What can a lasting power of attorney do?

With life expectancy increasing many more of us will face challenges to our physical and mental capacity as we grow older. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that, as of 2021, there are around 1 million people in the UK suffering from dementia, with that figure likely to steadily increase in the future.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can make life easier for both the person with dementia or other limited capacity, and their loved ones.

There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding LPA and what powers it gives someone. In this article we will take a look at LPA, what it is and precisely what powers are associated with it.

What is the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to choose a person or persons who you trust to act on your behalf in a legal capacity. You can only assign lasting power of attorney while you have the mental capacity to do so. Anyone over the age of 18 who has the capacity to make the decision can make an LPA.

There are two different types of LPA:

  • Property & Financial Affairs – this will enable your attorney(s) to manage your finances.
  • Health & Welfare – this will enable your attorney(s) to make decisions on your behalf about your healthcare and personal welfare.

Who can act as an attorney?

An attorney should be someone aged over 18 who is trustworthy and who isn’t bankrupt. You can appoint one or more attorneys and it’s always possible to appoint replacement attorneys. It can be advisable to appoint at least two attorneys, or one attorney and a replacement attorney who’s able to take over if your original choice can no longer enact their duties.

What decision can my attorney make on my behalf?

The precise powers of your attorney will depend on what authority you have given them in your LPA. If you’ve given them general authority, they will be able to make all the decisions that you would be able to make were it not for your incapacity.

LPA Property & Financial can deal with the following:

  • Buying and selling property.
  • Maintenance decisions at the property.
  • Opening and closing bank accounts.
  • Investment decisions.
  • Making limited gifts.

LPA Health & Welfare can deal with the following:

  • Where you should live.
  • Treatment decisions.
  • Dietary decisions.
  • Who can have contact with you.

Incapacity can be temporary or permanent. For instance, a medical condition may render you temporarily incapable of making a considered judgement about treatment. Your attorney(s) would then be able to make the decision for you, and their powers to make decisions on your behalf would cease as soon as you recovered capacity.

With a degenerative condition such as dementia where there is little prospect of making a full recovery, the powers an attorney will hold will usually be permanent.

What can my attorney not do?

Despite this extensive set of powers that both types of LPA grant there are limitations to their powers.

For instance, the regulations regarding financial gifts state that the gift has to be proportionate to the size of your estate. They can be of a seasonal or customary nature, such as a birthday gift to a grandchild. If an attorney wishes to make a substantial gift, perhaps as a means to evade Inheritance Tax, they will need to get permission from the Court of Protection.

Your attorney cannot access your will prior to your death, nor can they make any amendments to your will unless you give them specific instructions to do so. If you have lost capacity and your attorney feels it necessary to either make or amend a will on your behalf they will need to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Statutory Will.

Your attorneys are not able to delegate their powers. This can make issues such as investments more complicated as it could involve delegating decision making to an investment or fund manager.

What can happen if an LPA isn’t in place?

If you don’t appoint an attorney to handle your affairs should you lose capacity to make decisions on your behalf it can create extra administrative complications for your loved ones. An application may need to be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy on your behalf to make decisions for you. This can be a lengthy and complicated process, lasting over six months. In the meantime, there can be gridlock where important decisions that need to be made cannot be made.

Professional advice

If you’re considering the pros and cons of granting Lasting Power of Attorney to a family member or trusted friend then it’s sensible to receive impartial legal advice. The experienced team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can offer discreet and professional advice to help you make the best decision.

Contact us today with any questions you might have.

What you need to know before making a prescription error claim

Millions of prescriptions are administered in the UK every day. In most cases, the highly trained and professional people who administer these drugs ensure that everything is done correctly. Patients receive the correct drugs and are able to start or continue a course of required medication.

Errors do, however, happen. In fact, studies have found rates of 8.9 prescribing errors in acute hospitals per 100 medicine orders, and in 4.9% of all prescriptions across general practice. Considering the sheer number of prescriptions that are administered every year, this represents a huge amount of daily prescription errors.

Most errors have low to moderate consequences, some however can be serious and, in some cases, even fatal.

What kind of prescription errors are there?

Errors can occur in prescribing or dispensing medications. In both cases, if you’re suffering because of a prescription error it may be possible to claim compensation.

Dispensing errors can include:

  • Placing the wrong medication in the bag and handing it to the wrong patient.
  • Incorrectly labelling medication.
  • Dispensing the incorrect dosage of medication

Prescribing errors can include:

  • Prescribing a medicine that contains a substance to which the patient has an allergy.
  • Giving the patient the wrong dosage of medicine, potentially leading to an overdose.
  • Prescribing medicine that clashes with medication the patient is already taking.
  • Issuing repeat prescriptions for medicine without regular check-ups.

What are some of the potential effects of prescription error?

Prescription errors will, in most cases, not cause you any lasting damage in themselves. It will, however, mean that you are not receiving the correct medication to manage or cure your condition. The possible side effects of prescription error include allergic reactions, the worsening of existing conditions, to severe illness, hospitalisation and even death.

In the short-term, prescription error can lead to mild symptoms such as nausea or headaches. In more severe cases you may experience:

  • Seizures
  • Disability
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Liver damage

If you aren’t receiving the treatment you should be receiving for your original condition it could have serious consequences for your health.

Who is at fault for prescription error?

It can sometimes be difficult to ascertain who is directly responsible for prescription error.  If the error has occurred when the prescription is made, then liability for the error lies with the GP or medical professional who wrote the prescription. If, however, the error occurs when the prescription is being dispensed, liability lies with the dispensing pharmacist.

This is important for establishing who the claim should be brought against.

This distinction isn’t always straightforward. Pharmacists are trained to be able to identify anything on a prescription that looks unusual or out of the ordinary. They will then usually contact the medical professional who wrote the prescription to clarify anything of concern. The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee outlines all of the prescription checking  procedures that pharmacists should take to ensure that it contains no noticeable errors and is completely valid.

