Medical Negligence Solicitors
Minton Morrill are the leading medical negligence solicitors in Leeds and the surrounding area with a recognised national presence in complex high value negligence cases. Our team of accredited and specialist lawyers offer a bespoke, personal and professional service to our clients.
We are passionate about improving patient safety within England and Wales by bringing sub-standard medical care to healthcare provider’s attention. Our goal in every case is to obtain the maximum level of compensation for our clients and help them to seek full and proper explanations if the care they have received falls short of expected standards.
What is Medical Negligence?
The NHS and other private healthcare organisations in England and Wales generally provide excellent medical care and treatment but, sometimes, standards slip and mistakes happen.
Medical negligence is essentially when the care provided by a healthcare professional falls below a reasonably accepted standard and leads to or causes a patient to suffer an avoidable injury. There are three key legal tests that determine whether a medical negligence claim can succeed:
- A duty of care was owed by the healthcare professional to the patient.
- The healthcare professional breached their duty of care to their patient because the treatment they provided fell below a reasonable standard expected of them.
- The substandard medical treatment caused or led the patient to suffer an injury that with better and reasonable medical care would have been avoided or lessened.
If these three tests can be established it is likely that a patient will be able to establish what lawyers call ‘liability’. Quantifying the extent of any injury, together with a patient’s losses as a result of this, is the next phase in pursuing medical negligence compensation.
Why Choose Us to Help?
When medical treatment goes wrong and causes injury and loss it is crucial to speak with professional and experienced medical negligence specialists.
The medical negligence team at Minton Morrill has this experience and its team of solicitors specialise solely in this complex area of law. Our team have more accredited panel members (5) on the AvMA and Law Society clinical negligence scheme than any other law firm handling clinical negligence claims in Leeds or surrounding area as well as a national presence acting for clients across the country such as Kent, Hampshire and Cumbria.
Lester Morrill solicitors merged with Mintons solicitors in December 2016 resulting in two powerhouses of medical negligence coming together to enhance the services they provide.
Our medical negligence team is top ranked in the Tier 1 category in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners annual reviews in recognition of their medical negligence work. The department is described as ‘an excellent niche firm that specialises in the most complex cases, including birth injury matters, fatal accidents, brain injury matters and cerebral palsy claims’.
The Minton Morrill medical negligence department is led by Simon Minton. Simon and Julia Morrill are both recognised as the only two Leading Individuals for clinical negligence in Leeds. The other department members: Sahida Patal and Guy Pomphrey all have a wealth of experience in this area of law. Speak to our team today to work towards succeeding with your claim.
Minton Morrill also has a Court of Protection department (led by Julia Morrill) to assist injured children and their families manage and access compensation money held by the Courts following the conclusion of successful medical negligence claims.
Over the past year our team of lawyers has settled a range of cases. Examples of medical negligence include:
- Settling four different £5 million pound plus birth injury cerebral palsy claims.
- Settling a birth injury cerebral palsy claimed in excess of £8 million.
- Working on settling a birth injury claim valued at just under £31 million.
- Settling a range of other claims including fatal claims for in excess of £275,000.
Medical negligence is extremely distressing for those directly affected and their families. We offer a bespoke and personal service to all of our clients because we recognise and understand how important it is for your case to be handled in a sensitive manner. We are not a “claims processing factory” and our team of solicitors only take on a smaller number of cases in order to be able to maintain the high client standards we set for ourselves.
We are passionate about patient safety and helping patients to obtain justice, compensation and answers if they have suffered injury from sub-standard medical treatment. We listen to our clients and they often tell us that an important part of pursuing a claim for compensation is to make sure no one else has to suffer from the same often avoidable mistakes. We want to help the NHS and other health organisations learn from and avoid these mistakes in future.
How common is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence claims are on the increase. In 2008, £583 million is reported to have been paid out in NHS in compensation. In 2015, this figure had increased to £1.4 billion.
Recent studies have shown that in many cases the same mistakes in medical treatment are being repeated leading to patients suffering avoidable injuries. Lessons are not being learnt.
What causes Medical Negligence?
There is no one answer to explain what causes medical negligence and why the numbers of medical negligence compensation claims for negligent treatment are increasing each year.
Poor training, fatigue, inability to deal with stressful situations and loss of concentration are often cited for individual healthcare professional’s mistakes and, at a wider organisational level, Hospital recruitment, policies, systems, resource allocation and a failure to learn lessons and feedback on mistakes are other examples our solicitors frequently encounter.
