Using No Win No Fee Arrangements When Claiming For Clinical Negligence

Becoming a victim of clinical negligence (formally known as medical negligence) can be a devastating experience.  After all, it is likely that you were already in a position of physical distress, and this caused you to seek assistance from a healthcare professional. To have additional pain and injury caused by clinical negligence can set you back many months, or even years, in terms of recovery.

Fortunately, you can take control of the situation you find yourself in and ensure you receive adequate compensation for your personal injury, even if the healthcare provider who you believe was negligent denies that they caused your trauma.

There is help available.

What Do I Need To Prove Clinical Negligence?

According to the NHS Litigation Authority’s annual report, there were 10,129 claims of clinical negligence in the United Kingdom in the 12 months leading up to March 2013, a rise of 11% on the previous year.

In order to make a claim for clinical negligence against a healthcare professional, you will need to show the following:

  1. The healthcare professional owed you a duty of care;
  2. The healthcare professional breached that duty of care;
  3. That breach has caused you harm; and
  4. You have suffered injury, loss or damage as a result.

The first two points relate to the proving of negligence on the part of the healthcare professional, the second two points are about proving that their negligent act caused the loss or damage the claimant has suffered.  This can sometimes prove difficult in clinical negligence compensation claims, as the claimant must be able to prove that the subsequent injury, loss or damage was not related to or caused by their original medical condition.

Most no win no fee law firms will only take on cases where they believe that the claimant has a better than average chance of being successful.  Therefore, it is important to provide access to your medical records and give a full and frank disclosure of the situation when consulting a personal injury law specialist.

Examples of Successful Cases

There are many examples of successful claims being brought against a healthcare provider for clinical negligence in the media.  These include:

  • £500,000 compensation for a man who suffered from brain damage due to negligent anaesthetic treatment.
  • A woman who suffered a spinal injury later developed pressure sores due to sub-standard hospital care.  She was subsequently awarded £1 million.
  • Compensation for young parents whose infant died after a staff member at a hospital misread the CTG scan.  Due to the failure of the scan being read correctly, a C-section was not performed until it was too late.
  • £10.8 million awarded as compensation to parents whose child developed cerebral palsy and other debilitating conditions.  Staff at the hospital she was born in failed to notice her heart had stopped beating causing irreversible damage.  The compensation will be used to cover the child’s need for lifelong, 24 hour care due to the clinical staff’s negligence.

How to Make a Clinical Negligence Claim Using a No Win, No Fee Arrangement

If you have suffered from a loss or personal injury that you believe can be attributed to the negligence of the medial practitioner responsible for your care, then contact a personal injury solicitor who specialises in no win no fee claims.  They will be able to assess your position and advise you on whether you have a chance of making a successful claim for compensation.


If you would like to find out more, please click here or call us on 0333 400 4445.



Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Ambulance Workers

In April 2003, findings published in the British Medical Journal showed that emergency service workers are at high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The study questioned 617 personnel who worked for ambulance service, and it found that 22% suffered from some form of PTSD.

This is a troubling figure.  Ambulance personnel are required to attend situations that most of us could not begin to comprehend such as suicides, sudden infant death, and events such as the 7th July 2005 London bombings, which resulted in gruesome and distressing scenes, too graphic to be shown in the media, but sights these brave individuals had to face head on.  It is vitally important that ambulance staff are supported fully in their workplace, to ensure they stay psychologically safe, not only for themselves, but for the wider community who rely on them in times of desperate need.

What is PTSD?

PTSD can be caused by a single one-off event or after being exposed to a series of traumatic circumstances.  In the First World War the condition was named Shell Shock. It was later to become known as PTSD in 1980s.  Its symptoms include:

  • Hyper-arousal (always feeling on edge)
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Experiencing flashbacks
  • Anxiety and depression

When left untreated, and in extreme cases, PTSD has led to the suicide of first response workers. After a series of suicides, the governments of British Columbia and Alberta in Canada introduced legislation which applies a presumption that any emergency worker suffering from PTSD is presumed to have acquired the condition as a direct result of their work.  This has made claiming for compensation and support easier.