This extra set of checks will usually result in simple corrections being made before the patient receives their prescription. However, as the pharmacist will not have as full an understanding of the patient’s condition as the medical professional, it’s not always possible for them to recognise every error.

In such an instance, the pharmacist would not be responsible for the prescribing error. Instead, liability would remain with the medical professional.

Other issues can arise because of ineligible writing, problems with GP computer systems, time pressures on the medical professionals, lack of sufficient training for GPs or pharmacists or failure to conduct routine checks on the patient to identify if any prescription changes are required.

Making a claim for prescription error

Making the decision to launch a claim because of a prescription error can be daunting, particularly if you’re still receiving treatment from the medical professional concerned. By law, doctors and other health professionals cannot treat you any differently because you’ve made a complaint or begun a claim against their practice.

If you suspect you’ve been on the receiving end of a prescription error, you should:

  • Immediately stop taking your medication
  • Get in touch with the prescribing GP or medical professional immediately.
  • Keep all the packaging to show the doctor and legal professionals.
  • Keep notes of how the medication affected you.

Contact a medical negligence specialist

While most prescription errors will not result in serious harm, they still represent a breach of care by the medical professional. When they do result in significant injury and complications for the patient, it’s important that those affected receive answers as well as proper compensation for what they’ve been through.

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we’ve dealt with numerous prescription error claims, helping people gain redress for any suffering they have endured. If you believe you’ve been a victim of prescription error our professional and confidential team will be happy to advise you. Most medical negligence cases will be dealt with on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis, meaning that we will only take on your case if we believe there is a realistic chance of success.

Why not contact us today to find out more about how we can help?

How to establish fault in a defective product claim

When we purchase a new product, we have every right to expect that it will reach us in perfect condition. It should be box fresh, and, most importantly, safe to use. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes product standards can slip through the safety checks and end up on the shelves. While in most cases this will be a mild annoyance and will usually result in a no-quibble refund or replacement, in some cases it can lead to a personal injury.

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 introduced strict liability for damage arising from defective products in the UK. If you have suffered a personal injury due to a defective product you could be entitled to file a claim for compensation.

What is a defective product?

According to the Consumer Protection Act, a product will be considered defective if it did not meet the legitimate expectations of persons generally using it. This takes into account the manner in which, and the purposes for which it was marketed. Any instructions or warnings which accompanied the product would also be taken into consideration.

What products does the Consumer Protection Act 1987 cover?

The act covers all kinds of consumer goods. This includes medical devices such as artificial hip components and pacemakers, as well as pharmaceuticals. It includes products that are used in the workplace and products that are commonly used as components of other products such as engine parts.

Some types of services are also covered by the act, and this might include services such as an injury caused by a hairdresser or a personal trainer.

What might constitute an injury caused by a defective product?

‘Injury due to defective products’ covers a wide range of accidents and incidents. Examples of some of the types of accidents you might be able to claim for include:

  • Food poisoning from contaminated food.
  • Scarring or rashes caused by defective cosmetics.
  • Burns caused by electrical equipment catching fire.
  • A break caused by falling off a faulty ladder.

In any of the above cases you would be able to file a personal injury claim against the retailer who sold the product to you, the item’s manufacturer, or the service provider who caused the injury.

How do you make a defective product claim?

Initially, it’s quite likely you will meet stiff resistance from the retailer and manufacturer to your claim, whether you’re trying to secure a refund, a repair or a replacement.

To make a successful claim, there are a number of things that you should do. Firstly, take detailed photographs of the item, showing any obvious signs of damage or fault in your photographs. Make detailed notes about the accident, complete with the date and place where it happened. Explain how the incident happened in some detail in your notes.

You should keep hold of all the documentation relating to the product, particularly your proof of purchase. This doesn’t have to be the purchase receipt. Bank records, credit card statements can all be valid. All that matters is that you can show that you purchased the item from a particular retailer.

If you are planning on claiming for other expenses, such as the cost of medication, treatment, travel for appointments and loss of earnings, you will also need to keep all receipts as evidence.

Reporting the incident and making a claim

You should report the incident as soon as possible. If the problem occurred within 30-days of making the purchase you should contact the retailer, inform them that you are rejecting the item and request a full refund. If it occurs after 30 days have passed, you still have a right to have the item either refunded or replaced. If the problem has occurred within the guarantee period, contact the manufacturer directly.

If both the retailer and the manufacturer still refuse to address your complaint you should write a formal letter that informs them that you will be rejecting the faulty item under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You should also state your intention to pursue the matter in the small claims court if a full refund is not offered.

The quicker you act, the more likely your compensation claim is to succeed. The longer you take, the more difficult it can be to prove your claim and to establish where fault lies.

What is strict liability?

If a claimant can establish that the product was defective and the defect was the cause of their injury, they will be likely to receive damages. It’s not necessary to establish direct fault, negligence or avoidability but it is essential to prove that there was a causal link between the defect and the harm.

The defendant may be able to use the “development risk/state of the art” defence, if they can demonstrate that the defect was not discoverable by using all accessible knowledge at the time the product was supplied.

Why hire a personal injury solicitor to help you with your claim?

When you hire a personal injury solicitor, they will undertake a full assessment of your defective product claim and assess its relative strength. They will then be able to advise whether or not a claim is likely to succeed and if you should proceed.

The experienced team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can offer you discreet and professional advice about your defective product claim. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

How Covid19 affects cancer diagnosis

The Covid-19 pandemic that has taken hold of the world since early 2020 has created an unprecedented set of challenges to the way we live and work. The delivery of healthcare has been no exception. While health planners, medical specialists and government officials have rightly been focused on reducing the transmission of the virus, it hasn’t been without a wide range of unintended consequences.

A looming cancer crisis

The UK is heading towards a cancer crisis. That was the conclusion of the BBC Panorama programme as they unveiled shocking figures which illustrated the full devastating impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on cancer patients. There is now a growing backlog of work that has been created as a result of the pandemic, meaning that large numbers of people are going undiagnosed and untreated.

