Receiving a letter from a solicitor acting for one of your patients can be a stressful and uncertain experience.
Sometimes this letter is a request for information relevant to some legal issue involving your patient.
Sometimes that legal issue may be an enquiry about your role in the care and treatment of the patient.
MIGA’s inhouse claim solicitors will ensure you receive the advice and support you need.
A letter from a solicitor might enclose court documents about a patient’s claim against you for compensation. If so, it is important to notify one of MIGA’s claim solicitors as soon as possible so that we can manage the matter for you and ensure that the deadlines associated with the court proceedings are met.
A letter from a solicitor might comprise a formal or informal notification that a claim for compensation will be made. Again, it is important to notify one of MIGA’s claim solicitors so that we can ensure that deadlines are complied with.
A letter from a solicitor might simply be a request for access to your clinical records for the patient. You should still contact one of us when you receive a letter like this because it might mean that the patient is investigating a possible claim for compensation from you.
Contact with the inhouse legal team at MIGA is easy; pick up the phone, send an email, lodge a website query or fax us. We are here to help.
We use our experience and expertise to determine whether to manage your enquiry ourselves or whether it might be best to engage an external panel solicitor. MIGA’s panel solicitors are experts in the field of medical liability as well.
If we engage a panel solicitor then they will have the day to day management of the matter. MIGA will remain closely involved, particularly to provide the instructions and direction on the matter and support you every step of the way.
Meeting with the panel solicitor
Your MIGA claim solicitor will arrange a meeting between you and the panel solicitor to talk about the matter. The panel solicitor will take detailed instructions from you and review your records so that they can advise you on defending the matter.
The panel solicitor will correspond with the patient’s solicitor and prepare any necessary court documents. They will represent you in dealings with the patient’s solicitor, so you don’t have to worry about direct contact from them.
As part of defending a claim for compensation, the panel solicitor might engage independent experts with a view to obtaining a report from them in support of your management of the patient and/or to demonstrate that your management of the patient was not causative of the alleged injury.
Another reason the panel solicitor might engage an independent expert is to advise on the value of the patient’s claim for compensation by assessing the nature of the alleged injury and the impact on the patient.
Settlement conferences and mediations
The vast majority of claims for compensation are resolved before trial. If supportive evidence is obtained for the doctor then often the resolution is on the basis the claim is discontinued, sometimes with a judgment in favour of the member or client. Sometimes however the resolution takes the form of a negotiated confidential settlement of the claim. For our members and clients resolution often brings with it great relief. Getting to a trial is extremely stressful, time-consuming and can sometimes take years from notification to judgement. Inevitably, the outcome is uncertain.
For this reason, it is usually advisable to attempt to negotiate a resolution at an early stage, and any resolution will reflect the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the claim based on the available evidence.
In many cases the parties are required by the court to attend a settlement conference or mediation before the matter proceeds to a trial.
Mediations involve the appointment of a mediator agreed by the legal representatives. Often they are a retired judge, senior barrister or a solicitor, inevitably with considerable experience in mediating medical liability matters. The parties meet over the course of hours to see if resolution of the claim can be achieved. Our members and clients do not normally attend but the MIGA claim solicitor will always attend and be closely involved. The mediator will guide the parties through a structured negotiation process and will assist the parties to identify and assess options to resolve the claim. The parties are obligated to keep the negotiations and any outcomes confidential.
The MIGA claim solicitor and the panel solicitor will liaise with you throughout the conduct of a claim to discuss what might occur and how they plan to approach negotiations. Your input is a very important part of this process.
Our panel solicitors and your MIGA claim solicitor will manage the settlement discussions.
The key take-away message is if you receive a letter from a patient’s solicitor, call one of our MIGA claim solicitors for advice and assistance.
You are in excellent hands with us.