursements paid out in advance by the claimant. The effect of this is that most no win no fee medical negligence compensation claims are not totally risk free and the claimant may be at risk of losing any fees paid in advance for disbursements including medical records and consultants examination reports. Whilst most medical negligence claim solicitors could afford to pay all of the expenses they prefer their client to contribute in order that the claimant has a stake and thereby a serious interest in the outcome of the claim thus ensuring that the claimant is attentive and responsive to requests from their own solicitor in addition to deterring those who might consider making a frivolous or speculative no win no fee medical negligence claim.

    Legal Aid

    Those on a low income or in receipt of benefits may qualify for legal aid to investigate and take legal action in a potential clinical negligence claim. Nearly all children will qualify for legal aid with a nil financial contribution as the assessment process will consider only the child's personal income and assets (rather than the personal income and assets of the child's parents). Legal Aid funding is preferable to a no win no fee medical negligence claim as there is never any requirement for the claimant to contribute to expenses although there may be a requirement following the means test to make a contribution to the Legal Aid fund. In addition a Legally Aided claimant cannot generally have a costs order made against them whereas in a no win no fee medical negligence compensation claim the claimant is well advised to insure against potential costs orders in the event that the case is lost.

    In most cases of a child who has suffered a birth injury caused by medical negligence including cerebral palsy, Erbs palsy and brachial plexus palsy, that child will qualify for public funding in the form of medical negligence legal aid to take action for compensation with a nil contribution despite having parents with substantial assets and income. That is because in cases where the medical negligence claim is being brought on behalf of a child under the age of 18, the child is the applicant for medical negligence legal aid and therefore only the child's assets and income, if any at all, is considered.

      Legal Services Commission

      The Legal Services Commission outlines the requirements for public funding applications regarding medical negligence. Legal Aid solicitors will where possible ensure your case complies with and satisfies the conditions of acceptance. Some of these requirements are:

      • Cost-Benefit - There are particular parameters in place that dictate what ratio must exist between the expected legal costs of a claim and the estimated value of compensation.

      • Prospects of Success - Public funding is not typically available for claims in which the prospects of success are less than even. If the costs exceed the likely benefit this will also be the case. However where cases have good prospects funding is more likely.

      • Importance of the Case - The Legal Services Commission will sometimes make a judgement regarding the importance of the case. This is a measurements dictated in part by the importance of the situation to the outside 'reasonable man' and therefore not based on the passionate involvement of the particular person applying. Such judgements involve the estimated compensation level and the eventual consequences for the person applying should the application be denied.

    Before The Event (BTE) Insurance

    This is provided through certain household insurance policies. Owners of these policies should read the fine print to see if they are covered to take legal action to pursue a civil claim through the courts.

    Trades Unions

    These organisations may grant membership benefits to some claimants who are pursuing legal action before a civil court. Because the no win no fee medical negligence scheme is commonly available, many trades unions have opted to take back this privilege from their members. It is however still worth enquiring as there are occasions when a trades union will agree to cover a member's expenses - as always in trades union matters discreet inquiries may help.

    Private Funding

    Some claimants may opt to privately fund their claim, however, if a claimant has done the rounds of solicitors using the no-win no-fee scheme and no solicitor wants to take the case, then this should be a warning that the claim will probably be rejected by the civil court.

HELPLINE 0844 332 0095

After the Event Insurance

There is also another funding issue that must be considered and that is in regards to the potential for a case to be lost. This is not a problem for one of the funding categories as no costs awards can be made against a legally aided claimant however for a no win no fee medical negligence claim and for the other funding categories there is always the risk that the case will be lost and an award of costs can be made against the claimant for the winning sides legal charges. This is resolved by the use of an 'after the event' insurance policy which covers the claimant against the potential liability for the defendants legal costs.

HELPLINE 0844 332 0095

Time Limits - Limitation Act 1980

The provisions of the Limitation Act 1980 apply to personal injury compensation claims based on medical negligence. For most compensation claims, there is a limitation period of six years, however, that time period is reduced to three years for personal injury compensation claims.

"Limitation Period" is a legal term which refers to the limits that are placed on the amount of time you have to bring a legal claim for damages. Exceptions to the general three-year limitation period do exist. Those exceptions are outlined below. In the vast majority of cases, however, you have only three years to either settle your claim or to issue proceedings in a court of law and if that time period expires, then you are forever barred from seeking compensation for your personal injury.

Three years may seem like a long time, and some victims are tempted to wait a year or more before seeking legal representation. However, because of the amount of investigating involved with bringing a successful medical negligence claim, a solicitor needs at least a full 6 months before the expiration of the limitation period. In fact, 12 months is preferable. Yet another reason to act quickly is that most solicitors will not agree to provide representation on a no win no fee basis unless they have had the opportunity to adequately investigate the case. We operate the no win no fee scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client.

    Calculating the Three Year Period

    The three-year limitation period begins on the earliest possible date upon which the victim had the knowledge, or may have been reasonably expected to acquire the knowledge, that is necessary to bring a legal claim for compensation. The victim, then, must know three things before the limitation period begins running: the material facts, that their injury was serious enough to warrant a legal claim and the identity of the likely parties to the claim.

    In medical negligence cases, this rule means that the three-year period will not start to run until the victim discovers the problem, which can, in some cases, be decades after the medical treatment was obtained.

    Exceptions To The Three Year Rule

    Certain exceptions to the three-year rule exist, and when an exception applies to the case at hand, the time period may either be stopped or delayed. In addition to the exceptions outlined below, the court is also given considerable discretion to extend the time period in cases where exceptional circumstances exist. Note, however, that this is a rare occurrence, and it is unwise to rely on the possibility of an extension being granted by the court. The two main exceptions to the three-year rule are :-

      Minors & Infants

      For children, the three-year period does not begin to run until the victim reaches the age of 18. In these cases, the period will expire on the eve of the victim's 21st birthday

      Mental Incapacity

      For people with a severe mental incapacity, the three-year period may never begin to run. Note, however, that the three-year period may start to run if the victim's mental capacity returns.

HELPLINE 0844 332 0095