Large scale disruption

There has been significant disruption to cancer treatment across the board. Vital treatments, appointments and surgeries have all been cancelled, leaving patients in a worrying state of limbo. Drug trials of potentially life-saving new treatments have been put on hold. Routine screening appointments have been delayed. On top of all this is the psychological impact of the crisis on people who may well need cancer treatment. Worrying signs and symptoms have been ignored for fear of attending a GP surgery or hospital. Others have presumed that the NHS is at full-capacity and they would be a burden.

Early diagnosis saves lives

The earlier cancer is diagnosed, and treatment can begin, the more likely it is to be successful. If bowel cancer can be detected at stage 1 the chance of survival is 90%, if it isn’t detected until stage 4, that drops dramatically to just 10%. Early diagnosis is literally a matter of life and death.

Diagnosis has been impacted

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, the government issued guidelines that led to the delay of two million cancer screening appointments. This decision resulted in thousands of cancer cases being missed. The opportunity for early diagnosis was lost with devastating consequences for those concerned.

The Forgotten C

From being known as ‘The Big C’, there is now concern that cancer has become ‘The Forgotten C’. Guidelines that were put in place in an attempt to prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus cases has resulted in people who would previously have sought treatment now being reluctant to do so. Fear over contracting the virus has prevented people from visiting A&E, even when worrying symptoms such as bleeding might suggest they have something seriously wrong. 1 in 10 cancers are spotted during visits to A&E, and at the pandemic’s peak were only half of what they were the previous year.

Those that did attend were often faced by worryingly low staffing levels, with resources stretched incredibly thin. Many faced very long waits for life-saving scans. At the height of the pandemic, the number of referrals for cancer treatment decreased by two-thirds.

A tragic case

Sherwin Hall, a 27-year-old delivery driver from Leeds, made 13 visits to hospital and pleaded for a scan before finally receiving one at the end of May 2020. It was then discovered that he had a five-inch tumour in his pelvis and 30 small tumours in his legs. Both his GP and consultants advised him that he couldn’t have a scan as services were slowed down as a result of Covid-19. Tragically, Mr. Hall died in December 2020. His family believes that had he had a scan when he first requested one, he would still be alive. This is just one case out of thousands, of people who now face a precarious future as a result of delays.

How government decisions impacted on cancer patients

In March 2020, the government announced widespread emergency reforms in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These dictated how NHS resources were to be deployed and estimated that there would be an unprecedented demand for ICU facilities. As a result, all current clinical cancer trials were put on hold, and lifesaving treatments such as chemotherapy were halted for thousands of patients across the country.

Despite being advised that it would be a high-risk strategy, the government guidelines stated that radiotherapy should be delayed and even avoided altogether in some circumstances. In effect, some radiotherapy machines that might have saved lives were left unused. Vacant bed and diagnostic equipment across the private health sector were left empty at the height of the pandemic. They are now in greater use, but failure to make use of these resources early on probably cost lives.

Last summer, scientists warned that continued delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment could cost up to 35,000 lives that would otherwise have been saved.

Serious medical negligence

Legal medical negligence specialists are being approached by a growing number of people who have suffered as a consequence of the government’s decisions since the pandemic began. The experienced, sensitive and professional team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can answer any questions you might have about the delays in your cancer diagnosis and treatment. For a free, no-obligation chat about the concerns you have please contact us on 0800 002 9577. Alternatively, you can use the online form.

What are the effects of making a medical negligence claim?

For most people with little or no understanding of the law, the whole area of medical negligence can seem complicated, even a little daunting. It can put people off pursuing claims, even when they feel they have a legitimate reason to make one. They might feel it’s financially prohibitive to make a claim, or that their case isn’t serious.

As specialist medical negligence solicitors, we talk to lots of people whose lives have been impacted by treatment that fell below an appropriate standard. They often voice a range of concerns about their claim, some of which we look at here.

Can I prevent the same thing happening to others?

People often presume that the main motivation for making a medical negligence claim is financial – That the claimant is seeking financial redress for what happened to them. Perhaps their careers suffered as a result, or they incurred lots of extra unexpected costs. Maybe they are looking for financial compensation for the pain and mental anguish they experienced as a result of negligence.

Some medical negligence claims involve procedures that were deeply traumatic resulting in ongoing stress and other mental health issues. The medical negligence process is designed to provide compensation that puts the victim in the position they were in before the incident happened. Strictly speaking, the aim is restitution rather than compensation.

While it would be wrong to downplay the importance of financial compensation for a victim of medical negligence, in most cases, it only plays a small part in their reasons for pursuing a claim.

Many want to ensure that a similar incident doesn’t happen to anyone else. They want proper attention to be paid to what happened to them and for tangible action to be taken. They may initially have had little intention of pursuing a medical negligence claim but were prompted to do so by frustration at how their complaint was dealt with. If they feel they have something important to share with the clinician and it has been dismissed, then they may feel that a claim is the only course of action left to them. They may not feel listened to and that communication has completely broken down between themselves and the clinician. They may no longer trust the clinician or the medical practice to take adequate action. They may feel their complaint is not being taken seriously and their concerns are dismissed.

If this is the case and the claimant is keen to ensure that no-one else should be the victim of anything similar, then a medical negligence claim may be the only route forward. By making the claim you can prompt the professional involved and the employer to investigate the incident further. This can lead to action being taken to minimise risk and a change in practice. Medical negligence claims have in the past been a catalyst for major changes in how some treatments are delivered.

Will a medical negligence claim affect my treatment going forward?

No two medical negligence claims are the same, but it can take between 12-36 months to complete a medical negligence claim. This length of time can be a concern for people, particularly if they’re in need of ongoing medical treatment.

People considering making a medical negligence claim often raise concerns about how it might impact on their future treatment, particularly in the year to three years when the claim is being considered. They may have limited alternative options locally for their treatment. They worry that their treatment will be disrupted or will somehow suffer.

