Types of solicitor negligence
Failing to properly advise on all potential funding options
Solicitors may fail to consider all funding options available to clients and this can lead to clients, unnecessarily, having deductions taken from their compensation.
For example, ‘no win, no fee’ agreements might not be necessary if a client already has legal insurance cover contained within existing insurance policies such as home or car insurance. The advantage of legal expense insurance or public funding is that, unlike some ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, a client often does not have any deductions taken from their compensation should they ultimately be successful with their claim.
Failing to properly investigate claims
Solicitors can make mistakes when investigating claims. For example, during the course of a clinical negligence dispute, it is often necessary to obtain independent evidence from various medical experts. If a solicitor does not instruct appropriate experts then there is the potential that claims will be undervalued or clients incorrectly advised that their claims do not have a good chance.
Failing to start court proceedings in time
A common mistake is for claims to not be started at court within specified time limits. For example, clinical negligence claims generally must be started at court within 3 years of the date of the alleged negligence. If a claim is not started at court in time, then it is possible, that the court will determine that the client is no longer able to pursue a claim for compensation.
Failing to meet court deadlines
Once claims are started at court, directions will be set to manage the progression of claims. For example, the parties might be set deadlines to file statements, expert reports or to disclose documents upon which they intend to rely.
If a solicitor fails to comply with a deadline then this can have serious consequences as clients might no longer be allowed to rely on certain evidence or experts. This can often have a negative effect on the prospects or value of a client’s claim.
Sometimes solicitors fail to consider all heads of loss and this can lead to claims being undervalued and under settled.
A client’s losses might not be as obvious as failing to take into account loss of earnings or the costs of necessary adaptations to their home. For example, there are often failures to include a claim for the psychological harm that the client has endured as a result of the defendant’s actions or for the additional care and assistance that they have required (even if this was provided by a loved one and not by a paid professional).
As a result of a failure to accurately value claims, clients often accept offers in full and final settlement which undervalue their claim. Unfortunately, once a claim has been settled it is often not possible to return to the original defendant for additional compensation.
Failing to provide reasonable advice
Solicitors can also overvalue claims or on occasion, be over confident with the prospects of being successful. This can often result in clients being inappropriately advised to reject settlement offers. In some circumstances such clients are required to accept lesser amounts later or even worse, they might not ultimately receive any compensation at all.
If you feel that you have been let down by a solicitor or legal adviser during the course of a medical negligence claim speak to our experts on 0203 816 9314 for advice on the options available to you.