Clinical negligence claims: when should I seek a second opinion?
It is widely acknowledged that clinical negligence claims are complex to investigate, which is why it is advisable to instruct a specialist clinical negligence solicitor to pursue your case.
Partly because of their inherent complexity it is not always possible to say with any certainty at the outset that you will be successful with your claim. All sorts of things can happen along the way that mean your case has to be abandoned, either before or after the issue of court proceedings. Disputes of fact may become insurmountable once certain records or documents are disclosed, an expert may be unsupportive or may change their view during the case, and parts of or even all of the case may fall away due to judicial decisions.
What should you do if you are advised that you have a potential claim which can be no longer be pursued?
The most important thing is to make sure that your solicitor fully explains the reasons why your claim no longer has sufficient merits to continue. If you are satisfied with that explanation and feel reassured that all necessary steps have been taken you may choose to accept that advice and agreed to abandon the claim.
What should you do if you still have concerns, and would like to continue?
Most solicitors, when advising your case no longer has sufficient prospects to continue, will include the advice that you have the option of seeking a second opinion. Alternative specialist solicitors will often agree to review your case and advise whether they concur that your case has been fully investigated, or whether there is anything further that might be done. This will usually be without charge, so it is worth asking for a second opinion if you are unhappy with the outcome.
It is not unheard of for cases which have been abandoned on legal advice to be successfully brought to a conclusion by another firm of solicitors: this does not necessarily mean the original solicitor made a mistake or gave advice that was entirely wrong, but there may be aspects of the case that they had not fully considered or explored. This may particularly apply if your case has been investigated by non-specialist solicitors.
One vital point is that if you do intend to seek a second opinion you should do this without any delay. There are limitation periods which apply to clinical negligence claims and you must act within the relevant limitation period or risk being time barred from bringing a claim. Time limits become even more important if your case has been issued in the court.
Our highly experienced team of specialist medical negligence lawyers are here to assist and to advise. If you would like to obtain a free second opinion from our lawyers, please call 0808 271 9413 or reguest a call back.