The increase in the population in England and Wales, an aging population (with more complex medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease) and more accurate recording of medical negligence mistakes may also explain why the numbers are increasing.
Examples of Medical Negligence
Medical negligence can and does occur in all areas of medicine and healthcare. The examples below are just a few areas that commonly result in compensation claims:
- Delay in diagnosis (cancer, stroke, heart and spinal problems, for example).
- Failure to refer a patient for investigation, particularly, from General Practitioners.
- Misdiagnosis leading to the wrong treatment (wrong medication, for instance)
- Inappropriate or poorly performed surgery.
- Birth injury claims to babies and/or their mothers.
- Fatal claims where a patient has died as a result of sub-standard care.
- Psychiatric claims (failure to correctly diagnose a treat a psychiatric condition)
- Failure to take proper consent from a patient for treatment.
The NHS also has a category of mistakes that should never happen, so called “never-events”. This consists of mistakes where the risk of them happening is so well known that proper planning and medical treatment should result in them never occurring. These include:
- wrong site surgery (left rather than right leg, for example);
- retained instruments post-surgery (swabs and scalpels for example)
- wrong route administration of chemotherapy for cancer;
- misplaced nasogastric or orogastric tube not detected prior to use;
- inpatient suicide using non-collapsible rails;
- escape from within the secure perimeter of medium or high-security mental health services by patients who are transferred;
- in-hospital maternal death from post-partum haemorrhage after elective caesarean section; and
- Intravenous administration of mis-selected concentrated potassium chloride.
Even though these “Never Events” are well known, between April 2016 and February 2017 it was reported that 380 “Never Events” occurred in Hospitals in England and Wales, including:
- 26 incidents of misplaced nasogastric or orogastric tubes;
- 29 cases of medicine being administered through the wrong route; and
- 95 incidents of foreign objects being left in a patient after surgery (broken drill, guide wire, cotton buds, and swabs).
Medical Negligence claims involving “Never Events” usually have strong prospects of success for the patient to recover compensation for an injury they may have sustained.
How much Compensation can you get for Medical Negligence in the UK?
The amount of compensation or damages received for a medical negligence claim depends on many factors including the severity of the injury sustained and how this affects a person with their activities of daily living. A child suffering from cerebral palsy with a long life expectancy is likely to receive more compensation for their extensive future care and support than, for example, an individual aged in their 80s with an avoidable leg injury because their life expectancy will be considerably less which influences the total compensation paid.
Our medical negligence lawyers will advise you on the level of compensation and the different types of damages awards a client is entitled to obtain for their avoidable injury.
If your claim is pursued through a No Win No Fee Agreement you will receive the majority of your compensation but you pay a success fee. See the FAQ on success fees below for more information on this.
Claimants funding their cases through Before the Event Insurance, Private Funding, Trade Union membership or Legal Aid should receive the bulk of their compensation and do not pay any success fee. Click for more information.
What are the Different Types of Damages Awards?
Lawyers generally divide compensation for medical negligence claims into two broad categories: general and special damages:
General damages compensate an individual for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity (enjoyment) that their avoidable injury has caused them. It is assessed by reference to set published Guidelines as well as Case Law. For example, general damages for an avoidable small burn to your leg might result in an award of £5,000 whereas a more severe burn to your leg may result in a higher award of £25,000.
Special damages are for all of the past and future quantifiable losses that an individual and their family may have suffered as a result of an avoidable injury. There are numerous examples but the following heads of loss are usually considered:
- Professional paid care and support (past and future);
- Gratuitous Care and Support provided to the injured person by their family;
- Loss of Earnings / Bonus / Promotion;
- Disadvantage on the Open Labour Market as a result of an injury;
- Cost of Future Treatment (surgery, medication, physiotherapy)
- Cost of adaption to the home (or a new home if appropriate)
- Cost of transport needs (adaptions to an existing or a new car)
- Cost of Assisted Technology (computers to assist with communication)
- Case Manager (an individual organising an injured persons care diary) costs
- Court of Protection Costs (especially with child claims or vulnerable adults)
Examples of Successful Compensation Claims:
Other than the cases outlined earlier on this page, other examples of successful compensation claims include:
- £200,000 awarded to a young girl following a misdiagnosis of appendicitis, which left her unable to have children.
- £50,000 awarded to a woman who developed deep-vein thrombosis after a knee operation. The DVT went unnoticed and untreated for almost three weeks, resulting in severe and permanent pain.