This should not be the case. In fact, medical practitioners are legally required to provide the same level of treatment even if you have made a medical negligence claim against them.  You may feel personally uncomfortable being treated by the person against whom you are making the claim. Trust plays a large part in medical treatment and if you no longer have confidence in a medical practitioner then it’s not unreasonable to ask to be seen by another clinician. Most medical establishments will want to honour your request.

Medical practices in the UK are not allowed to refuse treatment to someone who has made a complaint in the past.  If you decide to move GP practices no record of your claim should be passed onto them. If you remain at the same practice you should be treated no differently because of your claim. If you feel that you are being treated differently it’s important to complain to the practice manager, or to your solicitor who will be able to offer advice about how you should proceed. The practice cannot attempt to force you to change to a different practice.

In practice, most medical providers have well worked out complaint procedures. These should ensure that your complaint and your treatment are kept entirely separate. They should try to ensure that you are treated fairly and that your claim is never mentioned during your treatment.

No one makes the decision to make a medical negligence claim lightly and claimants always have a range of concerns. Fear of being treated differently by medical practitioners due to making a claim shouldn’t influence your decision.

Is a claim only about money?

If you were to believe the tabloid press, people who make medical negligence claims are largely motivated by personal greed, aided and abetted by legal firms out to make money on the back of someone else’s misfortune.

The caricature is far from the truth. Medical negligence claims are complicated and lengthy processes with no guarantee of success. If a claim is successful, the settlement offered may well be modest. The aim of the medical negligence process is not to offer compensation, but restitution. Any settlement is not designed to lead to a life of luxury for the claimant. Instead it is about ensuring they have a similar quality of life to that which they had prior to the incident. Medical negligence solicitors always spell this out to potential claimants from the very beginning. If anyone is entering the medical negligence process with thoughts of making money, then they are misguided.

Talking to clients, we find they have a range of different motivations for pursuing a claim. Firstly, there is the distress, pain and inconvenience that has been caused by the incident. People lose their jobs, sometimes relationships, they can no longer enjoy activities they once enjoyed, and find their lives severely limited by medical negligence. In some cases, the negligence can ultimately lead to premature death.  

Most of them will already have made a complaint about what happened to them not expecting to have to take the process any further. The response they received through the complaints procedure may not have addressed their concerns. They may feel they weren’t listened to, or that the approach of the professionals dealing with their complaint was dismissive. This can lead to intense frustration and feelings of powerlessness. People are often at their wits end when they approach us having exhausted every available option short of making a claim.

High levels of trust are placed in medical professionals and when it’s felt that this trust has broken down it can leave claimants feeling bewildered. These emotional responses can all play a part in why people decide to pursue a claim, but without real substance to the claim a legal professional is unlikely to take on the case.

They may hope to receive a proper apology for what happened to them and to find closure for what has been a traumatic incident. This can be just as important as any financial payment when it comes to helping someone move on with their life.

Ensuring that the incident is properly investigated and lessons are learnt is another key motivation. Claimants don’t want something similar to happen to anyone else.  They may want the clinicians involved to be properly held to account for their mistakes.

The reasons for pursuing a medical negligence claim are complex and varied. No two cases are the same, but money is rarely, if ever, the principal motivation for our clients.

What happens to the doctors and nurses involved in my claim?

It may be surprising, but one of the main concerns of people making a medical negligence claim is what might happen to the doctors and nurses involved in the initial incident. People are genuinely concerned that the impact on the lives and careers of the professionals involved might be detrimental to the point of career ending.

There are high levels of respect for the NHS in the UK. Doctors and nurses are trusted much more than members of other professions. In most cases we may feel that any medical negligence of which we were a victim was a rare mistake on behalf of the individual, rather than part of a consistent pattern. That’s mostly the case. Medical professionals are highly trained individuals who operate within strict frameworks designed to minimise mistakes and ensure patient care. But these frameworks are not foolproof and even the most diligent of professionals can make mistakes. When that professional is a doctor or other health professional, the consequences can be drastic for the patient.

When a medical negligence claim is made the health professional in question will likely seek advice and support from their particular professional body, such as the British Medical Association or the Royal College of Nursing. They may receive support in their workplace, which is likely to have a tried and tested procedure for dealing with medical negligence claims.

It’s possible there will be an internal investigation into what happened in this specific case. A claim also highlights areas where staff need further training or improvement can be made to the process, or new processes introduced.

Medical indemnity insurance is a legal requirement for any medical professional working in the UK. This insures them and their practice against medical negligence claims, so neither the professional nor the practice will be left out of pocket should your claim be successful. This reflects the understanding that mistakes do sometimes happen and that medical negligence claims may sometimes be unavoidable.

In some instances, the medical negligence claim may be so severe and life-changing that the claimant is keen to ensure the practitioner faces consequences for their action. Pursuing a claim can be a way to prove that a serious mistake happened and that the professional involved should not be practising. A successful claim may in some cases lead to a lengthy suspension, or a requirement that the professional undergoes further training. In some cases, the negligence incident may be so severe that that they are never allowed to practice again.

Medical negligence claims are not uncommon across the health sector and most organisations will have developed procedures for dealing with them. This will include ensuring that professionals involved are supported throughout the claim, and that adequate action is taken to resolve the issue. Employers will also be keen to ensure that health practitioners are conducting their duties at a satisfactory level and will support them in acquiring or re-acquiring the appropriate skills to ensure incidents don’t reoccur.

By not proceeding with a medical negligence claim you may feel you are helping a professional who you think made an honest mistake. In reality, complaints and medical negligence claims can be the necessary prompt to ensure that a similar mistake doesn’t happen again.

Talk to the medical negligence specialists

If you feel you have been the victim of medical negligence and you don’t feel that your complaint has been properly dealt with, then our team of experienced medical negligence specialists would be happy to hear from you. We can provide confidential and impartial advice about your circumstances and explore if a claim might be appropriate.

Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help.

How does the Hardship Fund work for victims of criminal injury?

If we become a victim of criminal injury it can have serious consequences for our financial as well as our physical health. If you are relatively low-paid and find yourself unable to work the impact can be considerable.

If your injuries are not deemed serious enough to qualify you for Criminal Injury Compensation, are unable to work and have no other recourse to financial support, then you may be eligible for financial assistance from The Hardship Fund.

What is the Hardship Fund?

The Hardship Fund is a discretionary scheme that was set up to provide limited financial relief for very lowly paid workers who may be temporarily unable to work as a direct result of being a victim of violent crime. It fills a gap for people whose injuries do not fall into the tariff of injuries in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012.

The fund was set-up to help victims who have no other financial support, such as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Similar to SSP, if you’re unable to work the fund will begin to provide support after your fourth day of absence from work for up to 28 days, provided the applicant has been unable to work for a continuous period of at least 7 days. The maximum you can receive is capped at the equivalent of four weeks SSP. The fund applies to injuries sustained in England & Wales.

Read more: The Hardship Fund on GOV.UK

Who is eligible?

The Hardship Fund is targeted at people on low incomes. You may be eligible if:

  • You earn less than £120 a week.
  • You’re not in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or an equivalent employer related scheme.
  • You were injured in England & Wales on or after November 27th, 2012 as a result of being a direct victim of crime. This means you were injured by a direct assault of a criminal.
  • You couldn’t work for at least 7 days as a result of the attack, having sustained either physical or mental injuries.
  • Your injuries are not eligible for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012.
  • You don’t have any unspent criminal convictions. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 doesn’t allow anyone with unspent convictions, which resulted in a custodial sentence or community order, to access any kind of financial assistance.  This applies if the convictions are unspent at the time the application is made. If you have other types of unspent convictions, payment will be either reduced or withheld unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you committed a motoring offence for which the penalty was a fine or penalty points, then you will not usually be barred from financial assistance, nor will any payment be reduced.

What you must do

If you’ve been the victim of a crime that has resulted in injuries, you must report them to the police within 48 hours of the crime. An application must be made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority within 8 weeks of the date of the incident.  

How to apply

You can’t apply directly to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for a payment from the Hardship Fund. Instead, applications are made by way of referral after following an initial assessment of your eligibility by Victim Support.

What is Victim Support?

Victim Support is an independent charity who work to support victims of crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales. They exist to help people get the support they need to enable them to get their lives back on track. Their service is entirely confidential, unless they feel that there’s a risk to the personal safety of the people involved.

Your nearest Victim Support care team will be able to provide advice and other support. You can find the details of your local branch on their website.

What you will need for your initial assessment

For your assessment with Victim Support you will need to provide a number of documents:

  • A crime reference number from the police. This will help Victim Support and the CICA confirm that you were a victim of a violent crime that was reported to the police.
  • A letter from your employer or a pay statement stating that you’re not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.
  • If you are self-employed, a copy of your most recent tax return to confirm that you earn less than the maximum income threshold for Hardship Fund assistance.
  • A copy of a certificate from your doctor, sometimes called a ‘fit note’, confirming that you’ve been unable to work for at least 7 consecutive days as a direct result of being a victim of violent crime.

Once Victim Support have made an initial assessment, and confirmed you are eligible to apply, they will then ask you to provide signed consent for the release of all records, necessary evidence and any other relevant documentation about you and your injury. This will then be forwarded to Victim Support to process.

They will then send your application to CICA, who will check the crime number to see if you have any unspent criminal convictions. Once they have this information, they usually aim to process your application within 6 days.

Impact on benefits

If you’re in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA), you must immediately inform the Department of Work & Pensions about any change in your circumstances. Any payments you receive from the Hardship Fund will be considered when the income contingent levels of ESA are calculated.

Experienced Criminal Injury support from Mark Reynolds Solicitors

The experienced team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors understand the complexities of the criminal injury compensation system. You can find out more about how we can help here.

Contact us today for confidential professional advice about your case.

What dental injuries can lead to a medical negligence claim?

For many of us a visit to the dentist is never something we look forward to. When we do visit, perhaps in need of emergency treatment, or perhaps for cosmetic work, we hope it will give us more confidence and we fully expect it to be problem-free.

Most of the time, the treatment people receive at the dentist is of the highest standard, and whatever fears they had at the beginning they are happy with the work. Occasionally, however, things can go wrong. When it does it can lead to significant pain, disfigurement and trauma.

In such instances, it may be possible to pursue a medical negligence compensation claim.

Read more about dental negligence claims

What is dental negligence?

A dental negligence claim is a claim in one category of medical negligence. As with other forms of clinical negligence a claim can be made if you have sustained any form of personal injury while undergoing dental treatment. As well as physical injury, this can include psychological harm or financial loss. Negligence occurs when anyone responsible for your treatment causes harm to a patient, through a mishap or a mistake. This can be the dentist themselves, or a member of the nursing or care staff.

How common is dental negligence?

Thousands of dental procedures are carried out in the UK every day. Considering the numbers, you might presume that dental negligence is common. Thankfully, most dental practitioners operate to the highest of standards, and negligence is relatively rare. Historically, fewer than 10,000 cases of medical negligence are recorded in the UK every year.

However, the number of cases has risen considerably over the past few years. This rise is primarily put down to the increase in cosmetic dentistry. These procedures bring with them a range of extra risks. Cosmetic dental procedures can be complex, intrusive and require major reconstruction of the teeth, jaw bones, and gums. Therefore, the risks associated with cosmetic dentistry are generally higher than with remedial or preventative work.

What kind of dental injuries can lead to a medical negligence claim?

