Case Study : Clinical Negligence Claims Costs
We were recently instructed by a firm of Claimant solicitors to recover their legal costs following a complex case involving a minor who suffered serious injuries at birth.
Facts of the Case: The Claimant was subjected to negligent treatment from a medical professional, which resulted in injuries at birth. Due to the inadequate medical treatment they received, the Claimant’s Litigation Friend contacted a medical negligence solicitor, and once they had obtained legal advice, they decided to pursue a personal injury, clinical negligence case. The Claimant was successful in claiming compensation for the injuries caused by unsuitable medical care. The Solicitor proceeded to the next step of recovering their medical negligence case costs.
Claim Type: Clinical Negligence Claim for an injury caused during birth delivery of the Claimant, which caused hypoxia and led to the development of cerebral palsy.
Injuries: Quadriplegia as a consequence of the intracranial bleeding as well as suffering from cognition impairment.
Date case was initiated by Litigation Friend: October 2009
Date Case settled: Terms of settlement confirmed on October 2018, save for costs, at Infant Approval Hearing.
Complexities of Case: Due to the complex nature of medical negligence claims and the fact that this case involved a minor, the case took nine years to settle, as a prognosis for the Claimant could not be confirmed in a short period of time, and also injuries caused to minors can have lifelong effects, the full extent of which may not be realised until they grow older.
The Claimant suffered complex injuries requiring a number of experts which were required to provide an opinion as to whether the delivery of the Claimant had been negligent, and to advise on whether this had led to the symptoms subsequently developed by the Claimant, and to thereafter conclude the lifelong prognosis arising from the serious injuries suffered. Expert evidence was provided by a Neurologist, Obstetrician, Neuroradiologist, and a Paediatric Neurologist, all of which provided several reports.
The Defendant had denied liability for the injuries on the basis of causation (that the purported negligence could not have caused the Claimant’s injuries, and that these would have arisen irrespective of the negligence as part of a difficult birth).
Expert reports were required to prove causation which stated that the Claimant’s medical records were inaccurate and could not be relied upon however, there were some disagreements between experts relating to the position of the Claimant during the birth process. These disagreements led to the need for multiple addendum reports, leading to additional costs incurred in the claim.
Settlement and Damages: In September 2018, the Defendant made offers to settle the claim at a Joint Settlement Meeting (JSM) convened to narrow the issues in dispute and resolve matters before litigation escalated further. Advice was provided to the Litigation Friend and the Defendant’s offer of £2,000,000 was accepted by the Litigation Friend. These damages would be utilised to fund the Claimant’s lifelong care and assistance and will provide a fundamental improvement to the Claimant’s future quality of life.
Costs of the Claim: Due to the complexities and time taken to settle the case, costs incurred by the Claimant Solicitors in the case were claimed in the total sum of £391,522.66, comprising of multiple expert reports (x20+ reports), Court fees, travel expenses, and costs for work done by the Solicitor.
How Did ARC Costs Assist?
In order to bring a claim, a Solicitor must be able to successfully fund the matter (particularly given this was a nine year long claim).
The matter was funded by way of Legal Aid and often in these cases, Conditional Fee Agreements (also known as a no win, no fee agreement, in which a success fee is taken on successful conclusion of the claim) are used to fund matters, meaning a Solicitor cannot recover any costs until the conclusion of the claim, and only on a successful outcome (unlike a privately funded matter). This can hamper the bringing of significant damages claims as Solicitors may be unable to fund the same.
ARC costs provided assistance throughout this matter and particularly during the litigation process. Assistance was initially provided via the preparation of Costs Budgets, and subsequent Budget negotiations and representation for the Costs and Case Management Conference.
Budgets also had to be later updated and adjusted to reflect a change in claim circumstances, for which additional budgeted costs were secured. Finally, ARC Costs prepared and negotiated the Bill of Costs, and settled Points of Reply, and ultimately were required to lodge the matter for a detailed assessment hearing in respect of costs. In order to ensure cashflow for the Solicitors, an interim costs payment of £250,000 was secured on account.
The initial offer for costs from the defendant was £250,000 to settle the bill of costs. ARC Costs negotiated the bill and proceeded the case to a detailed assessment hearing. The claim for costs settled 7 days before the detailed assessment hearing and ARC Costs were able to recover £307,500 of the Bill of Costs, for the Claimant Solicitors.
How Can ARC Costs Assist?
ARC Costs are highly experienced and have been successful in costs recovery in the majority of our dispute resolution cases, including those incurred in clinical negligence claims.
The recovery of costs in clinical negligence claims can be particularly complex due to the fact that there is a high burden of proof, meaning that pre-issue investigations are intensive and the costs of clinical negligence claims can be significant. Claims for costs are highly contested by Defendants due to the significant costs incurred in bringing a claim, and proportionality is often brought into question, which is why it is important to instruct a specialist costs draftsman to deal with this type of costs claim.
We can assist in recovering legal costs by drafting your bill of costs, as well as points of reply and negotiating your bill of costs with the other side before advising on whether the claim should proceed to a Detailed Assessment Hearing.
We can also assist in the negotiation of a bill of costs, irrespective of whether you are a receiving or paying party.
We can be contacted via email at email@example.com, or by telephone on 01204 397302. For more information on legal costs, please find out more about our speciality areas of expertise and our services on our legal costs page.
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