How long does a medical negligence claim take?

Reviewed by
Georgia Briscoe, Director of Medical Neglience

The reality is, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. As legal specialists, it is our duty to be transparent and upfront about the process behind making a claim. A medical negligence claim can take upwards of 18 months to settle, dependant on the complexity of the case.

In fact, even in cases where there are similarities, complications and objections can and do arise. As negligence claims specialists, this is where we come into our own. If you are looking to make a claim, be sure to talk your case through with a law firm that has recognised experience and proven success.

Here we highlight the difference in settlement time between a straightforward and more complex medical negligence case; using real case examples settled by our dedicated, expert team.

 

Will my claim take long?

Once we have taken on your negligence claim, one thing you can be assured of is that you’re in good hands.

Whether you’re making a claim against an individual, such as a surgeon or your GP, or you’re desperately unhappy with the aftercare you received following an operation; whatever your circumstances, we will work effectively to secure the justice you deserve.

In terms of ‘how long does it take to settle?’ This can and does vary based on:

  • Your claim type
  • The amount of supporting evidence you have
  • Medical witnesses
  • Any photographic and written evidence

Stage One: As general practice, your Patient Claim Line legal representative will declare a formal notification of your claim with the practitioner or medical body responsible.

Stage Two: The specific medical body or individual will have 14 days to acknowledge your claim.

Stage Three: Most medical negligence claims settle before there’s any chance of going to court. However, once a case is opened, there is still a chance that it can end in court proceedings.

But you don’t need to worry about this . All our legal representatives are fully trained and experienced when operating in the court room and can guide you through the process if required.

 

Timescale for a straightforward medical negligence case

Client example one

Final Settlement: £23,000

Time frame: The below case only took 12-14 months to reach a final settlement.

The case:

In January 2019, our client attended Bolton NHS Foundation Trust via ambulance with an acute onset of pain and swelling to his left testicle.

He had suffered previous episodes of pain but this pain was different. He was diagnosed with the condition varicocele which is an abnormal network of veins around the testicle which sometimes can cause pain, and he was discharged several hours later.

The next morning, he called an ambulance as he remained in severe pain. He was then transferred to another hospital for treatment.

He was diagnosed with testicular torsion and had to undergo removal of the testicle which had since died. Had he been operated on on his first attendance, his testicle would more than likely have been saved.

Jennifer Argent, the Medical Negligence solicitor involved in this case said:

“This is a case that is surprisingly common, considering an acute onset of testicular pain in a man under 30 should automatically generate suspicion of testicular torsion.”

“A simple procedure to rotate the testicle could have been carried out, however, this gentleman had to undergo a removal of the testicle.”

“At this stage he opted not to have a prosthetic inserted, but should he wish to in the future, it will require surgery that could have been avoided.”

“He missed time from his studies at university as a sports student and he was clearly in severe pain, having called an ambulance on two occasions. Thankfully in this case the hospital admitted their error and engaged proactively in settlement discussions.”

 

Timescale for more complex medical negligence cases

Client example two

Final Settlement: Gross c £7-8 million split into lump sum of £1.55 million and 3 stage PPO

The time frame: The below example took eight years to reach a final settlement due to the complexity of the case.

The case:

In July 2012, our client suffered symptoms similar to a stroke with facial weakness and disorientating dizziness. He attended a local accident and emergency department and was investigated for only 17 days, including CT and MRI scanning.

It was at this point it was determined our client had suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage, and it would only be a matter of time before it killed him.

In view of the circumstances, our client immediately married his long-term partner and he was consequently discharged for palliative care.

Within two days of being at home, the neurological specialist hospital determined our client was actually suffering from an abscess in the brain, rather than a haemorrhage.

He was re-admitted to hospital and the abscess was drained.

Proving negligence:

This client’s medical negligence claim was about proving the delay in recognising the abscess had caused our client irreparable harm.

Our senior solicitor, Trevor Ward, identified the delay as a significant period. Within that 12 days, our client had suffered a deteriorating left-sided weakness and visual field loss that was unrecoverable.

In addition, our client:

  • Has been unable to return to work or drive
  • Requires permanent daily care and support from various specialist therapists

Both hospitals admitted a breach of duty of care but denied causation of any injury; stating that the nature of the outcome was inevitable.

What is significant here is that the defendant did not deny acting on behalf of the claimant and his best interests, so our legal team needed to seek a range of expert opinion, and this takes time.

In Trevor’s efforts to seek justice, he spoke to a range of expert medical professionals including;

  • Neurosurgeons
  • Neuro ophthalmologists
  • Neuro radiologists
  • Neuro rehabilitation experts
  • Neuro physiotherapists
  • Occupational therapists

A joint settlement meeting took place in 2018.