- £400,000 awarded to the children of a woman who committed suicide as a result of failings in local psychiatric care.
- £300,000 awarded to the husband of a lady who died as a result of the failure to identify, diagnose and treat cancer which spread leading to her avoidable death.
- £50,000 awarded to the mother of a child who suffered a stillbirth because of multiple failings in her antenatal care which led her to suffer a psychiatric injury.
What are the time limits to pursue a Medical Negligence claim?
Time limits are very important in medical negligence claims. Click here to read our dedicated page on limitation. The time limits are different for adults and children:
Adults with mental capacity to litigate generally have 3 years from the date of the negligent treatment to issue a Medical Negligence claim at Court to protect the claim from being statute barred. This is because the Limitation Act directs that once 3 years have lapsed the Defendant can use limitation as a defence to a claim even if the claim is otherwise strong.
If, for example, John suffers an injury to his back following spinal surgery on 15 June 2017 he would have until 14 June 2020 to lodge the claim at Court to protect pursuing it.
The exception to the 3 years time limit is the date of knowledge rule. If a patient does not become aware that they have suffered an avoidable injury for some time after the negligent treatment then it is the date when they acquire the knowledge of this that triggers the 3 years limitation period beginning.
Using John again as an example, if following his spinal surgery on 15 June 2017, he did not acquire the knowledge that he had suffered an avoidable injury to his back as a result of suspected sub-standard treatment until 1 December 2017, the limitation period would be 3 years from 1 December 2017 (expiring on 1 December 2020) rather than the date of surgery.
The traditional 3 year limitation period does not apply to children until they reach the age of 18 years old. On turning 18, they then have 3 years to lodge a claim with the Court. This means that the usual cut off limitation period for children is their 21st birthday. For example, Wendy undergoes spinal surgery aged 9. Concerns are raised about the competency of the surgery. Wendy would have until she turned 21 to issue the claim protectively at Court.
How Long Does a Medical Negligence Claim Take?
The length of a medical negligence claim depends on the type of injury sustained.
Cases involving children, for example, may take considerable time, in the region of years, particularly if we need to assess how they develop, as they get older.
Cases involving injuries to adults can often settle more quickly than child claims but this is again dependent on the type of injury sustained. Generally, the more complex the injury, the longer the time required to conclude the case.
If the Defendant health care provider admits substandard medical care caused or led to an injury and loss, or a Court itself finds fault at trial, the case will then focus on how much compensation should be paid. Once this is agreed, compensation is usually paid out to you.
If, however, the negligence case involves a child or there is a pressing need for financial support (to pay for care or treatment needs, for example) an interim payment of damages can be requested from the Defendant at an earlier stage in the litigation following a full admission of liability for sub-standard medical care.
Mental Capacity to Litigate
For both adults and children the traditional limitation period only runs if they have mental capacity to litigate. Our expert lawyers can advise on what constitutes mental capacity and it may be that we need to obtain the opinion of a psychiatrist to back up and support this view.
If an individual does not have mental capacity to litigate, for example, they are unable to understand legal advice or take decisions, the limitation timeframes are not applied. This can become complex if a person’s mental capacity changes over time so if you are in any doubt it is best to ask our team of clinical negligence solicitors in Leeds and obtain advice early to avoid any issues.
By way of example, Billy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen starvation at birth. He is severally disabled because of this with a major brain injury. He does not have mental capacity to litigate so the usual limitation period does not expire on his 21st birthday.
In exceptional circumstances a claim may be able to be pursued even if the limitation period has expired but this is very rare. The best option is to speak to our solicitors as early as you possibly can and even if you think you have missed limitation seek our expert advice.
How to choose my Medical Negligence Solicitor?
We want you to choose the right solicitor. We are experts in medical negligence claims and have been recognised for this level of expertise and specialism. Other than reading through our website and speaking with one of our lawyers the most important research steps you can take to choose your medical negligence solicitor are:
- Check for recognised firm wide accreditations such as Lexcel.
- Check that the medical negligence team have affiliations and accreditations with the specialist charity AvMA and the Law Society’s clinical negligence scheme.
- Make sure you speak with a qualified and experienced solicitor from your first call.
Minton Morrill holds Lexcel accreditation meaning that it has been assessed as providing excellence in legal management and client care. Our specialist medical negligence department also has 5 accredited panel members on the AvMA and Law Society clinical negligence scheme; more than any other medical negligence firm in the area. Finally, our team of medical negligence lawyers will handle your first enquiry. We do not use non-qualified call handlers or paralegals because we recognise your time is precious and if you are calling us for advice about a claim you deserve to speak to our experts straight away.
