Clinical negligence and medical negligence are terms which are used interchangeably but they both refer to the substandard performance of a medical professional who therefore placed their patient at risk. Victims of clinical negligence could be entitled to claim compensation, but clinical negligence claims are highly specialised and complex areas of law, therefore requiring an experienced clinical negligence solicitor. As well as having a thorough understanding of the law, a specialist negligence specialist will also need a firm grasp of medicine.
So how will you know if your solicitor is a specialist? The first to thing to look for is whether or not they are members of any specialist clinical negligence solicitors’ panels. The Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel and the Association against Medical Accidents (AvMA) panels are the two panels to look out for. Indeed, whilst there are well over 100,000 solicitors in the UK, there are only around 200 solicitors who have been accredited as specialist by these two panels.
So why are specialists so few and far between? In order to qualify for either the Law Society or AvMA panels, your need to have vast experience handling clinical negligence claims. Solicitors must prove that they have successfully pursued high value claims at court level before, relying on their own advocacy skills in front of the judge, rather than those of a barrister. Once solicitors are accepted onto the panel they must continue the good work because they are constantly reassessed according to strict criteria and they must work in accordance with strict panel rules and regulations. They will also need to demonstrate that they can represent vulnerable clients sensitively and supportively.
In order to maintain their specialist status, solicitors must keep abreast of developments in both law and medicine as their performance will be assessed regularly. Therefore, solicitors who like to dip into medical claim work are perhaps acting negligently themselves because clinical negligence claims require considerable expertise and cannot be practiced by any ordinary solicitor. Having already suffered due to a careless medical professional it is frankly reprehensible to allow a client to suffer at the hands of a negligent legal professional as well.
Therefore, when instructing a clinical negligence solicitor it is of paramount important importance that they are specialists. By choosing a solicitor who is a member of the AvMA or Law Society panels, you can ensure that you have selected a lawyer with the expertise and credentials you need.
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