Medical negligence can be life-altering and, for some sufferers, one of the most stressful periods they have ever had to experience.
The initial process of approaching a solicitor can also seem daunting. At Coles Miller, we aim to make your medical negligence claim worry-free, with experts ready to guide you through your case from day one.
Adrian Cormack, a medical negligence specialist, answers some of the most frequently asked questions in the videos below. If you would like further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team today.
Watch our FAQ Videos
What are your specialisms?
Adrian Cormack, has been a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) for over 20 years. APIL is an organisation set up to protect the rights of people who suffer from an injury. Adrian is a senior litigator within APIL and he is also accredited with the Legal 500 as being a specialist in brain injury.
Will I pay less?
Yes you will! Our overheads in Dorset are less, our hourly rate is less and therefore there is an advantage to instructing a provincial firm with national expertise rather than perhaps a London firm whose hourly rate is higher and therefore their success fee would be higher.
Why choose Coles Miller as your solicitor?
Because we have empathy with our clients and real expertise in a team that we have built up over 20 years with a range of specialisms. We have acted for some clients for over 20 years where we have won the case and then continue to act for them through a trust. This shows loyalty from the client, who wouldn't stay with us if they were not perfectly happy with the service that we provided and the expertise that we bring. That expertise starts from the minute that we take on the case with the experts that we are able to call upon. We have a team of people here that are fairly tenacious; they're nice people, but they're lawyers at the end of the day and they're fairly vigourous in the way that they pursue a case! We have an excellent track record of winning and keeping the client happy even after the case is settled.
What should I do if I'm unsure?
We completley understand if you're not sure about claiming for an injured party in a very serious accident. You've been visiting this person for weeks and months and you're physically exhausted. You're having to work and make all these arrangements for family members to attend the hospital. Once the injured person is out of hospital you might think 'now we can relax'. But you don't want to leave it too long to start making a claim, particularly if they have been in hospital 2 or 3 months, as the liability evidence may get a bit stale. It might be the last thing the family want to do but it's probably the most important next step - go and see a solicitor who knows what they're doing and can preserve the liability evidence and start the claim by arranging a medical report on which to base the claim going forward.
What satisfaction do you get as a solicitor?
I enjoy what I do even though at times you are dealing with tragic circumstances. There are countless cases where we've acted for a family where their family member has nearly died and that, of course, at the beginning is all they are really concerned with. The reality comes later when they are discharged from hospital and we have to get interim payments to cover their care and their loss of earnings. It's a hugely long process, but very rewarding when you come out of it with a substantial sum of money which can then be invested for the family for many years. I have been a personal injury lawyer for over 20 years and I have acted for some clients in this area for over 17 years. Whilst we have settled the case, we still deal with the family day to day with all their ongoing difficulties and care.
What is your success record for interim payments?
There are no typical clients but we can always get interim payments from the defendants, particularly in more serious cases. If you have a very serious brain injury or spinal injury it may be years before the final medical assessment can be made - the interim payment is the lifeblood of families because it will cover lost earnings and the care that the family will need in the interim period before the final assessment can be made. We have huge experience in gaining interim payments and it is something we look at in each and every case.
What is the APIL?
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is a professional body set up by claimant personal injury lawyers nationally to share expertise and ideas. They are also a lobby body to protect the interest of claimants. Adrian Cormack has been a member for over 20 years and he is a senior litigator with APIL. Adrian is also listed in the Legal 500 as a specialist in brain injury.
What is a conditional fee agreement?
A conditional fee agreement sounds complicated, but it's not! It is the name of the No Win No Fee arrangement that we have with our clients. You should be reassured that there is no cost to you should you lose and if you win, you should be reassured that it is only the success fee from your damages that we take, which can't be more than 25%.
What happens after my case is won?
Once you've received the money this is not the end of the case. In fact, it is often just the start of a long process of rehabilitation for the family member involved. You will often have to adapt their property, set up a care regime and deal with the day to day realities of life for a family. We set up a trust and we work very closely with clients for many years. Adrian Cormack has acted for some clients for over 20 years in this area. It's an ongoing process and you almost become like a family member helping deal with the day to day problems that they might come across.
No win, No Fee - how much does Coles Miller take?
In most cases we enter into a conditional fee agreement whereby we take a 25% success fee. We sometimes negotiate with clients where the fee might be slightly less or if the particular case is more high risk or challenging a higher fee may be negotiated, but normally it's 25%.
What can I do to help you with my case?
If you are thinking about making a claim where liability might be an issue, preserve whatever evidence you can. It might be the last thing you want to do but, for example, if your family member has been involved in a car crash, take some photographs; for example, of the damage to the vehicle or the road position of the cars. If the claimant has fallen off a building take photos of the building and surrounding area. Once they begin to attend hospital make a record of the hours you are spending there visiting, car parking costs, travel expenses, etc. Keep a diary of what you are having to do for your family member on a daily basis when they return home.
Is my case going to be stressful?
It depends what evidence you're giving. If you are dealing with a liability case you may have to stand up in court. If you're giving evidence on how much a claim is worth, for example, how much care you are giving to an injured family member, it is often not in the defence's interest to rigidly cross examine you, as the judge is going to have sympathy with the carer who has suffered a devastating, life-altering event. The defence may however 'pick' at the claim if there are unusual expenses.
How long will my claim take?
This is probably the most complicated question for any lawyer to answer! If defendants admit liability quickly and it is a relatively straightforward case, it could take 6 to 9 months. If a case is more complicated and the medical situation is not clear, then we would have to wait until we could get a final prognosis on your condition and that depends on what the medical experts tell us.
Does Coles Miller cover the whole of the UK?
We have experience in acting for clients all over the UK. Whilst we might be Dorset based, we cover the whole of the country.
Am I liable for any costs with No Win No Fee?
The cost will be explained to you at the outset and you will sign up to a No Win No Fee arrangement. That arrangement will be that we will not take any more than 25% of your damages on successful conclusion of the claim. If the claim is not successful then you owe us nothing.
How does No Win No Fee work?
No Win No Fee works for you because you are reassured there are no hidden costs. You know that you will get 75% of your damages if we win the case.