26 November, 2021
Closure, recognition of harm, apology and compensation are all motivators to pursue a legitimate claim.
We are one of only 91 franchised firms nationwide that can offer public, LAA (Legal Aid Agency) funding to investigate a claim for medical negligence during childbirth. Non franchised firms can run these cases on a 'No Win No Fee' basis supported by an insurance policy to fund disbursements. Ultimately, this can mean deductions from damages to reflect a success fee and the insurance policy. The extent of what might be deducted from damages is subject to judicial approval, but it is certainly something to take into consideration when stepping into the shoes of the infant and acting in their best interests as Litigation Friend.
Neurological claims by their very nature are particularly complex and a niche area of law. They often involve several experts in obstetrics, midwifery, neurology, radiology, and neonatology to prove 'liability or fault' in a claim.
On occasion there is a 'Serious Incidents Requiring Investigation' report published by the hospital to address significant harm that has occurred when a baby is injured during childbirth. The process of evidence gathering is lengthy and it could be two years before a comprehensive letter can be written to the hospital supported by detailed medical evidence setting out the allegations and specifically what damage the negligence has caused.
With this in mind it is essential to be happy with the team around you and that they can explain and guide you through the process.
With years of experience as a team we recognise that life comes before litigation. Normally the main priority for our clients has been top class rehabilitation management, appropriate adapted housing, and a substantial support package to meet the needs of the individual, whether it's a pool for hydrotherapy, a comprehensive care package, or specialist equipment.
The journey starts with the family supported by senior barristers and experienced experts. Having established close relationships, we are able to involve them from the start to assist with merit.
Typically, we will take a summary of instructions from the family, gather, and analyse medical records, prepare a statement of issues, and identify appropriate experts to make the case.
Due to the nature of neurological injuries, it is not possible to provide definitive answers at the early stage of a case. It is our job as lawyers to manage your expectation and keep you informed. We have the benefit of investigating and running similar cases over a number of years. Instructing the right experts and asking the right questions help to progress and narrow the issues.
Once fault has been established, we can apply for an interim payment to meet the most immediate needs that reflects a reasonable proportion of what we think the likely value of the claim is. That can be done without obtaining the multiple reports that are likely in order to investigate the full extent of the injuries.
The defendant panel solicitors that represent hospitals, have their own experts in the clinicians who are effectively both witnesses and experts, and external experts. They are not limited in the same way by funding. Instructing the right experts and asking the right questions helps to progress and narrow the issues. There has been a recent trend by the defendants, whilst admitting fault, to raising a 'genetics defence' as part of the cause for the disabilities. Awareness assists our ability to respond and deal with the real issues.
As a client you need a team around you that can navigate those claims and avoid disappointment and confusion when you are already affected by the neurological injury and the challenges associated and likely psychological trauma.
We are proud of what we have achieved for our clients, including several multi-million-pound settlements. We have supported parents to be parents rather than carers and provided peace of mind for families that the needs of the infant will be met beyond their lifetime.
These are rare, but lifechanging events need to be handled by a team that understand the injury, the law and the human impact.
For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here