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An Interview with Liz Fry – Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Posted on May 30th 2019

Liz Fry

Being ill or injured is stressful enough but when a medical professional lets you down, it can be difficult to know who to turn to for help.

Liz Fry is a Solicitor who specialises in helping people who have been injured at the hands of a medical professional, be it a doctor, nurse, dentist, pharmacist or paramedic. Liz has experience in a wide variety of claims, including orthopaedic injuries, dental claims, pharmacy dispensing errors, surgical errors, birth injuries to the mother, cosmetic surgery claims, claims against nurses and claims against GPs.

This week Liz is hosting a question and answer session on Chester’s Dee 106.3 radio station. We sat down with Liz to ask her some pertinent questions in relation to clinical negligence and here are her answers:

What is a clinical negligence claim?

Clinical negligence claims can be brought where it is alleged that a medical professional has done something wrong. This covers hospital doctors, GPs, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, nursing homes and more.

To bring a successful clinical negligence claim, we need to overcome two main hurdles:-

1. Breach of duty. We need to prove that the medical professional followed a course of action which would not be supported by a reasonable body of medical opinion. In other words, they did something that no other reasonable doctor/ nurse etc would have done.

2. Causation. We also need to prove that the substandard treatment caused or materially contributed to a different outcome which would not have happened but for the negligent treatment. In other words, the patient has suffered as a result of the breach of duty.

How long do I have to make a claim?

For clinical negligence claims, the time limit for bringing a claim at Court is three years. This either runs from the date of the negligent treatment, or the date that you became aware that you had suffered negligent care.

This is slightly different if the injured person is a minor. If you were under 18 at the time of the negligent care, this time limit would extend until your 21st birthday.

What can I claim for?

You can claim compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and out of pocket expenses, for example care and assistance (whether paid for or more likely provided by friends and family), medical expenses, travel expenses, loss of earnings and more.

The aim of compensation claims is to put you into the position that you would have been in but for the negligent treatment, as far as possible.

What can Oliver & Co offer for somebody who suspects they may have a clinical negligence claim?

We offer free initial, no obligation advice as to whether or not you have a potential clinical negligence claim. Just give us a call or come to see us at our office in Chester.

We then discuss potential claims in team meetings. Our team compromises of specialist clinical negligence solicitors, as well as our Head of Department Linda Schermer, who is dual qualified as both a doctor and a solicitor. This specialist knowledge provides us with a unique insight into both the medical and legal aspects of assessing a potential claim.

If we can help you with a claim, one of our specialist team will call you and discuss the next steps.

If we cannot help you with a compensation claim, we also offer free of charge help with drafting a letter of complaint.

What makes Oliver & co different from other solicitors?

Linda is dual qualified as a doctor and a solicitor so is able to provide medical input whenever needed, for example at the initial enquiry stage, when we have received medical records or if the doctor denies liability.

We regularly take on claims that other law firms have turned down or when a patient has complained and been told that their treatment was reasonable; and we win them.

For example, I won a claim for a client who had obtained an unsupportive expert report with another solicitor; I instructed the right expert and asked the right questions and the client received thousands of pounds of compensation.

How much will pursuing a claim cost me?

There are several methods of funding a claim but the most common in my experience is a no win, no fee agreement, known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA.

There is nothing to pay up front or during the claim and if you lose the claim, you don’t pay anything at all, as long as you have co-operated with us.

If you win the claim, you are guaranteed to keep at least 75% of your compensation, with the remaining 25% paying for insurance and legal costs that can’t be recovered from the Defendant.

Some firms ask for money up front to pay for insurance or expert reports but we don’t ask for any money up front.

Some firms take the cost of insurance out of your compensation in addition to deducting 25% but we guarantee that you will keep at least 75% of your compensation.

What sort of claims do you deal with?

We have experience of a wide range of claims, including:
Birth injury – to mum or baby
Missed fractures
Cosmetic surgery
Dental negligence
Pressure sores in hospital or in a nursing home
Missed or late diagnosis, for example the serious heart infection called endocarditis or cancer
Medication errors, be it by a pharmacist or hospital
Surgical errors

What if my claim is sensitive?

We are very used to talking about sensitive matters and we will seek to put you at ease. Whether it is a loved one who has died or a very private matter, we will do our best to ensure that you feel comfortable talking to us so that you can obtain the advice you need.

Chances are, it is something that we have dealt with before as our team is very experienced.

What are the main steps taken in a claim?

All claims are different but the usual process is:

1. Discuss within our team whether we can help you
2. If we can help you, we will put funding in place with no upfront costs to you
3. We will obtain your medical records
4. We will then review your records with Linda to gain the benefit of her medical knowledge
5. We will take a witness statement from you, giving you your chance to tell your story; the records only tell half the story. This can be done by phone or in person
6. Obtain a report from an independent expert, eg a GP/ hospital doctor or nurse. Sometimes several reports are needed from different experts but no matter how many experts you need, you do not need to pay for the reports upfront.
7. We will value the claim
8. We would send a letter of claim setting out the allegations against the Defendant and making an offer to settle the claim
9. We would then consider the Defendant’s reply to our allegations.
If they admit liability, we would seek to negotiate settlement to achieve the maximum possible compensation for you.
If they deny liability, we would usually have a meeting with you, the expert and a barrister to discuss the claim and then we would instruct the barrister to draft the formal Court papers.

What is the highest compensation your firm has achieved?

Linda, our dual qualified doctor and solicitor, successfully pursued a claim that resulted in our client receiving a lump sum of over 5 million pounds as well as annual payments of over £300,000

What should I do if I think I’ve got a claim?

If you think you have a potential clinical negligence claim, please visit our website or give us a call on 01244 354 688 for free initial advice.

 

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