The most common types of dental medical negligence will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Poorly executed surgical procedures – any kind of surgical procedure, from a filling to a full set of implants, can potentially go wrong. If something does go wrong, then a medical negligence claim can be made.
  • Poorly managed anaesthesia – a surgical procedure will usually require the administration of either local or general anaesthetic. If something goes wrong, and the application of anaesthetic results in an injury, or another type of health problem for the patient, then a medical negligence claim can usually be made.
  • Misdiagnosis – if a problem is missed when you undergo a dental examination, or you are sold dental work that isn’t necessary, then this counts as misdiagnosis. If the subsequent treatment or neglect results in injury, then you may be able to make a claim for medical negligence.
  • Inadequate patient care – either during or after treatment has taken place, the patient should be given the necessary standard of care to help aid their recovery. If it isn’t, and injury or harm ensues as a result, then a claim for medical negligence may be able to be made.

Are there different types of dental medical negligence claims?

When it comes to making a medical negligence claim much depends on how the injury was caused, and the circumstances that led to it.

A dental practitioner could be guilty of one of the following types of negligence:

  • Contributory negligence – in a case of contributory negligence, the victim themselves have been negligent, which has led to the injury. In most of these cases, the victim is unlikely to receive any compensation.
  • Comparative negligence – in cases of comparative negligence, both the dental practitioner and the victim are both deemed as somehow culpable for the injury. These can be the trickiest cases for legal professionals to pursue, and they will nearly always be lengthy. The legal process will usually result in a court case, where the correct amount of blame will be apportioned between the two parties. If more blame lies with the practitioner, then compensation may be awarded.
  • Vicarious liability – in this case, partial blame is being apportioned to a third party for the injury caused. It might be a claim against the supplier of a particular piece of medical equipment that failed, resulting in injury. Or it could be a claim against the company that employs the dentist, which has failed to meet the required statutory health regulations, resulting in injury to the patient.
  • Gross negligence – this is the most serious and least common type of dental medical negligence case. It’s only pursued when there’s evidence that a dental practitioner has blatantly disregarded the health and well-being of a patient. There are a number of ways in which this could happen. The practitioner could be under the influence of drugs, or alcohol while performing a procedure, or they could act recklessly out of anger or because they’re distracted.

What kind of dental treatments might lead to a medical negligence claim?

Any number of dental treatments can result in injury which might then prompt a medical negligence claim.

  • Inadequate root canal therapy
  • Failed implants
  • Extracting the wrong tooth
  • Failing to properly manage and treat tooth decay
  • Inadequate fillings
  • Inadequate crowns
  • Failing to manage gum disease (periodontal disease)

Cosmetic dentistry claims

As the amount of cosmetic dentistry undertaken increases year-on-year, the number of claims for medical negligence relating to cosmetic dentistry has also increased. These cases include accidents during bleaching, porcelain veneers, crowns, bridgework and orthodontic work. Botox, hyaluronic acid and dermal fillers can all be administered incorrectly, and a claim may be possible as a result.

Dental implants

If you have missing teeth, then you may be recommended dental implants. These can be transformative, giving people new confidence. There can be problems, however, in how they’re fitted. Resolving problems with incorrectly fitted implants can prove painful and costly. Claiming compensation can help raise the funds to pay for corrective treatment and can help make sure that no-one else suffers in the same way.

What can be claimed?

When a claim is made for dental negligence tangible and intangible costs will need to be calculated. Some of these costs are easy to calculate, others are more complex. A judicial framework provides some guidance, and your solicitor will be able to advise what might apply in your case.

Most dental negligence cases will involve one or more of the following types of negligence:

  • Special damages – all non-physical costs are included in this category, such as being forced to cancel a holiday, or being unable to take up work if you’re self-employed.
  • General damages – this includes any medical damage that was done such as pain, mobility or psychological trauma.
  • Care costs –any extra care assistance that is required because of your injury.
  • Loss of current and future earnings – the impact the injury has had on your working life.
  • Medical expenses – out of pocket expenses that the claimant has had to pay, such as corrective treatment.
  • Travel costs – any out of pocket expenses that have been incurred because of having to travel for treatment.

What to do if you think you’ve been a victim of medical negligence

As with any legal process that requires adjudication, evidence will need to be presented on both sides. These will either prove or disprove the claim so it’s important to do all you can to strengthen your claim.

Here’s some steps you can take:

  • Document your injury – visit a doctor or a hospital to have your injury treated. This will create an impartial medical record that details your injury. Make sure that you ask whoever treats your injury to record how long they think it will take for the injury to heal, and how long it’s likely to take.
  • Collect important information – find out the names of any of the team who assisted the dentist in carrying out your treatment. Find out the name of the company who owns the dental clinic if it’s a private practice or a cosmetic dental clinic.
  • Record the financial impact of the injury – if you’ve lost income, or had to miss work as a result, the cost of medication, had to take unexpected journeys for treatment, or had to pay for corrective treatment out of your own pocket, then these should all be written down.
  • Contact a dental negligence solicitor – a specialist medical negligence solicitor will be able to advise you as to the strength of your claim. At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we can represent you on a no-win, no-fee basis if we believe your case stands a good chance of success.

Call Mark Reynolds Solicitors for professional dental negligence advice

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we can provide confidential professional advice about your potential dental medical negligence case. If you feel you have suffered dental medical negligence, call us on 0800 022 957 to speak to one of our experienced team.

How can a personal injury solicitor help me?

If you find yourself injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you may be able to claim compensation for what happened. Personal injury claims are not about receiving a windfall but are instead designed to help restore your quality of life to how it was before the accident, and the resulting injury.

In short, the process aims to help you back on your feet, and to finance any necessary adjustments that may need to be made because of your injury.

How do you go about making a claim?

Many people are hesitant about making a personal injury claim, even if they have a strong case. They are put off by what they perceive as a lengthy and complicated process. They may fear that it’s costly, and the risks are too great for them to proceed.

Although the process can be lengthy and does require a satisfactory amount of supporting evidence to be provided, it is by no means impossible. In fact, thousands of claims are successfully made every year across the UK.