What do you Need to Prove to Win a Medical Negligence Claim?
To succeed with a medical negligence claim you will need to prove that the care you received fell below a reasonable standard and this poor or lack of care led to you suffering an avoidable injury that has caused you to suffer losses. At Minton Morrill, we instruct leading independent medical experts to report on the care provided. These independent experts assess the standard of medical care provided and if this has fallen below a reasonable standard, they will assess whether it led to an avoidable injury.
Click here for more information on how your case will be pursued or see the 'Liability' section below for more details on the type of proof you typically need to win a case.
What happens when pursuing a Medical Negligence Claim?
Medical negligence claims are usually investigated in distinct stages.
The first stage in a medical negligence compensation claim is to examine the treatment a patient has received and to assess with independent medical experts whether this was sub-standard and, if so, whether this led to or caused an avoidable injury. To illustrate how this works, we have set out an overview of the key stages of a clinical negligence claim:
- Obtain all relevant medical records (GP, Hospital and radiological records).
- Take a detailed witness statement from the patient setting out what happened.
- Instruct an independent medical expert(s) to report on the care provided.
- Meet with you to review the expert report and to advise on what this says.
- Instruct a specialist Medical Negligence barrister to review the case and, where appropriate, hold a Conference with the barrister and expert to test the evidence.
- If the expert report is supportive of sub-standard care, notify the Defendant of your intention to pursue a claim by way of a formal Letter of Claim.
Once a Letter of Claim is served, the Defendant has 4 months to formally respond to the allegations of sub-standard treatment. If they admit they are liable for injury caused by sub-standard care we will proceed to examine how much compensation you should receive. If they dispute liability without a valid reason we would usually issue the claim at Court and work towards a Court trial to determine liability. Even though Defendants do not always admit liability for all cases at the start most medical negligence cases settle before Court trial.
Quantification of damages
If the Defendant admits liability or a Court finds in favour of the patient at trial we will need to investigate how much compensation the injured patient should receive. This is again a complex process because your solicitor’s job is to make sure that the injured person receives sufficient compensation for the losses they have sustained to date (loss of earnings, cost of private treatment and care etc) as well as assessing their future needs and losses which may be complicated by changes in their condition and their future prognosis. The main steps that should be taken in this quantum stage are likely to include:
- Obtaining updated medical records.
- Taking a detailed witness statement from the injured patient and/or their family, friends, employer about how their injury has affected them and their care needs.
- Instructing an independent expert to examine the patient and report on their injury and their likely needs, support and losses for the present and also in the future.
- Meeting with the patient to discuss the expert(s) report.
- Prepare a detailed Schedule of Loss setting out all the different heads of loss.
- Instruct a specialist Medical Negligence barrister to review the Schedule of Loss.
- Liaise with the Defendant about settlement of the claim.
Our specialist clinical negligence solicitors are familiar with the solicitors regularly instructed by the Defendants and we have good relationships with one another. This does often result in helpful discussion about settlement but in the cases where agreement cannot be reached between the legal teams it may be that the Court is required to assess the level of compensation to be paid to the injured patient by way of a Court trial. A trial on clinical negligence compensation is again rare but it does happen and our team of medical negligence solicitors in Leeds have experience of going to trial and obtaining excellent settlement results.
What is the Pre-Action Protocol for Medical Negligence?
The Courts in England and Wales encourage parties to try and resolve medical negligence disputes without the need for Court involvement. The Pre-Action Protocol sets out a series of steps that the parties should take to help with this.
First, the Defendant should provide copies of a patient’s medical records in a timely manner so that the Claimant (you) can investigate what has happened. It is likely that we will then instruct independent medical experts to report on the standard of care you have received and, if they are critical about this, we will proceed to serve the Defendant with a formal Letter of Claim. The Defendant then has 4 months, under the Pre-Action Protocol, to investigate allegations of poor care within the Letter of Claim and send a formal reply called the Letter of Response.
If the Defendant disputes liability and we disagree with their reasons, the Claimant can then issue the Claim at Court because they have fully explored the possibility of early resolution of the dispute through the Pre-Action Protocol.
How Many Medical Negligence Claims go to Court?
Every clinical negligence claim has the potential to go to Court and specifically to a trial but the majority of cases we deal with settle before or “Out of Court”.
