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Proposed fixed fees for medical negligence claims
The proposed introduction of fixed fees for clinical negligence claims from October 2016, already referred to on this site, is widely thought to threaten access to justice but particularly so for cases which however justified are of a modest value, since the suggested fee maximum is so low that many injured patients will struggle to find solicitors to represent them.
Some readers may believe that (other than the Small Claims Court, which does not allow the successful party to claim costs from the unsuccessful one) the courts should not get clogged up with low-value cases.
Whether or not that is true, this situation will affect one category of claim disproportionately – where rather than being left injured, the patient dies from substandard care. Tozers handle many of these cases and it is obvious that they carry an emotional significance well beyond financial value.
The compensation figure may be surprising – for all the trauma, shock and upset of losing a loved one to negligence, the law has imposed a maximum of just £12,980. Further, it can only be claimed by a very limited group of people – the spouse or civil partner; and the parents if the deceased was aged under 18. No-one else is entitled to even this paltry amount. The Law Commission have often been asked to look at the principles and figures here but do not currently plan to do so.
Whatever anyone’s opinion on fixed fees for lawyers, it is improbable that they would support the situation which is very likely to arise after October – that it will simply become uneconomic to bring claims where, due to poor medical care, a patient including a baby or small child dies.
A Tozers Solicitors LLP we act for clients in Exeter, Devon, the South West and nationally. Should you or a family member wish to discuss a potential claim, please call our specialist team for a free and confidential consultation.