Medical negligence claims can be long, involved and complex processes. They can take considerable time from making the decision to pursue a claim and the claim ultimately being settled. There are numerous factors that come into play when making a claim. Medical negligence can range widely from minor issues to life-changing injuries with complex outcomes and a need for continued support.
That said, medical negligence claims are settled every day and the length of time it can take shouldn’t be a discouragement from pursuing a valid claim.
How long does a medical negligence claim take on average?
While there can be significant differences in timescale as a consequence of the details of the claim, the average medical negligence claim can take anywhere between 12 to 18 months to reach a resolution.
If the other counterparty admits to the negligence, then it can be resolved in much less than a year. At other times, if the other party refuses to accept any responsibility then it can take much longer.
Add in lots of complex information, evidence gathering and disputes, and it can easily take more than two years.
What are the processes involved in a medical negligence claim?
After someone has decided to pursue a claim, and funding options have been explored, records then need to be obtained. Your claim will need to be properly investigated, with sufficient evidence gathered in order to support your claim.
Your medical records will need to be obtained by your solicitor and then examined by medical experts. This on its own can take anywhere between six and twelve months.
Independent experts will need to be instructed to prepare reports. These will explore whether harm was caused as a result of medical negligence and whether the treatment provided constituted a breach of duty.
Experts are only able to comment on areas that fall directly under their specialism. For instance, a GP or a psychiatrist can only comment on the actions of other GPs or psychiatrists. They may need to carry out examinations and will then comment on your likelihood of making a full recovery. This is the kind of information that will be crucial to how your claim is valued. It’s possible that further examinations might be required.
The next stage is to put a value on your claim. The level of pain and suffering will be taken into account as part of your general damages, with out of pocket expenses classified as special damages.
General damages will take into account any relevant court guidelines and will refer to settlements that other people with similar cases have received.
Special damages will involve a range of calculations, taking into account any past or predicted losses that you have suffered. This might be travel costs and other associated costs as well as a loss of earnings. In some higher value cases. independent experts might be required to provide information about adaptations to your home or other aids that are required.
After the supporting evidence has been collected a letter of claim will be presented to the defendant. This will summarise the details of the allegations giving the defendant information in order to value the claim. They will then have four months to investigate the claim, gather their own evidence and decide whether or not to contest the claim.
Following this, they will issue a letter of response that details their decision. The letter of response will then be considered. It might include an admission, or an offer might be made in writing.
A meeting between the parties may be arranged in an attempt to agree on a level of compensation. If the defendant disputes your claim, the details of the letter will be shared with the medical experts for their considered opinion of its contents. They may decide that they no longer wish to support your claim.
If no settlement has been reached, then it may be necessary to move to court proceedings. If your solicitor remains confident of the strength of the evidence, then court proceedings will begin.
The vast majority of claims do not reach trial. The court will set a timetable with the aim of encouraging resolution. Statements from the people involved in any treatment and the recovery process will be gathered, and the experts representing each side will meet to try and narrow any issues of disagreement. If a settlement can still not be reached, then a judge will determine the strength of the claim, and then assign a value to the claim if appropriate.
Which parts are likely to be delayed?
There are a variety of points during the process when a claim could be delayed. It may take some time for experts to compile a report. They may need further information, to undertake more examinations and extensive research. Should a defendant choose to contest a claim, and conduct their own research, this will then add delays to finding a resolution.
As a general rule, the greater the degree of contestation that takes place, the longer the process will take. It’s one reason why everything is done by legal professionals and the courts to try and find resolution and a just settlement as early in the process as possible.
Does it depend on the type of claim?
The more complex your case, with the greater range of evidence and information involved, the longer the entire compensation process can take. Expert legal advice and support can help to minimise delays, find solutions and negotiate the process in an efficient way.
The experienced medical negligence team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can evaluate the strength of your claim and help you negotiate your way through the process.
For expert confidential advice contact us today.