If you have a good case, with proper preparation and the right advice you can receive the compensation to which you’re entitled.

What is the role of a personal injury solicitor and how can they help?

Personal injury is a serious matter.  Depending on the extent and severity of the injury, it can be incredibly traumatic and even life-changing for you and your family. It can have a wide range of consequences, from pain, to loss of income, to care costs and psychological trauma. If you have a family, they too will be impacted by your injury.

There’s also issues to consider if you make a claim.  There are deadlines to meet, and potential procedural pitfalls that could scupper your claim, even if you have a strong case. With so much at stake, it might be considered foolhardy to try and make a personal injury claim without the help of a personal injury solicitor.

So, what exactly do they do, and how can they help you secure compensation for your injury? Let’s explore further…

Do you have a case?

You may feel that you have a case for a personal injury claim, but an experienced legal professional in the field of personal injury will be in a far better position to make a fair evaluation of its strength.

Your personal injury solicitor will look at your case in detail. They will look at the evidence you’ve gathered and examine its relative strengths. They will ask questions and go into what happened in more depth. From this information they will then be able to assess whether or not they think you have a viable case. They understand the process, they know what to look for and have experience of what has and hasn’t proven successful.  

Most credible personal injury solicitors will have pursued more successful personal injury claims, than they’ve have had claims rejected, and will operate on a no-win, no-fee basis.  This means that they’ll only collect payment as a percentage of the total compensation amount awarded if your case is successful. If it isn’t then, they won’t be paid. They have no self-interest in pursuing a case they don’t think is strong enough to succeed. So, if a no-win, no-fee personal injury solicitor agrees to take your claim on it’s already cleared a significant hurdle.

If your claim is rejected as not being strong enough, you will, in all likelihood, have saved yourself a considerable amount of stress, time and anguish.

Many people worry about their chances of success so may be hesitant about making a claim. A personal injury solicitor will give you confidential and credible advice that allows you to make a proper decision.

Key questions they will look at

A personal injury solicitor will want to be satisfied that you can prove the following:

  • Your injuries were caused as a result of a particular accident.
  • The accident was caused due to someone else’s negligence or mistakes.

These two points may sound relatively simple but proving this in court is another matter. If the claim has reached that stage, the defendant will probably deny all charges and plead innocent. For your case to be successful you must be able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is to blame for your accident and injuries.

What kind of evidence will a personal injury solicitor be looking for?

To help support your claim, and to help a personal injury solicitor make a judgement about its likely success, you should try to provide as much of the following as possible:

  • Details recorded at the scene – if you’re involved in an accident, any details recorded at the scene or shortly after can be very helpful. The first priority should always be ensuring you receive any medical help required, but if you or someone else is able to write down details of what happened then this can be helpful.  If you’re incapacitated, and no one nearby records what happened, you should record what you can remember as soon as possible afterwards
  • Witness details – first-hand accounts from witnesses to your accident are an extremely powerful piece of supporting evidence. Many people presume that witnesses will automatically come forward if a case reaches court. This isn’t always the case so it’s imperative that you take their details so you can follow up.
  • Photographic evidence – photos of your injuries and of the scene of your accident can be incredibly useful. If you’re involved in a road traffic accident, this might include the position of vehicles on the road.

Helping with the documentation process and evidence gathering

A key part to strengthening your personal injury claim is properly documenting your injuries and building up a case to support your claim. Before they agree to represent you, a personal injury solicitor will examine what you already have and advise if they think you need to produce more.

A solicitor will then help you gather further evidence. This might include statements from emergency services and medical records. They may ask that you have a medical examination to assess the extent of the injury and the ongoing challenges it presents, or a psychological assessment.

Calculating Compensation

Other evidence the personal injury solicitor will want to gather will be details of your finances to help calculate the level of compensation to be claimed for. Pay-slips, bank details, receipts from any travel to receive medical treatment may all be required. Your solicitor will look at the medical evidence and your own statements and then assess:

  • the pain and suffering you have experienced because of your injury
  • the prognosis for your injury
  • whether the injury has caused a loss of earnings
  • the expenses you have incurred because of your injury

They will then come up with a figure that they believe adequately compensates for what you have been through, and the amount you will need to return your life to the standard it was before your injury.

Approaching the negligent parties

When your solicitor has the evidence they require and have worked out the value of your claim, court papers will be lodged detailing your case and the amount of compensation being pursued. The defending parties will then be made aware of an impending court case. This will give them the opportunity to make an out-of-court settlement.

Only a small number of personal injury cases ever reach court, with the vast majority resulting in an out-of-court settlement. You may initially be offered an inadequate amount, but at this point the defendant will have admitted culpability creating a basis for further negotiations if they wish to avoid court.

Negotiating the out-of-court settlement

Sometimes cases can drag on, with defendants refusing to reach agreement. This can cause real personal hardship and distress, but your personal injury solicitor can at this stage secure a partial payment ahead of a full agreement being reached. If the defendant has admitted liability, then it is generally in their own interest to bring the matter to a close. If a company is involved the negative publicity of a court case is to be avoided.

Liaising with insurers

Your personal injury solicitor will also liaise on your behalf with your own and your defendant’s insurance company if appropriate.

Your ally at a difficult time

Experienced personal injury solicitors will have dealt with hundreds of cases, securing compensation and helping to guide people through a difficult process. At a challenging time, they are a valuable ally providing advice, perspective and much-needed legal muscle as you seek redress for a traumatic experience.

The experienced personal injury solicitors at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can help you secure the compensation you deserve. If you think you might be entitled to personal injury compensation call us on 0800 022 957 to speak to one of our professional team.

How to know if you have an iron infusions medical negligence claim

Over recent years the practice of administering medical iron infusions have come under closer scrutiny from both the media and medical professionals. They are prescribed to help treat and prevent iron deficiency anaemia. Occasionally, however, there can be issues with how the infusion is administered.