Unfortunately, this did not resolve the case and we continued with formal proceedings in the High Court.

A final negotiated settlement reached and Ordered by the court in September 2019.

As in all complex medical cases, delays are inevitable. It is necessary to properly evaluate the claimant’s condition and prognosis through a number of specialist experts.

 

Client example three

Final settlement: £350,000

The below case took four years to reach a final settlement due to the complexity of the case.

The Case:

In 2007, our client began to develop symptoms relating to Multiple Sclerosis.

He was diagnosed and his condition deteriorated, so that by 2014 he was wheelchair bound.

Our client had a progressive type of Multiple Sclerosis, although he remained particularly independent in his day-to-day living with only the assistance of district nurses in relation to his catheter care.

However, a breach of duty of the defendant’s community carers meant that he developed severe pressure sores on his right buttock and ankles. In August 2015, he was admitted to hospital until his discharge in February 2016.

As a result of such considerable immobilisation, our client became deconditioned, suffering muscle spasms and contractures in his lower limbs, along with an ongoing high-risk buttock pressure sore.

As such, he was no longer independent and required an extensive package of pressure sore care and equipment.

Proving negligence:

Following our instruction in 2016, breach of duty was admitted but causation denied.

Senior solicitor, Trevor Ward and his team, commissioned evidence from specialist nurses, therapists and a neuro rehabilitation specialist, along with a tissue viability nurse, before commencing proceedings in the early part of 2019.

However, Trevor and his medical negligence team managed to negotiate that mediation should take place with without the prejudice exchange of expert evidence. This was to see if an early resolution could be reached, rather than proceeding to trial, which was listed to take place in July 2021.

After a long day of mediation, our client received a suitable settlement for his medical negligence claim.

 

Will my medical negligence claim be settled in court?

With any claim we accept, if those responsible for your negligence deny any wrongdoing, we’ll weigh up whether the best course of action is proceeding to court.

Specialist litigators, such as Trevor & Jennifer, hold a wealth of experience and are incredibly adept at presenting a strong case in the court room, so, if your case does go to court there’s absolutely no need to worry.

If your case proceeds to court, here we will present documentation and evidence, such as:

  • Medical reports
  • Witness statements
  • Receipt of communication
  • Prescription notes etc.

However, your claim is likely to settle before reaching trial.

 

Make your no win no fee medical negligence claim

When it comes to confirming if you have a case for medical negligence, finding out is free, and it won’t cost you a penny to make your claim.

We also appreciate you’ll be anxious about how long your medical negligence claim will take.

By contacting our team today, you’ll make the first step in what could turn out to be a journey towards receiving justice.

Get your claim moving in the right direction and contact Patient Claim Line today. Call 0330 107 5326

 

Meet the team

Adrian Denson
Chief Legal Officer

Adrian joined us in December 2011 as Head of Serious Injury, leading the department through a period of significant growth, whilst working with customers following catastrophic and life changing events. In spring 2017, Adrian was appointed our Chief Legal Officer and oversees all of our legal teams, ensuring our customers are always at the heart of everything we do. Adrian has been named in the Legal 500 as one of the top 10 leading individuals for personal injury in the North West for the second year running.

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Georgia Briscoe
Director of Medical Negligence

Georgia is the Head of Medical Negligence and has an impressive wealth of knowledge. She has over 15 years of legal experience and is responsible for overseeing the whole medical negligence team. Within her role, Georgia ensures that all of our cases are dealt with the utmost efficiency and professionalism.

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Peter Rigby
Director of Medical Negligence Serious Injury

Peter is dedicated to supporting victims of catastrophic medical negligence injuries and endeavours to provide a clear and coherent approach to claims. He recognises the effects serious injuries can have and therefore ensures his customers’ need for support is met. Peter also has a vast amount of experience working with customers who have been injured abroad and is able to act under international law to provide the best outcomes.

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Christian Beadell
Head of Medical Negligence Fast Track

Christian is Head of Medical Negligence Fast Track at Fletchers and has specialised in clinical negligence claims since qualifying in 1997; having dealt with a wide variety of claims throughout his career. He is also featured in the Legal 500 as a recommended claimant solicitor in the North West.

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Sarah's Story

"Now we have peace of mind"

My husband, Nick, went back and forth to the doctors for a long time and tried everything the doctor recommended. But his illness got worse, to the point that he was in agony.

In the end we got so desperate that we asked for a referral. The doctor was reluctant, so we had to consult a private hospital. That’s when we found out there was a tumour. It took years from the onset of his illness to finally start cancer treatment.

He used to be a man with a lot to live for, but in the end he was in so much pain that he withdrew from the family. He became angry that nobody had helped him sooner, and the legal team were able to give him the validation that he was desperately seeking. The NHS confirmed if they had done more, Nick would still be alive today.