Posted on May 21, 2015 in Personal Injury by Richard Poole
A recent local report indicates that the amount of money paid out in compensation claims by NHS Tayside has more than quadrupled in under five years.
Regardless of your point of view, what is certain, is that the general public are much better informed of their legal rights than ever before, and much more likely to speak up if they feel that something has been done wrong. I'm often approached by clients looking to pursue cases of medical negligence and on the whole tend to offer three pieces of advice at the outset.
The first thing to consider is funding, i.e. how will you pay for your legal costs? Owing to the legal test involved cases of clinical negligence are often difficult to prove. It's generally necessary to recover full medical records and instruct a report from a suitably qualified independent medical expert to determine whether a likely case of negligence exists. These reports are usually expensive and unfortunately not always supportive. I generally direct my clients in the first instance to look to any existing policies of insurance they may have, to see if they are already paying for "legal expenses insurance". Often such insurance can fund both the cost of the initial investigatory work, and the ongoing legal work thereafter, leaving you free to pursue your case without concerns regarding legal fees.
The second thing I generally recommend is to exhaust as far as possible the official complaints procedure of the practice or hospital where the alleged negligence occurred. Often people aren't simply looking for compensation - they want answers. Co-operating as fully as possible with those investigating the alleged negligence may often lead to the uncovering of very important evidence which can assist any claim for personal injury which might later be brought.
Finally, I always recommend that clients move quickly. Generally speaking, pursuers in Scotland have three years to settle claims or to raise court actions to preserve the three year period. The court does recognise however that there are cases where the negligence might have occurred some time ago, but the injured party doesn't realise until some time later. In such cases the three year period will generally run from the date on which the injured party became or ought reasonably to have become aware that there had been negligence, and that the negligence was the cause of their personal injury. In either event, time can be eaten up very quickly at the outset of a clinical negligence claim, and if you suspect you have been the victim of clinical negligence, don't delay.
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For further information, contact Richard Poole on the details below and he will be pleased to assist further.