Medical Negligence: How To Identify The Specialist Solicitor You Need

Paul Hajek | 29 Aug 2013


tim bishop solicitor in salisbury photo

This is another in our series of guest posts by other leading law firms.

 I am grateful once again to Tim  Bishop Senior Partner of Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors in Salisbury for agreeing to provide this post on identifying the specialist solicitor you need if you have a medical negligence claim.

Being a victim of medical negligence can blow your confidence in ‘professionals’ of any sort clean out of the water. After having a traumatic experience at the hands of the medical profession, you might be justifiably reluctant to place yourself at the mercy of the legal profession, even if they appear to be your only hope of righting the wrong done to you by the other lot. 

You need to be rapidly and completely assured that you will be in the hands of experienced specialists in the field of medical negligence with a proven track record of proving negligence and obtaining the compensation to which their clients are entitled.

3 specialist medical negligence panels

First of all check out if the solicitor you are considering to take on your case is a member of any or all the following specialist solicitors panels:

  • Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel
  • AvMA Solicitor’s Referral Panel
  • Law Assist Specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitor’s Panel

They are?  Good, that reveals that they are an active and recognised specialist in medical negligence.  Medical negligence, due to its complexity, is not a field for the generalist to dabble in.

Legal Services Commission franchise

Does their firm hold a Legal Services Commission franchise for medical negligence? Having an LSC franchise means that the firm is recognised as being expert enough bring legally aided medical negligence claims for those clients on low incomes or benefits. Even though to, a large extent, medical negligence has now been removed from the scope of legal aid (or public funding as it is also known), it is still available for a small number of birth injury claims In any event, being granted an LSC franchise is a really good side of genuine specialist expertise – there are only about 120 firms with a medical negligence in England and Wales (out of over 11,000 law firms in total).

Is there a free initial appointment?

Most specialist firms of solicitors will also usually offer you a free of charge initial interview to establish whether or not there are grounds for making a medical negligence claim in the first place and that it can be made within the limitation period for such claims.  They will also be very aware that your state of health might not permit you to visit their offices for this interview – many will come to your home or visit you in hospital if required.

Appointing the right solicitor – the personal element

On a personal level your medical negligence solicitor should also exhibit in their dealings with you the reassurance and empathy you probably wished you had had from the medical profession. Above all, you should feel able to talk to your solicitor – and that they are listening. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing what are often personal details in  respect of your medical condition with your solicitor, your case is going to be severely disadvantaged.  Such qualities will prove a sound basis for your relationship with them; a relationship that might span months or even years, for, alas, medical negligence claims can sometimes take a long time to be settled – even with a top flight specialist solicitor by your side.

The need for specialist medical and legal knowledge

However, all the reassurance and empathy in the world won’t compensate for any gaps or failings in your solicitors specialist professional ability.  The success of your claim for compensation will rest squarely on their experience and expertise and they should be well versed in the fundamentals including:

  • The current law and procedure involved in medical negligence
  • Up to date medical knowledge relating to the complexities of the specific medical negligence you’ve experienced, as they will have to be familiar with clinical terminology and procedures and be able to understand and make use of medical data
  • An ability to source the most appropriate and medically authoritative experts to prepare reports and study evidence
  • Cutting edge negotiating skills (most claims are settled out of court)

The right solicitor can help speed recovery

The lay person, if they are fortunate, will not become a victim of medical negligence and will thus remain blissfully unaware of the immense complexity that can be involved in taking a claim for medical negligence to successful settlement.  If unlucky enough to become such a victim, the successful identification and hiring of the expert medical negligence solicitor they deserve will ensure that the burden of that vast, impenetrable tangle of complexity is lifted from their shoulders by their legal professional.  This will help and allow them to recover from the physical and emotion legacy of the medical negligence they experienced.  The value of a good solicitor to the victim of medical negligence is almost beyond measure.

If you believe that the solicitor you have in mind ticks all the above boxes and you strongly feel that your claim is justified and that they think it is legally viable, you are probably in the best position possible to move on with your life and hopefully well on your way to having your trust in the ‘professional’ class restored.

Tim Bishop senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – a Wiltshire and Hampshire based law firm with a specialist team of medical negligence solicitors. If you have been the victim of a medical error and want to make a medical negligence claim, contact them on 01722 422300.

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