If your case does go to trial we have the experience and expertise to guide you through the process and will be with you each step of the way.
What is No Win No Fee?
If a client has no insurance or no other way to fund a medical negligence investigation we can offer a No Win No Fee Agreement. This type of Agreement means that we will only be paid our legal costs if the claim succeeds; if the case is unsuccessful, we will not be paid anything. To reflect the risk that we might not get paid for the legal work we do, we charge a Success Fee if the case succeeds.
If your case succeeds, you pay the success fee and the Defendant pays your legal costs. If your claim is unsuccessful, you pay nothing.
What is the Success Fee for Medical Negligence?
In 2013 the Government introduced a new rule that if a Claimant wins their case under a No Win No Fee Agreement they pay their solicitor a small proportion of their compensation to reflect the risk that if the case is not successful the solicitor is paid nothing. Before April 2013, the Defendant paid this success fee.
Compensation (or damages) is split into different categories. The success fee is capped at 25% of General Damages and Past Losses. It excludes Future Losses.
Here is an example with the two key success fee rules:
- Mr A receives £100,000 in compensation as a result of sub-standard care during a surgical procedure leaving him unable to return to work.
He receives the following damages:
- General Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £20,000
- Past Losses for loss of earnings, expenses and family care: £10,000
- Future Losses for predicted loss of earnings and care needs: £70,000
The total success fee here is 25% of £30,000 amounting to £7,500 (incl VAT)
- The success can never be more than 100% of legal costs.
Mr B’s family receive £100,000 as a result of his death from sub-standard medical care. His Estate & family receive the following damages:
- General Damages for Mr B’s pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £45,000
- Past Losses for his loss of earnings, expenses and family care: £35,000
- Future losses for loss of dependency on Mr B: £15,000
The success fee is 25% of £80,000 amounting to £20,000; however, legal costs are £17,500 so the success fee is reduced to £17,500 (incl VAT)
Do you need ATE Insurance for a Medical Negligence Claim?
We recommend that clients pursuing medical negligence claims with a No Win No Fee Agreement have an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy in place. This insurance protects you in the event that the claim is unsuccessful and covers disbursements and, if the claim proceeds to Court, the Defendant’s legal costs.
Disbursements include, for example, the cost of obtaining your medical records, independent expert medical reports and Court fees. We usually fund these for you during your litigation although sometimes clients will pay for some of these.
In UK litigation, the unsuccessful party pays the winning parties costs. If cases proceed beyond the Pre-Action Protocol, it is essential that Claimants have insurance protection against this risk.
You will not pay anything for the After the Event insurance unless your claim is successful, in which case, you will pay the insurance premium cost at the end of the claim. This insurance is usually only needed with No Win No Fee funding.
We can obtain competitive insurance on your behalf from a reputable insurer and do not receive any fee for doing so.
Paying for your Case
As stated above, we offer No Win No Fee Agreements to a large number of our clients. This type of funding means that we are only paid for the time investigating your case if you win your medical negligence claim. If you do not win your case, we do not get paid anything and, importantly, you do not have to pay us anything.
Aside from No Win No Fee Agreements, we are often instructed to act through a client’s Legal Expenses insurance (typically through Car or Home insurance) or Trade Union cover.
For children claims, in particular, there is also Legal Aid public funding but this is strictly limited and only available when a young child has suffered a brain injury before they are born or within 2 months of their birth that has resulted in them suffering a severe disability.
An Application for Legal Aid public funding does not need to be submitted within 2 months of a child’s birth and there is nothing to stop a teenager, for example, pursuing Legal Aid funding so long as the brain injury they sustained occurred within these timeframes.
We are very happy to discuss how to pay for your case by telephone. If you have queries then please do get in touch with us and we can explain how the case can be funded.
On your Side
We are passionate about our medical negligence cases and proud of the work we do by helping injured people obtain justice and compensation to help them carry on living full lives. Having worked with hundreds of claimants over the years, we know the difference proper redress and compensation can make to people’s lives. This can range from freeing families from the financial strains and pressures of full-time care of a loved one to enabling a severely disabled child to access outdoor adapted activities and crucial social interaction.
You can be confident that in choosing our team of medical negligence solicitors to act for you will obtain the best possible outcome if you have sustained sub-standard medical care. We are on your side from the beginning of your claim to its conclusion.
If you, or someone you know, has been affected by medical negligence and would like to speak with a member of the Minton Morrill medical negligence team, please call on 0113 245 8549 or contact us by filling in the form below.