Government proposes removing medical negligence from legal aid

Injury solicitors have recently found themselves on a bit of a sticky wicket due to government proposals to remove medical negligence completely from the scope of legal aid due to CFA availability.

To make matters worse, there is increasing pressure to implement the legal reforms recommended by Lord Justice Jackson. Doing so could result in claimant’s personal injury compensation awards being whittled down by having to have insurance premiums and success fees subtracted from them.

Though the litigation authority is one of Lord Justice Jackson’s most staunch supporters, both measures are under attack from the legal profession and organisations such as the Action against Medical Accidents charity.  Many however disagree with the idea that the end of recoverability will result in a reduction of access to justice for accident claim victims; instead it is argued that those in the legal profession will simply find other ways to do the work – though they will not be as lucrative as the current methods.

However, some are of the belief that legal action is simply not the ideal method for managing many medical negligence incidents.  Many patients care less about the monetary value of the claim than they do with securing an apology and a promise to alter procedures, something that is unlikely to be achieved through a prolonged adversarial battle.  In response to this, one Scottish governmental review group issued the recommendation of setting up a no-fault scheme, which would allow injured patients to pursue a compensation claim without having to prove negligence.

However the idea has seen rejection several times in the greater United Kingdom.  The one stumbling block to instituting such a scheme has been considerations that it would simply be to expensive, as estimations indicate that only about 1 in every 10 injury victims ever file a claim.  If the requirement to prove fault was removed, the influx of injured people seeking to bring claims could quickly overwhelm the legal system, it is argued.

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