Clinical Negligence Claimants losing Legal Aid

From April 2013, the Government is withdrawing Legal Aid for anyone who wishes to pursue a new clinical negligence claim against a doctor, or indeed any other health practitioner.  These claims are often difficult and complex to prove, and a client must obtain costly medical expert reports before knowing if their claim has a reasonable chance of success.

No Win No Fee

When Legal Aid is abolished for clinical negligence claims, a client without existing legal expenses funding or the money to investigate their claim, will need to find a solicitor willing to act on a “no win no fee” basis, backed by insurers to fund the initial medical expert reports.

Access to Justice Denied?

In many difficult cases, whilst a solicitor may be willing to act, an insurer is unlikely to back the case before receiving a positive medical opinion, so leaving the client with the choice of paying for expensive medical reports or abandoning their claim.  As a result, many clients injured by medical practitioners may be unable to pursue a claim which would currently be funded by Legal Aid, and so leave them without access to justice.

Child Birth Injury Exception

The only exception to the removal of Legal Aid for clinical negligence claims will be for children with a claim for neurological injury causing severe disability, where the clinical negligence occurred whilst they were in the womb, during birth or up to 8 weeks following birth.  As such claims are often worth many millions of pounds, politicians agreed these innocent victims should not be denied access to justice and so will still benefit from Legal Aid.

Head Injury UK

At Head Injury UK, due to our specialism in handling clinical negligence claims particularly those involving brain injury, we are often successful in securing supporting insurance to back “no win no fee” claims before obtaining supportive medical opinion, where Legal Aid is currently unavailable.  This however is not always the case, so we urge anyone who thinks they have a clinical negligence claim and may be eligible for Legal Aid to contact Clare Langford now, to discuss how we can help you, before Legal Aid is withdrawn.

 

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