When it goes wrong the effects can be long-lasting. When that’s the case, it’s possible to make a medical negligence claim for compensation.

What is an iron infusion?

Iron infusions are used when dietary changes and iron supplements have proven ineffective in treating iron deficiency. They’re usually administered via injection, or by a drip straight into the vein in a procedure that lasts between 30 minutes and an hour.

Like most medical procedures, they come with a range of potential side-effects. The potential side effects of iron infusions can include:

  • Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet.
  • Dizziness, faintness, or light-headedness when getting up suddenly from a sitting or lying position.
  • Gastrointestinal pains such as nausea or cramps.
  • Problems with breathing.
  • Skin problems, including rashes.
  • Chest pains.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can include difficulty breathing, itching, or a rash that can cover the whole body).
  • Extravasation injury (damage caused by the loss of the solution from the vessel into the surrounding tissue spaces during an intravenous infusion. It can cause long term discolouration, ongoing pain and a loss of mobility).

If you have undergone an iron infusion procedure and you feel it fell below a minimum professional standard of competence, resulting in an avoidable physical or psychological injury, you may well be able to make a medical negligence claim.

How does a claim work?

Clinical negligence cases can be complex and may take some time to reach a conclusion. A claimant in an iron infusion medical negligence case will need to prove fault on the part of medical healthcare professionals, and they will need to establish that there has been avoidable harm that has impacted you personally. This is known as causation.

This can make medical negligence claims appear daunting, and it often prevents people from making a claim, even in cases where they have a reasonable chance of success. With the right support, expertise and legal knowledge working with you, the whole process becomes much more straightforward.

What proof do I need?

Medical negligence cases need to be built on evidence. The more evidence you can provide the more likely your case will be to succeed. The kind of evidence that could be useful are:

  • Medical records
  • Photographs
  • Detailed statements from the claimant
  • Witness statements (these can be from family, friends, and employer or work colleagues)
  • Financial evidence (did side-effects result in you being unable to work? Did you incur costs having subsequent medical treatment?)
  • Any reports from medical experts that can be used as evidence

How much can I claim?

Lots of different factors will be taken into account when working out the value of any compensation claim. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and every case will be different, but the factors are likely to include:

  • Severity of the injury
  • Impact on daily life
  • Length of recovery
  • Loss of earnings and projected earnings
  • Punitive damages

Is my claim likely to succeed?

Any claim for medical negligence can be time-consuming, involved and sometimes distressing. It’s not something that should be entered into without due consideration. The complexity of a medical negligence claim requires specialist legal knowledge. At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we have pursued countless successful medical negligence claims, helping our clients build up the necessary body of evidence and guiding them through the process.

We offer our services on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning that you pay nothing unless your claim is successful. With that in mind, we have no interest in encouraging you to make a claim we don’t feel would have a reasonable chance of success.

For professional and sensitive advice about iron infusion medical negligence claims, call us on 0800 002 9577, or complete our online contact form.

The unseen effects of a personal injury

When they hear the words personal injury, most people immediately think of a physical injury that could have temporary or permanent consequences. Broken bones, fractures, cuts and bruising may all be obvious, and can easily be displayed when you make a personal injury claim.

Physical injuries can usually be treated. They may take time to recover from, or force changes in lifestyle, that can be directly compensated for, but the less tangible effects of personal injury are sometimes even more devastating.

Emotional problems

Emotional problems cover a wide range of experiences with varying severities of symptoms. It may be mild anxiety that passes with time, or a more long-lasting condition that takes lengthy treatment to recover from, such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression.

The trauma of being involved in an accident must be considered when you make a personal injury claim. The consequences can be profound and are often more long-lasting and debilitating than the physical injuries. Whether it’s loss of income, reduced career opportunities, a more restricted life or other factors, they all influence a compensation claim.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating condition that occurs as a result of suffering an injury, serious accident, or being exposed to traumatic circumstances. PTSD can manifest itself in a number of different ways. These might include flashbacks, periodic intense anxiety, trouble sleeping and difficulty carrying out everyday tasks. Sufferers may experience bouts of anger and distress, panic attacks and feel an intense need to withdraw. It’s a complex condition that often combines a variety of symptoms which when taken together cause a great deal of distress.

Depression

Often a symptom of PTSD, depression is not an uncommon response for anyone who has been involved in a serious accident.  It’s not just periodic low mood, it’s an ongoing disorder which in some cases can make it extremely difficult to function in daily life. It often requires medication and therapy to help people make a recovery, which can be a slow process. If depression arises because of an accident it can impact on an individual’s ability to work, socialise and go about their business.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a common response to an accident. It can sometimes be generalised, or more specific, related in some way to an accident. If you’ve been in a car accident, you may find it difficult to drive again, or even travel in a car. If you need to drive to get to work, or as part of your job, the impact on your career will be considerable. It can create difficulties, sleeping and eating, and can lead to other long-lasting mental health issues. If your injury happened as a result of your working life, it’s not uncommon for workplace or task related anxiety to arise. It may need cognitive behavioural therapy.

Phobias

Accidents can lead to a range of different phobias developing because of the injury. These can be related to the incident specifically, or more general, but depending on their severity can cause the sufferer real problems, making it difficult to live their lives as fully as they would like.

Pernicious and ongoing

It can sometimes take a while for an accident victim to fully realise that they are suffering from a psychological disorder. They can be hard to admit to, even to yourself, and by the time many people feel treatment the problem has become embedded.

That’s why it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible and to be as open as you can be with your GP and other medical professionals.

As well as seeking medical help, it’s possible you may be able to make a personal injury claim because of the psychological distress you have suffered. It may be possible to receive financial compensation from the individual or company responsible for the accident. This could be used to pay for private treatment or other support to help you resolve or manage your problems.

The professional and experienced personal injury team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can advise you about your case, and a provide a no-win, no-fee service should you decide to proceed with a claim.

Call us on 0800 002 9577 or get in touch via our online contact form.