If you or a loved one has suffered from a medical mistake or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm and losses you have experienced. However, pursuing a legal claim can be costly and daunting, especially if you have already incurred significant medical expenses and ongoing care needs.
That`s where a conditional fee agreement (CFA) may come in handy. A CFA is a type of funding arrangement that enables you to engage a clinical negligence solicitor without paying any upfront fees or costs. Instead, your solicitor will agree to take on your case on a “no win, no fee” basis, meaning that if you don`t receive any compensation, you won`t owe any legal fees.
CFAs can provide greater access to justice and support for those who might not otherwise afford to pursue a claim. They can also offer peace of mind to those who are worried about the financial risks and uncertainties of going to court.
However, not all CFAs are created equal, and it`s essential to carefully consider the terms and conditions of any agreement before signing on the dotted line. Here are some key things to keep in mind when seeking a CFA for clinical negligence:
1. Understand the success fee
Under a CFA, your solicitor will typically charge a “success fee” if you win your case. This fee is a percentage of the compensation you receive and is designed to cover the solicitor`s costs and time in pursuing your claim. Success fees are usually capped at a maximum percentage (currently 25%) and must be agreed upon in advance.
It`s crucial to understand the success fee and how it will affect your compensation. Make sure you ask your solicitor to explain the fee structure and provide a clear estimate of what you can expect to pay if you win your case.
2. Check for hidden costs
While a CFA can help you avoid upfront legal fees, there may be other costs and expenses that you will still need to cover. These can include court fees, medical reports, and expert witnesses. Make sure you understand what costs your solicitor will cover and what expenses you may need to pay out of pocket. It`s also a good idea to ask for a breakdown of potential costs so you can budget accordingly.
3. Look for a specialist solicitor
Clinical negligence claims can be complex and challenging to navigate. Therefore, it`s essential to find a solicitor with the right expertise and experience in this area of law. Look for a solicitor who specializes in clinical negligence and has a proven track record of success in handling similar cases. You can also check for accreditations and professional memberships, such as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) or the Law Society`s Clinical Negligence Accreditation Scheme.
4. Consider the risk of losing
While a CFA can offer a no-win, no-fee guarantee, there is still a risk that you may lose your case. If you do, you will not be entitled to compensation but may still be liable for some costs, such as the other party`s legal fees. Make sure you understand the risks and potential outcomes of your claim before proceeding with a CFA.
In conclusion, a conditional fee agreement can be a useful tool for pursuing a clinical negligence claim without upfront legal costs. However, it`s essential to carefully consider the terms and conditions of any agreement and seek advice from a specialist solicitor before proceeding. By doing so, you can ensure that you have the best possible support and representation for your case while minimizing the financial risks and uncertainties.