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Why do some claims take months to settle?
Needless delays are not in the interest of any of the parties involved in a claim for clinical negligence, but a claimant will face necessary periods of waiting between an injury being suffered and a settlement or an appearance in court.
In some cases, a necessary cause may be long-term uncertainty regarding the results of medical negligence such as birth injury, surgical accident or another incident. If the prognoses for a condition are uncertain, it is often wise, or even necessary, to let the situation become clearer before a reliable estimate of the appropriate levels of compensation for the case can be made.
It is important to remember that this does not mean that a person affected by a potential case of negligence should avoid contacting a lawyer while the prognosis remains uncertain; conditions regarding time limits for civil claims still apply, so the initial stages, at least, should be brought within the appropriate period, which may be three years from the incident.
Before a claim moves to formal legal proceedings, mediation may be undertaken; while successful mediation may lead to a fast result, failure will mean that the time spent in mediation will have extended the duration of the process as the claim goes into the court system.
Once the case moves to formal proceedings, establishing the particulars and securing the medical body's response in defence can take several months. This should not be thought of as a delay; it is an essential part of the process and as such should not be rushed.
It is likely that a claim will need to call expert witnesses. These are people who are likely to have busy schedules, particularly if their opinion is sought on many matters, which becomes more probable the more highly they are esteemed. A case may find itself, therefore, dependent on an expert's calendar for its progression. The schedules of a court will also influence the duration of a case.
Under the leadership of partners Eddie Jones, the Clinical Negligence department of JMW Solicitors is able to advise on all aspects of the process, including their likely duration. The department offers the experience and expertise to ensure that all cases proceed as quickly as is possible, and provides sensitive support to all clients.