Medical Negligence

26th March 2010
By Alena Smith in Medical Malpractice
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All of us like to trust our doctors and other medical professionals we see such as our dentists. And, happily, that trust is seldom misplaced. Unfortunately, however, there are times when even doctors can make a mistake in treating a patient or when first making their diagnosis. When this happens, and the patient suffers distress or, worse, an injury, than the doctor or medical professional may be guilty of medical negligence. The patient would then be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence compensation.

As may be expected making a claim for compensation against a medical professional can be a long, drawn out and very involved process. Because of the complexities involved in making such a claim the claimant will need to employ a specialist solicitor to help them take the claim forward.

But, care and time must be taken to ensure that the right solicitor is found. One that can be relied upon to obtain the best settlement possible. If possible it is always best to approach a solicitor that has been recommended to the claimant by an independent friend or colleague. Word of mouth recommendations are usually the most reliable method of finding a good lawyer or compensation solicitor.

In the UK most compensation solicitors will offer to take cases on a 'no win no fee' basis. Also known as a 'conditional fee arrangement' this means that all the solicitors fees will be waivered in the event of losing the case. However, because of this layers will not take on any case that they think they may lose; this can make finding a solicitor who will take on the case a frustrating and time consuming process.

Once a suitable lawyer has been hired the lengthy claims process begins with the lawyer firstly gathering all the available evidence. The most important evidence of course will be the medical records of the claimant and details of the treatment given or diagnosis received. These records will be the foundation on which the case is built and will enable the solicitor to prove that medical malpractice has taken place.

The lawyer or compensation solicitor will then hand all the facts of the claim over to their own medical experts for an opinion as to the extent of the malpractice. This expert will advise the solicitor if there was medical negligence on the part of the offending medical practitioner.

Once the medical experts have had their say the claimants solicitor will propose a settlement figure for each party to consider. If the medical professional disputes the claim or the amount of the settlement figure than the result of the claim will be decided by a court.

The legal process will be a long one and there are very rarely any shortcuts that can be taken. Even in cases were there is no real dispute about the facts the hammering out of the final settlement figure can take a very long, and frustrating, time to agree.

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