Settlement Delays for Victims of Clinical Negligence
18th April 2023
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has recently announced that over the past decade there has been a 43% increase in the length of time it takes NHS Resolution (NHSR) to settle Clinical Negligence (also known as Medical Negligence) claims.
APIL states that in 2011/12 clinical negligence claims were settled in an average of seventeen months. However, in 2021/22 this had increased to two years. This means that the average clinical negligence victim is waiting an extra seven months for their case to settle.
The longer the case goes on, the more legal fees that are incurred. Therefore, the increasing length of clinical negligence claims is likely playing an important role in pushing up legal costs. Legal costs for both the Defendant and Claimant could therefore be reduced if NHSR’s average settlement time could be reduced.
Individuals that have previously claimed compensation from the NHS already found that the process was lengthy and drawn out. APIL reports that negligence claims can be an “all-absorbing activity” as people often engage in time-consuming research about their condition or that of their child. The fact that claims are now taking considerably longer to settle, is therefore likely to compound and perpetuate this stressful time for victims of clinical negligence.
Settlement and compensation can provide closure for the victims of clinical negligence and may sometimes be perceived as recognition of the injustice they have experienced. Claimants may also need the compensation to help get their lives back on track. The impacts of negligence are wide-ranging and can include job loss, poor physical health, financial trouble, relationship breakdowns and a loss of self-identity and worth.
Financially, the compensation can help people to recuperate expenses or losses associated with direct costs, which can alleviate financial pressure. It may enable access to private treatments or alternative therapy to aid physical recovery, and to mitigate the long-term damage. Where a Claimant will not recover physically, the compensation can help people adapt their lives to live with their impairment and can help pay for home adaptations.
Although an interim payment can be requested if liability is admitted, this is not always possible, and a Claimant may have to wait until settlement to receive any financial compensation.
In addition, data from the Ministry of Justice shows that victims of negligence are experiencing record breaking Court delays. Since 2016, there has been a 41% increase in the average time it takes a fast or multi-track claim to reach trial. As a result, victims of clinical negligence are typically waiting an extra five months compared to six years ago.
Thankfully, in 2020/21, 74% of negligence claims were settled outside of Court. However, sometimes Court action remains necessary and causes further unwelcome delays.
We understand that a clinical negligence claim can be a lengthy and difficult time, but our Medical Negligence team are always here to help, keeping our clients informed and supported throughout the duration of their claim.
If you would like to discuss a potential claim, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team who will offer confidential and free initial advice.
Article written by Nancy Tebbutt