Amy Fielding, partner in the Leeds Clinical Negligence team, spoke to the Yorkshire Post about the steps involved in bringing a claim and the most memorable moments in her career.

The Q&A also explains the role of other professionals in the clinical negligence claim process including case managers, and gives tips on what patients should look for in a solicitor when seeking to bring a claim.


What are some of the most common case types you work on?

At Stewarts, our team only works on catastrophic injury claims resulting from medical negligence. These typically relate to amputation, brain and spinal injuries and injuries arising at birth that are life changing. Our clients have extensive needs: care, equipment, accommodation and ongoing medical treatment and therapies will be required for the rest of their lives.


What are the steps involved in bringing a clinical negligence claim?

Firstly, taking a full history of what has happened and obtaining all the relevant medical records to investigate.

Secondly, instructing an expert or experts in the type of care or treatment and obtaining their views as to whether there were unreasonable failures in the treatment received.

Thirdly, instructing further experts to determine whether these failings resulted in a worse outcome. Once we have obtained this evidence we can determine whether a claim can be brought and estimate the likelihood of success.


How soon after negligence is committed must a patient bring a claim?

Ordinarily, a client has to bring a claim within three years from the date of the negligence or their becoming aware of the negligence occurring. This differs if the client does not have mental capacity, in which case there is no time limit to bringing a claim.

A child (or their parents) has to bring a claim within three years of their 18th birthday. Where someone has died due to negligence, their family/estate has three years from the date of their death to bring a claim.


What’s the most memorable case you’ve worked on?

Some years ago, I had a client who had sustained a stroke early in life, leading to weakness on one side. He overcame this and proceeded with a very successful career without any issue. Just after retirement he began to suffer with foot and leg pain on the opposite side for which he consulted many private clinicians.

Despite his history of vascular issues and 18 months of excruciating pain and reduced mobility, the underlying problem was not diagnosed. When his defective circulation in his foot and then leg was diagnosed it was too late and his ‘good’ leg was no longer salvageable. He had to have an amputation.

From that point he was entirely wheelchair dependent. What should have been a well-earned and enjoyable retirement was suddenly in ruins for him and his family.

Aside from the devastation the injury caused, this case initially involved 11 defendants due to the long period over which negligent treatment was provided. The claim proceeded to a High Court trial against five of those defendants, each with their own expert teams.

It felt very much like a ‘David vs Goliath’ scenario, but the judge was very critical of the evidence given by the defendants’ experts and fortunately found in our client’s favour.


As well as the lawyer, which other professionals are involved as part of a serious injury claim?

It takes a team of people to bring a serious injury claim, given the complexity of the work and what is required. Claims usually take some time to resolve so structuring an effective team around each client is critical.

Alongside the solicitor running a claim, a barrister is usually instructed from the outset and will be used to provide ongoing advice and deal with any advocacy at court hearings.

Once liability is resolved and the claim is won there are also usually trust solicitors and private case managers (usually a nurse or occupational therapist) involved to ensure the client’s financial and care needs are met on an ongoing basis. The case manager will assemble a team of private therapists and clinicians to ensure all the client’s rehabilitation needs are met and the client’s family are supported.

It is also often necessary to locate and adapt suitable housing for the client, for which housing, occupational therapy and assistive technology experts are brought into the team.


How many cases do you work on at any one time?

One of the key features of Stewarts’ serious injury work is that our solicitors usually have a smaller caseload than the norm, for which we are well known.

We therefore usually have between 10 and 15 cases at any one time. This also allows us to build close working relationships with our clients and the teams that we put in place.


How often do claims settle rather than going to court?

It’s usually about one in ten that proceed to trial. We try to resolve everything we can without ending up with a trial: a client having their day in court is not the goal for any claim.


What should a clinical negligence patient consider when instructing a solicitor?

The patient needs to consider what they are hoping to achieve. A successful claim will result in a payment of damages. We cannot guarantee an admission of liability or an apology, although we can use our best efforts to get both.

In our cases, a compensation award is calculated on the basis of what is needed to return someone to the position they were in before their injury and to allow them to live their life as closely as possible as it would have been. This is different to the system you may see in other countries where damages are awarded to punish the defendant as well as compensate the claimant. A person considering bringing a claim should be aware of that from the outset.



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Clinical Negligence page.

If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.



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