There has been increasing concern from Claimant solicitors about the recent proposals for fixed fees in Clinical Negligence cases.
The government are proposing to introduce a fixed costs regime for the investigation of Clinical Negligence cases valued at up to £250,000.00.
Clinical Negligence claims involve life-changing injuries and are more often than not very complex in nature. It is therefore crucial that specialist solicitors are able to investigate these cases thoroughly with the assistance of the best medical experts.
Suzanne Munroe, Head of Clinical Negligence at Switalskis Solicitors says: “The current proposals to limit costs in Clinical Negligence cases based on the value of the compensation recovered by the victims of negligence takes no account of the complexities of these cases and how notoriously difficult they are to prove. We usually need to engage several different experts to advise us once we have been through our internal vetting process. Although we are expert lawyers we cannot properly represent our vulnerable clients without the help of medical experts.”
At times, even the most devastating cases can have limited financial value, but does this mean these victims of medical accidents should not have their cases investigated?
Fixing fees is likely to disadvantage patients who are avoidably injured, or those bereaved as a result of Clinical Negligence, because their lawyers’ hands will be financially tied.
Claimant solicitors are also constantly having to battle against the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) to obtain damages which accurately reflect the severity of the injuries sustained by clients. There are often circumstances where admissions of negligence are not accepted by the NHSLA at an early stage, therefore increasing Claimant solicitors’ costs which could have been kept to a minimum with an earlier admission of fault.
As representatives of those who have suffered avoidable injury, or who have lost a loved one, in addition to uncovering the reasons why such tragic events occur, it is essential that we work towards ensuring that the same mistakes are not being made for patients in the future.
This introduction of fixed costs will prevent victims of Clinical Negligence from accessing the justice they deserve.
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Sunny Sandhu is a Clinical Negligence Trainee Solicitor based in Huddersfield.