For a number of years the victims of medical accidents or negligence have been able to call upon a dedicated and specialist group of solicitors capable of handling their claims with the necessary expertise required in what can be a very complex area of law. These lawyers have also gained years of experience in being able to sensitively handle cases which often the clients find very difficult to pursue. Although these specialised solicitors remain, changes in the law brought about on 1st April 2013 have dramatically increased the number of solicitors providing representation in this area.
Prior to 1st April 2013 Legal Aid was available for victims of medical negligence subject to financially eligibility. (It is now only available for birth injury cases) Quite rightly the Legal Aid Agency, which runs legal aid, insisted the solicitors undertaking the work should demonstrate that they were skilled and competent in this very specialised area. As well as being regularly audited this also included the requirement that the representatives from the firm providing the service were accredited on one or more of two specialist clinical negligence panels administered by The Law Society and AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents).
With the demise of Legal Aid in this area solicitors without the necessary experience and accreditations have now begun to aggressively advertise to undertake this form of work.
Early signs are that many firms who have entered the market this year are failing to demonstrate an understanding of the nature of clinical negligence claims. I have even received telephone calls myself from solicitors without the necessary expertise asking for my advice on how they should approach cases. Extremely worrying to say the very least.
It is so important that a victim of medical negligence seeking redress instructs a specialist solicitor with the appropriate accreditations to either The Law Society or AvMA. That way the client can be guaranteed access to specialist knowledge and experience that will ensure the claim is thoroughly and expertly investigated on their behalf.
You only get one chance at bringing a claim of this nature so it is important that you get the best possible representation.