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Working with Solicitors in Clinical Negligence - Dr Mark Burgin

26/10/22. Dr. Mark Burgin BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP explains why the solicitor’s role is underestimated both in terms of its importance and the range of skills required.

A successful solicitor makes their job look easy by solving problems before others become aware of them and planning for every eventuality.

Part counsellor, part detective and part document manager the solicitor turns chaos to order using a range of techniques as diverse as their role.

The Generalist expert has skills in many of the same areas as the solicitor which are complementary and can make a solicitor’s job more straightforward.

Generalists have training in psychological issues and are usually happy to chat about a case on the telephone without raising an invoice for their time.

Manage the claimant’s psychological issues

Many victims of medical accident suffer from psychological injury which makes the solicitor’s first role listening to them tell their story and helping them face their pain.

It can take months or years for a claimant to recover sufficiently to be well enough to make a claim and the initial conversation can be stressful for both parties.

As the case proceeds the solicitor must explain that the law does not work in the way they expect and later that their expectations of quantum may be too ambitious.

The best solicitors recognise that the best way of solving some areas of stress to allow the claimant and the generalist expert speak about the case together.

Find where the evidence is hidden

It is a rule that the key piece of evidence will be the only thing that is missing from the records and further that no one will notice it is missing until the day before court.

The best experts will list the necessary evidence and where the solicitor can find it but if there appears to be a missing piece then asking the expert saves time.

Inevitably the claimant will be asked to remember which hospital, pharmacy or nurse they attended on more than one occasion before they can provide useful information.

The generalist expert can often assist with knowledge of the likely referral patterns or qualifications that an individual will have and other details that can shorten the search process.

Paperwork including money

Medical experts are concerned if it looks as if they will not get paid, but they rely upon the solicitor to make certain that the disbursements are reasonable to the value of the case.

An expert is usually in the best position to assess the likely value of a claim and a screening report obtained from a generalist expert before the case starts can guide decisions.

Letters of claim and other paperwork typically involves medical details which need to be accurate if they are to be effective at communicating the case.

Solicitors find that medical experts can help ensuring that what is alleged is medically possible and provable by the evidence.

Conclusions

Solicitors have difficult roles in clinical negligence that can be made easier by working closely with their generalist expert to find solve their problems.

Solicitors are used to working collaboratively with colleagues and have natural talent in making the best use of colleague’s expertise.

Cases where medical experts understand what the roles the solicitor has and how they can be of help usually have better outcomes and less surprises.

The solicitor is at the centre of the clinical negligence case like a director of a film, outside of the picture but perhaps the most important character.

Doctor Mark Burgin, BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP is on the General Practitioner Specialist Register and audits medical expert reports.

Dr. Burgin can be contacted This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 0845 331 3304 website drmarkburgin.co.uk

Image ©iStockphoto.com/ericsphotography

This is part of a series of articles by Dr. Mark Burgin. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand.

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The opinions expressed in the articles are the authors' own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand. 

Professional advice should always be obtained before applying any information to particular circumstances.

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