FAQs: Legal aid and medical negligence


Is legal aid available for medical negligence cases?

Legal aid is not normally available for personal injury cases. This means that someone who suffers an injury, disease or illness due to someone else’s fault cannot obtain public funding towards the legal costs of claiming compensation. However, there is an exception to this in the case of personal injuries caused by medical negligence.

What are the requirements to qualify for legal aid for a medical negligence case?

The requirements are as follows:
  • Unless the individual is in receipt of certain state benefits, they must pass a means test which takes into account their income and assets. Children almost always pass the means test as it relates to their own finances, rather than those of their parents
  • There must be a good chance of the claim being successful, unless it is critically important to the individual
  • The costs of making the claim should not be excessive considering the likely amount of compensation (medical negligence cases can be very expensive due to their complexity)
Depending on their circumstances, the individual may receive full or partial public funding towards the costs of bringing a claim.

What is the process to obtain legal aid?

The individual should contact a solicitor who is authorised by the Legal Services Commission to carry out legal aid work for medical negligence cases. If the solicitor thinks that they are likely to qualify for legal aid they will apply for this on the individual’s behalf to the Legal Services Commission.

Are there any planned changes that will affect legal aid for medical negligence?

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will severely restrict access to legal aid for medical negligence cases. It appears that legal aid for medical negligence will only be available for people who were severely disabled during pregnancy or within the first eight weeks after birth, and certain other exceptional cases. The Act is due to take effect in April 2013.
If you would like to obtain advice on legal aid and medical negligence, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.
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