S J Edney’s Christmas and New Year closing times
S J Edney will be closed for the Christmas and New Year break from 1.00pm on Friday 21 December 2011 until 09.00am on Wednesday 02 January 2013.
LOOKING BACK ON 2012
Another year draws to a close and what a year it has been with the Queens Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics, excessive rain and now the big freeze.
We at S J Edney continue to act for clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or fault and as such are entitled to be compensated for their injuries. It has been some 17 years since Seamus Edney first set up our practice back in 1996.
The level of damages which we have recovered during 2012 for our clients continue to break previous records, for example, we recently recovered damages for three of our clinical negligence clients of £300,000.00, £675,000.00 and £835,000.00 respectively. We have also recently concluded two personal injury cases for £250,000.00 and £180,000.00 respectively. In the majority of these cases, liability or quantum (sometimes both) were disputed and they had to be litigated.
Chris Evans is no longer working at our firm. He joined another firm during the autumn which specialises in dental negligence cases. We wish him well for the future. Fortunately, we were able to recruit Mary Smith who is a very experienced clinical negligence and personal injury lawyer and she is proving to be a big asset.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2013
This will be a very important year for both Claimants and their Lawyers. As from the 1 April 2013, we will see the following important changes being made:-
- the abolition of legal aid for most clinical negligence cases;
- the abolition of referral fees in personal injury work;
- the inability to recover success fees and after the event insurance from unsuccessful Defendants;
- the introduction of one-way costs shifting and contingency fees;
- the likely extension of the small claims limit from £1,000.00 to £5,000.00 for the personal injury aspect of a claim together with a significant extension of the existing portal.
We touch on some of these changes in our newsletter and it is important that people take advice before April 2013 if they feel they may have a claim before these new changes come into force. Cases run under the old rules would enable them to recover more in damages.
We also comment in our newsletter about ongoing issues in the care of older people in care homes. We advise in particular on the type of claim that can often be made by victims of abuse in these circumstances.
THE TEAM AT S J EDNEY WOULD LIKE TO WISH ALL OUR CLIENTS
A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS
AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR
BIG CHANGES IN LEGAL AID AND NO WIN NO FEE CASES COMING INTO FORCE IN APRIL 2013
The law on paying legal fees has changed recently, and although it is not coming into effect until April 2013, in certain cases the changes may have an effect now.
Presently, most people who have a claim for injury against a hospital trust or other healthcare provider will either receive Legal Aid to cover their legal costs, or their solicitor will act for them on a Conditional Fee Agreement (this is usually called No Win No Fee).
As a rule, clients with the benefit of Legal Aid or No Win No Fee arrangements with their solicitors pay no fees if a case is unsuccessful, if they win their case the costs are met by the loosing defendant.
Although Legal Aid and No Win No Fee agreements are not being abolished, the situation is going to change dramatically on 1st April 2013 because of certain provisions in an act of Parliament called the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.
At the moment any person with a clinical negligence claim may be eligible for Legal Aid provided 1) their chances of success are reasonable; and 2) their income and capital are below a certain level.
From April 2013 only those who have been injured during pregnancy, labour, or the first eight weeks of life will be eligible for Legal Aid. This is regardless of whether in other respects they have a strong case and/or a very low income.
Conditional Fee Agreements (No Win No Fee)
Because of the reduction in availability of Legal Aid many more people will be relying on their solicitors offering a No Win No Fee agreement. Solicitors will continue to offer this facility to their clients, where if the case is not successful they will pay no fees.
However, in successful cases there will be changes.
Presently, the costs that claimants recover from defendants include a solicitor’s success fee. The success fee is calculated as a percentage of the solicitor’s basic fee. It is used to offset the risk of the solicitor not being paid anything should the claimant lose the case. It is only payable if the claimant wins the case and will usually be paid by the losing opponent.
However, from April 2013 successful claimants may be deprived of up to 25% of their general damages and past losses in order to pay solicitors’ success fees, as these will no longer be recoverable from Defendants.
What can you do now?
It is very important that if, before April 2013, you think you may have a claim against a hospital trust or other healthcare provider, you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Any No Win No Fee agreement entered into or Legal Aid granted before April 2013 will not be subject to the new rules.
By instructing a solicitor and establishing the method of funding before April 2013, you may be saving yourself a significant deduction from damages if your case is successful.
HOMES FAILING TO MEET BASIC STANDARDS
The Quality Care Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of hospitals and care homes in England, produced a damming report during November 2012 on the quality of care some patients or residents are receiving – this report received a great deal of press coverage.
There are over 13,000 residential care homes in England and the CQC found that 18% are not meeting minimum standards on the care and welfare of patients. The proportion rises to 28% of the 4,600 nursing homes that look after the frailest people.
Care was too often mechanical and staff needed to focus on patients’ and residents’ individual needs rather than just seeing a series of tasks to be completed, the CQC said. Staff too often talked over residents as if they were not there, failed to as what they wanted and put them to bed to suit the staff rather than residents.
David Behan, Chief Executive of CQC said “unacceptable care is where everybody is treated the same. We are not all the same, we don’t all have the same needs and therefore it is essential that people are treated as individuals and their care and support is personalised to them”. He added that the problem was not a lack of money, as good care homes were coping with the same squeeze in public finances. “Good leadership really does make a difference. So does training of staff”.
LEGAL CLAIMS ARISING FROM THE ABUSE OF OUR OLDER PEOPLE
As a firm that specialises in clinical negligence cases – we have noticed that the number of injuries and deaths of people in nursing and care homes continues to rise each year. This is something that has been highlighted by a number of reports including the CQC report which we comment on in our current newsletter.
Despite the extent of this abuse, many of these victims (who are often old or people with learning difficulties) do not seek legal advice and as such do not receive compensation for their injuries. However, we believe that where a claim has merit it should be brought as often the hospital or care home provider will have no defence to the allegations of negligence.
Some of the claims that can be made on behalf of people in these circumstances are listed below:-
- assaults and unnecessary restraint, for example, patients who are restrained in bed against their wishes;
- pressure sores – in our experience there is often no defence to a patient or resident developing a pressure sore unless they could not be moved at all for medical reasons which is very unusual. They normally arise due to patients or residents not being moved regularly and being left in their own soaked beds or clothes;
- over-prescription of antipsychotics – most people with dementia experience behavioural and psychological symptoms, such as restlessness and shouting. Many of these symptoms can be prevented or managed without medication but patients or residents are given antipsychotics as a first resort without the staff identifying if other treatment is more appropriate;
- malnutrition and dehydration – there is no defence to either malnutrition or dehydration. We acknowledge that feeding weak and confused elderly patients is time consuming but too often food is laid out and then collected without being eaten. Their food intake is not properly monitored and these patients or residents soon lose weight and this can worsen their ongoing health problems;
- falling over – older patients are more vulnerable to falling due to a number of risk factors, including impaired mobility, dementia, medication and the effects of their underlying medical illness. Often the underlying risk factors can be reduced with proper risk assessments etc. These falls which can lead to very serious injuries or cause the death of older patients;
- hospital or care home acquired infections (for example, MRSA) – the mere fact of contracting one of these infections is not evidence of negligence but in our experience they can be caused by a breach of Infection Control policies etc. which, once again, can trigger a downward spiral in an older person’s health.
If anyone has a family member or neighbour who has suffered poor care whilst in hospital or a care home, they should be encouraged to take legal advice as they are probably entitled to be compensation for their injuries which are often avoidable.
This newsletter was produced by S J Edney solicitors Telephone: 01793 600721