Hospital corridor
Hospital corridor

Clinical negligence claims in Scotland

Fortunately most medical and dental treatment is carried out well.  Sometimes, however, treatment is not performed as expected or mistakes happen. Clinical or medical negligence occurs when treatment falls below the acceptable standard and causes unnecessary illness, injury or death.  If there is clinical negligence, it may be possible for you to seek compensation for the consequences you have suffered.

Treatment may have been provided through the NHS or through a private healthcare provider and can involve hospital doctors and staff, surgeons, GP’s, dentists or other specialists providing healthcare.

Legal claim for medical or dental negligence

Unlike many personal injury cases, establishing clinical negligence is extremely complicated  and the decision as to whether to pursue a legal claim should not be taken lightly.

In most cases when sub standard treatment appears to have taken place, it is helpful to seek an explanation and answers through the NHS complaints procedure described below. This can help to clarify important aspects of your care and enables us to advise you more fully.

If you have already made a complaint and still feel that you wish to discuss matters further, please complete a simple Clinical Negligence form. The more information you provide the easier it is for us to advise you. If you would rather speak to someone directly about your circumstances then please get in touch with us, however we will still require you to make a formal complaint directly.

Making an NHS complaint

Often clients contact us because they want an explanation for what has happened to them and an answer to questions that they have. Every NHS organisation has a complaints procedure and this can usually be found on the organisation’s website.

You can find out more making a complaint about the healthcare in Scotland on NHS Inform. To make a complaint, you will need to contact the complaints department at your local NHS board which you can find on NHS Inform. The NHS is obliged to acknowledge receipt of your complaint and to investigate it in a timely manner.

Complaints about NHS services must be either:

  • Within 6 months of the date on which the matter which is the subject of the complaint occurred, or
  • Within 6 months of the date on which the matter came to the notice of the complainant;
  • But normally no later than 12 months from the event.

Complaints received after this period may be investigated if the Chief Executive accepts that it would have been unreasonable for the complainant to make it earlier and where it is still possible to investigate the facts.

Once you have made a complaint to the NHS, find out what happens next.

To succeed in a claim for medical or dental negligence

To succeed in a claim for medical or dental negligence it is necessary to prove that the treatment that was provided fell below the appropriate standard of care. That standard is judged by the standard of other professionals practising in the same field. It is therefore necessary in every case to obtain an opinion from one or more medical or dental experts.

It is also necessary to prove that the unacceptable treatment was the cause of an adverse outcome and what that was. This can be very complex. Experts reports will always be required.

Instructing a specialist medical negligence solicitor

Medical and dental negligence cases are amongst the most complex cases you will find. It is important to instruct a solicitor you know is fully equipped for the task. That means instructing a specialist clinical negligence solicitor with a track record.

Chambers Legal Guide and the Legal 500 Guide review law firms in Scotland and can confirm whether the firm you wish to instruct is specialist in clinical negligence. The Law Society holds a register of solicitors accredited in this field. You can access these publications free on the Internet.

Ruth Kelliher is accredited by the Law Society as a specialist clinical negligence lawyer. She is recognised as a specialist in her field by Chambers Legal Guide. Ruth heads an experienced team of four based across Digby Brown's Edinburgh and Glasgow offices. Digby Brown is consistently ranked Band 1 in Chambers Guide to the UK Legal Profession and Tier 1 in Legal 500.

Here to help

In certain circumstances we understand that speaking about what happened can be very difficult, specifically cases involving the complicated area of childbirth resulting in Cerebral Palsy or other birth related problems. You can find further help in Birth Injuries and Cerebral Palsy.

If you would like to talk to someone about your experience, or need expert advice on a possible claim, our medical negligence team can help. Please complete a simple Clinical Negligence form and give as much detail as you can. This will assist in our ability to fully understand your circumstances and best decide the next steps to be taken. This advice is, of course, free of charge.

No win, no fee personal injury solicitors

The expression “No win, no fee” is often used in personal injury cases.  It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses. 

A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful. 

In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.

Compensate 'no win, no fee' funding

Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.

If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing

On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer

Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.

In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.

Don’t take our word for it, just read many of the court decisions and case studies on our website.

Beware of compensation offers which may be too good

We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.

  • How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
  • If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
  • Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
  • If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
  • It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
  • These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.

We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value. 

Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.

Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown

Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.

Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.

Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors

We have offices across Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr.

For further information about no win, no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.

0333 200 5926

Monday to Friday: 8am - 7pm

(Please note, local rate even from mobile)

Email enquiry form

Complete our enquiry form and we will strive to reply within 24 hours

Follow us

What our clients say about us

We put our clients at the centre of everything we do and are committed to providing the very best service. The hundreds of five star reviews we have received on Trustpilot is a reflection of this approach.

Rated Excellent
based on 2,468 reviews
Showing our 4 and 5 star reviews.
  • Rated Excellent
    based on 2,468 reviews
    Showing our 4 and 5 star reviews.
  • 5 stars
    Although it took four years for our problem to be ...
    Dorothy Love -
  • 5 stars
    Joy who dealt with our claim was very understandin...
    Helen -
  • 5 stars
    Our experience with Digby Brown was exceptional fr...
    Jacqueline Dillon -
  • 5 stars
    From beginning to end my journey was made easy by ...
    Sharon -
  • 5 stars
    Amazing work done by the medical negligence team n...
    Tousef Nazie -
  • 5 stars
    Big thank you to Trish McFadden of Digbybrown for ...
    Terry O Shea -

Enquiry Form


What is your enquiry regarding?*