Compensation for Ambulance Staff Suffering from PTDS in Britain

Historically, the British courts have been reluctant to award compensation to emergency workers who have suffered from PTSD due to having to attend a horrific event caused by a third party’s negligence.  This, coupled with claimants no longer having access to legal aid to fund personal injury claims, has meant successful cases remained few and far between until recently.

However, with the growing acceptance that PTSD is a serious, life-affecting illness, and the advent of no win no fee arrangements to fund claims, things are starting to change and emergency workers are beginning to achieve the compensation they deserve.

A tragic incident that has led to many developments in this area of law was the Hillsborough Football Stadium disaster in 1989.  Although these particular claims involved police officers present at the scene, the principles of the cases could be applied equally to ambulance workers.

Traditionally, the courts have divided people who claim for psychiatric injury after a traumatic event into three categories:

  1. Those who are personally involved in the event who receive both physical and psychological injuries.  These victims are automatically entitled to claim for both mental and physical damage.
  2. People are put at risk of physical injury and escape it, however, go on to suffer from physiological damage.  They are known as primary victims.
  3. Individuals who are not in any physical danger, however, suffer from physiological injury, such as PTSD, because of the event they have directly witnessed.  These people are referred to as secondary victims.

One category of secondary victims is emergency service workers, who suffer from PTSD due to witnessing traumatic events whilst doing their job.  In the case of Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire which stemmed from the Hillsborough disaster, the House of Lords outlined ‘control mechanisms’ designed to limit the number of secondary claims which could be brought before the courts.  In order to qualify for compensation, it was held a secondary victim must prove the following:

“1. There must be a close tie of love and affection between the plaintiff and the victim.  2. The plaintiff must have been present at the accident or its immediate aftermath.  3. The psychiatric injury must have been caused by direct perception of the accident or its immediate aftermath and not by hearing about it from somebody else.”

The courts have not always been consistent when deciding on compensation claims for secondary victims.  For example, in the case of Chadwick v British Railways Board, decided prior to Alcock, the court did allow a secondary victim who assisted in rescuing people from a train crash to claim compensation.  In reaching his decision that the defendant did owe the claimant a duty of care, Waller J quoted Cardozo J in Wagner v  International  Railway Company 232 NY Rep 176, 180 (1921):

“Danger invites rescue. The cry of distress is the summons to relief. The law does not ignore these reactions of the mind in tracing conduct to its consequences. It recognises them as normal. It places their effect within the range of the natural and probable. The wrong that imperils life is a wrong to the imperilled victim; it is a wrong also to his rescuer.”

However, a majority of the House of Lords declined to follow Chadwick in the case of White v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. The claimants were police officers involved in the rescue at Hillsborough.  The officers claimed that their employers, the South Yorkshire Police, where negligent, and as a consequence they had developed psychiatric injuries after participating in the rescue of the victims of that tragic event.  Their Lordships held that the claim could not succeed because they were not in any physical danger, therefore they could not be seen as primary victims, and they did not satisfy any of the criteria which would have put them in the category of secondary victims. The Law Lords felt it was unfair to award compensation to rescue personnel, when many of the victim’s families were denied any form of compensation.

The tables were turned again in 2001 when a court awarded a police officer suffering from PTSD after Hillsborough £330,000 in compensation.

Unclear Precedents

In recent years, there have been a few successful claims by ambulance officers against their employers for not providing appropriate support for PTSD.  Although the law remains a little unclear, the respect and recognition that PTSD now receives will undoubtedly increase the likelihood of claimants being successful in gaining compensation to allow them to move on with their lives.

If you are an emergency worker and suffer from PTSD, which you believe was caused as a direct result of the trauma you experienced through your employment, then please contact us today.  We offer a no win no fee arrangement and have the necessary experience and expertise to bring forward your case and fight for your compensation.



No Win No Fee – What’s In It For Me?

