How Do I Fund my Medical Negligence Claim
There are a number of different ways you can pay for your medical negligence claim. These are:
- Legal expenses insurance
- Assistance from your trade union (if you are a member)
- A conditional fee agreement (No Win, No Fee)
- Legal aid, though only in some situations
Your solicitor will advise you on the best way to pay for your claim. Different firms have different arrangements for funding.
Legal Expenses Insurance
Some insurance policies, like household insurance include legal expenses cover as an extra. This can be used to pay for a medical negligence claim. If you don't have insurance that covers legal expenses, you may be able to purchase it after the negligent event has happened, but it is not always guaranteed that your insurance company will pay out.
For example, if the amount you expect to win is a lot less than the actual cost of legal fees, an insurer may refuse to pay your expenses. So if you were likely to get £500 compensation, but the legal costs would be £2000, you might not get funded by your insurer.
Your insurer also has the right to make you choose a solicitor from a list of firms that they provide or to appoint a specific solicitor themselves to represent your case. You are allowed to consult with a solicitor of your choice up until the actual legal proceedings start, but when they do, your insurance company might decide that another solicitor should represent you.
There may be a limit to the amount of legal costs they will pay.
The financial ombudsman has more information about legal expenses insurance.
This type of insurance is sometimes called Before The Event Insurance (BTE Insurance)
Some trade unions will offer funding for clinical negligence cases. Your solicitor will be able to find out whether your trade union offers this. If you are not a trade union member currently, but were at the time of the incident you can still use trade union funding.
You can also contact your trade union direct to find out whether they offer this kind of funding.
Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee)
A Conditional Fee Agreement is the legal term for "no win, no fee". Using no win, no fee means that you don't have to pay your solicitor's fees if you lose the case.
If you win, your solicitor may take a success fee out of your compensation to pay for the costs involved. If you lose the solicitor, and the insurance they have taken out of your behalf, will cover the costs.
Make sure that your solicitor takes out an After the Event insurance policy on your behalf in case you lose.
ATE Insurance (After the Event Insurance)
After the event insurance should be purchased on your behalf by your solicitor so that if you lose, you do not have to pay any legal costs.
Unfortunately legal aid is no longer available for most clinical negligence claims. However, there is very limited funding available for some claims involving children, for example if a child has suffered a birth injury. Your solicitor can advise you on whether you will be eligible for legal aid.
Bank Loan or Litigation Funding
You may chose to take out a bank loan to cover the cost of investigating a compensation claim however the cost of lending money from a bank or building society can be quite expensive. By the nature of the legal process, the length of time and the amount of money needed can vary greatly and although the Courts may allow a charge for interest to be included in your compensation claim, you may not get back all the interest you have paid.
Solicitors however do have a variety of schemes available to them to help in this regard. Companies called Disbursement funders offer solicitors litigation funding. These companies often have significant sums of money available to solicitors for their clients to use to cover some costs like medical reports. The rate of interest litigation finance companies charge can be less than the interest you would be charged by traditional loan companies.
This type of legal funding can normally be included in the provisions of the ATE policy cover which makes them attractive to cleints wishing to make a compensation claim. Beware though because there are some things to consider - Some legal loans are the responsibility of the law firm to cover whilst some are a credit agreement that the person claiming is personally liable for. It is wise to look at the options given to you by the law firm.
Rest assured though, as part of a solicitors rules and regulations, a solicitor must act with the best interest of it's client at all times.
Where Does the Money Go?
In clinical negligence cases there may be several things you'll be paying for:
Solicitor salaries, court fees, medical reports, travel expenses etc
Insurance to protect you from costs if you lose
After the Event Insurance (If you win your case, you may be expected to pay a part of this)
Are there any hidden cost?
Sometimes a solicitor may need to carry out investigations prior to taking on your case to assess whether it might be successful or not. Your solicitor might charge you for this initial work, but they will advise you of costs before doing this.
Remember that they might take out a success fee after you have received compensation.