Public funding known as legal aid is still available for investigating and taking proceedings for certain medical negligence claims. For those cases that are eligible applicants must initially satisfy the financial requirements which are assessed by the DSS and take into account income and certain assets. A certificate may be granted to initially investigate the potential claim prior to a full certificate being granted for the issue of proceedings.
What needs doing?
The applicant may be required to make a weekly contribution to the cost of the legal proceedings or may be granted a certificate with no contribution. Once a determination of financial eligibility has been made, prior to legal aid being granted, it is necessary to satisfy the criteria outlined by the Legal Services Commission which includes:
- Cost-benefit Ratio compares the value of the claim with the anticipated legal costs and must satisfy the The Legal Services Commissions parameters.
- Cases with less than a 50% chance of success will be rejected unless they are of critical importance. Cases with very good prospects will succeed unless they are trivial.
- The Legal Services Commission must make a judgment about importance of the matter which might include consideration of the amount of potential damages and the consequences of failure to the applicant.
One of the most important benefits to consider relating to public funding is in regards to the legal costs incurred by the other side. If the claimant wins his case then he will, in addition to receiving compensation, also be paid his solicitors legal costs however conversely if he loses the case then he can expect a judge to order that he pays his opponents costs. It is possible to insure against this eventuality however if a claimant has public funding he cannot, except in certain unusual circumstances, be ordered to pay the opponents legal costs in the event of the case being lost. This is a substantial benefit conferred on a person who takes proceedings financed by public funding and effectively makes those proceedings risk free so far as the applicant is concerned.
There are other methods of financing clinical negligence claims including:
- No Win No Fee
Solicitors are entitled to draft their own conditional fee agreements however whilst they all follow similar general guidelines there can be and often are major differences between different legal firms agreements which should be carefully considered prior to signature
- Union Funding
Trades Unions often have funding arrangements for their members and will finance compensation claims. Prior to entering into a solicitors no win no fee agreement or applying for public funding union members should always enquire as to the availability of union funding.
Home insurance and other policies may cover taking action for medical negligence claims. All policies should be carefully considered.
We are a national network of advice workers who deal with medical negligence claims and we are all members of The Law Society panel of medical negligence experts. We are franchised to make an immediate application for legal aid for those cases that are eligible and meet the financial criteria. Contact us.