The ‘no win no fee’ arrangement is one that can benefit a claimant in many different ways.  Unfortunately, because of a few isolated cases where individuals have been charged solicitors fees when their case was unsuccessful, many people are naturally suspicious when a law firm provides services on this basis.

This blog is designed to help you understand the no win no fee structure and inform you of the protections that are in place which prevent solicitors from charging undisclosed fees at the end of the case.

What is No Win No Fee?

Strictly, a no win no fee arrangement means that if your claim for compensation is unsuccessful then you will not be charged any solicitors’ fees.

Reputable law firms who deal with personal injury claims on a no win no fee basis will outline the charges that will apply to you in full and in writing if requested.  They will answer all your questions upfront and you will not receive any surprise charges at the end of the process, whether or not you are successful in your claim.

Some law firms require claimants to pay the court fees for themselves and the defendant, however, this should be stated clearly upfront so you have this knowledge before you engage the firm as your legal representative.  You should also be informed that you can take out insurance to protect yourself should your claim be unsuccessful.

Changes to the No Win No Fee Arrangements

No win, no fee arrangements were introduced in the 1990s to allow people who would otherwise be unable to access justice because of financial constraints, the ability to bring claims in court for certain situations such as personal injury.  The defendant was responsible for paying the claimant’s legal fees as well as court fees which could lead to a large financial burden being placed upon them.

From the 1st April 2013 no win no fee cases were separated into conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and damages-based agreements (DBAs, sometimes called contingency fees).  If the case is unsuccessful then the lawyer is not paid a fee under either arrangement.

In the case of a CFA, if the claimant is successful then they are responsible for paying their lawyers fee, usually out of the compensation received.  In the case of personal injury the lawyer’s fee cannot be more than 25% of the total amount of compensation rewarded and any claims for future loss or damage cannot be taken into account.

Before 2013, DBAs were used mainly in employment cases and were not used at all in civil cases.  The changes which came into force in 2013 meant DBAs could be used in civil cases, including cases involving personal injury.  Like CFA claims the lawyer’s fee is capped at 25% of the compensation awarded and excludes any money from future claims.

The Law Society

The Law Society maintains a role of protecting the general public from incorrect or unfair solicitors’ fees.  If your case ends and you receive a fee that you were not made aware of prior to the beginning of proceedings you have a right to make a complaint to the Law Society who can sanction the firm or lawyer involved.

If you would like to talk about our no win no fee arrangements then please feel free to call our office to speak to one of our friendly advisors who can guide you through the process and answer all your questions.

Next week we will be discussing the various insurance policies available to protect yourself if your case is unsuccessful and cover your lawyers’ fees if you are.

Typically, customers pay 25% of the amount that is recovered. This can vary and maybe more or less. Termination fees may apply if you fail to co-operate with your lawyer.

No Win No Fee – No Insurance? How Taking Out Insurance Can Protect You in a Personal Injury Case

Continuing our series on ‘no win no fee’, this article discusses the insurance options available to claimants that provide protection against paying legal costs and expenses.

As mentioned in the previous blog , the no win no fee model was introduced in the mid-1990s in order to give people access to justice without the risk of having to pay crippling legal fees.

There are two types of insurance available that can assist litigants with legal expenses.  They are:

  • Before the event insurance (BTE)
  • After the even insurance (ATE)

Let’s look at each option in detail.

Before the Event Insurance (BTE)

Before the event insurance (BTE) is often purchased alongside other types of insurance such as car or household insurance and it provides protection in a similar way.  For example, when you insure your car, you are insuring against a hypothetical event happening, such as your car being stolen or being involved in an accident.  BTE insurance works in the same way, you purchase it in order to protect yourself in advance in case one day you are involved in litigation and have to pay legal costs.

Insurers offering BTE insurance will only pay if they believe that you have an above average chance of succeeding in your litigation claim and you cannot purchase this type of insurance if you are already involved in a court case.  It will cover your lawyers and court fees and expenses but it will not cover you for any compensation that you are ordered to pay if you are unsuccessful in defending your case.

