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Questions to ask your solicitor
Medical negligence cases are complex, usually hard-fought by the opponent and require specialist skills and experience to secure a successful outcome.
It is vital therefore that when you are selecting a solicitor to represent you opt for one who has the necessary expertise. This is important not just to ensure that your case is successful, but also so that you receive the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to and do not lose out financially.
However sadly there are non-specialist firms who advertise for cases despite not having valid experience, or the necessary skills, qualifications and accreditations. As all the solicitors at JMW specialise in the field and have done for many years we have put together a guide to choosing right solicitor for people who have been affected by medical errors.
All patients and families who are thinking of making a claim should ask the solicitors they enquire with the questions below to find out if they truly specialise in medical negligence before instructing them.
1. Do you only deal with cases of clinical negligence?
While many firms, including JMW, are ‘full service’ and offer a broad spectrum of legal services any that claim to specialise in medical negligence will have a team or department that is completely dedicated to this area of law.
The medical negligence department at JMW only deals with cases on behalf of patients and their families and all our specialist solicitors never work on any other type of claim, such as personal injury. Make this your first question when thinking of instructing a solicitor on a claim and the answer should help you to identify if you speaking to someone with genuine expertise in this complex area of law.
2. Have you successfully settled any clinical/medical negligence cases?
Experience is vital as there are many complicated and technical aspects of claims that require careful management. Check that your solicitor has successfully settled other claims and ask for details on the amount of compensation their team has secured on cases and the number and types of cases that your potential solicitor has personally settled.
The solicitors at JMW have decades of experience between them and have successfully settled thousands of claims. However not all firms in the marketplace have this extensive experience and without asking this question a client may not realise they are in the wrong hands.
3. Has your team dealt with cases like mine before?
This is another key question to ask before instructing a solicitor as having experience of similar claims within the team can make the difference between success and failure for the case. It will also mean that your solicitor understands what you are going through, the challenges you are facing and can empathise with your situation more easily. This can be very important on medical negligence cases as they can be stressful for clients and having a solicitor who understands your problems can lift the burden.
The chances are, if they are a specialist team such as the one at JMW, they will have dealt with similar cases before. If they have not then take care to research their experience thoroughly before instructing them and shop around if you have any doubts.
4. Will I be able to deal with my solicitor directly?
At JMW we find that our clients enjoy the reassurance that comes from being able to speak to their solicitor directly whenever they have a question or query about their case. In our team, the solicitor who takes on your case will have a hands-on approach from day 1 and will be the one managing it and ensuring it progresses without delay. This means our clients have a named solicitor who they can go to if they need to check anything or just need a bit of support.
However at some firms the solicitor who initially takes on the case will not have day-to-day involvement in it and will merely check on progress from time-to-time. If you would find this approach concerning it is worth checking at the outset how your case would be managed, how much involvement your solicitor would have and if you will be able to contact them whenever you need to.
5. Are your solicitors members of any leading clinical/medical negligence
A key sign that you are dealing with a specialist firm is if they have solicitors who are on the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel. This accreditation is only awarded to solicitors who can prove they have extensive skills and experience in the field, such as several members of
the JMW team.
Other checks to make include asking if the firm is ranked in legal industry bibles Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 and if they are on the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) referral panel. If they do not then you might not be speaking to a specialist firm and you might be taking a risk by instructing them.
The specialist solicitors at JMW rank highly in Chambers and the Legal 500 and are approved by AvMA to act for clients that seek help from them.