People who have BTE insurance may prefer to take advantage of their policy rather than engage in a no win no fee arrangement.

After the Event Insurance (ATE)

After the event insurance (ATE) is usually taken out by the claimant’s solicitor, although it is also available to defendants.  ATE insurance is purchased at the beginning of a claim and normally covers the legal costs and expenses that the court orders the claimant to pay to the defendant if they are unsuccessful in their claim.  As with BTE insurance, you or your solicitor will need to convince the insurance provider that your claim has a good chance of being successful.

It is highly advisable to purchase ATE insurance when entering into a no win no fee arrangement, especially if, as a claimant, your contract with your solicitor requires you pay some or all of the court costs if you are unsuccessful in your case.

If you have taken out ATE insurance before the 1st April 2013, the unsuccessful defendant is liable to pay the insurance premium.  However, if the insurance was taken out after the 1st April 2013, the individual who has taken out the policy is required to pay the premium.

In Summary

Taking out litigation insurance offers further protection against being hit with legal costs if you fail in your claim to receive the compensation you deserve.  It allows more vulnerable members of society to have access to the law and the opportunity to fight for justice.

If you have any questions related to purchasing litigation insurance then please call our office on freephone 0333 400 4445 to talk to one of our friendly advisors who will explain the details in depth.


No Win No Fee and Access to Justice

Imagine you are an office worker or labourer, going about your daily business when suddenly a car knocks you down.  Or a pile of scaffolding falls on top of you.  Or you slip and break your leg on a wet supermarket floor.  The injury you suffer leaves you unable to work, the bills and mortgage payments are starting to fall behind, and you now have large medical costs to cover in order to get back to full health.

If you have found yourself in this sort of situation, it is only natural and often necessary for pure survival, to seek compensation from the party whose negligence caused your accident.  However, did you know that legal aid is no longer available for personal injury claims?  This means that if you wish to make a claim against the party that caused your suffering and injuries, you have to pay for your lawyer’s fees and court costs.  These can amount to thousands of pounds, and to make matters worse, if you lose your claim, you could be ordered by the presiding judge to pay for the other party’s court costs as well as your own.

The above scenario sounds rather grim doesn’t it?  But, thanks to the advent of no win no fee arrangements or a ‘conditional fee’ as they are sometimes known, the average person does not have to risk their savings or walk away from the prospect of fighting for compensation due to financial restraints.

No win no fee arrangements

From 1998, no win no fee arrangements have been available for all civil cases except for those involving family matters, in England and Wales.  This has resulted in a negative perception of personal injury law, with lawyers being accused of being ambulance chasers and newspapers regularly screaming out headlines with the words ‘compensation culture’ highlighted in bold.  However, the reality of the situation is compensation claims have levelled off and in some areas such as work place accidents and clinical negligence, the number of claims brought before the courts have dropped[1].

The stats

There are also claims that the emergence of no win no fee arrangements has created a risk adverse culture in our society whereby we “wrap children up in cotton wool” and employers are overburdened with health and safety prevention which depletes their profits.  However,  this argument can be turned on its head by the view that the advent of no win no fee arrangements has possibly led to a decrease in the number of individuals injured or killed because of the negligence of others.  As mentioned above, medical negligence and workplace injury claims have actually decreased since the mid-1990s when no win no fee arrangements were introduced.  Childhood accidents have also fallen sharply over the last two decades.  One could propose the theory that by making it easier for people to make claims for compensation ensures that businesses, schools and other organisations are kept in check and prevented from taking short cuts in health and safety in order to control costs.

No win no fee arrangements have allowed those who are at the most risk of exploitation, the very young, the very old and the disadvantaged, to have the ability to claim compensation from anyone whose negligent actions result in an injury to their person.  And very few individuals could dispute that this increased access to justice is not a positive development for society as a whole.

If you would like to find out more about no win no fee please contact us on 0333 400 4445 to talk with one of our friendly advisers.

We welcome any comments you may have on this post, please feel free to add your thoughts below.