Which medical negligence cases is legal aid available for?
If you obtain legal aid funding and your claim is unsuccessful, you will not need to pay anything for your legal fees.
What is legal aid?
Legal aid is the provision of government funding for claims through the Legal Aid Agency. It is available in clinical negligence claims but, since April 2013, only in the following, limited, cases:
- where a child has suffered a severe neurological injury during pregnancy, delivery or shortly after birth; and
- cases deemed to be “exceptional” by the Director of Legal Aid Casework.
Can legal aid fund my claim?
If your claim falls into one of the above criteria, you may be eligible for legal aid funding.
The Legal Aid Agency will assess your eligibility for funding by considering your “means” (what is your financial position?) together with the “merits” of the case (what are the prospects of success?).
At the time of writing, to satisfy the means test, your gross monthly income should be £2,657 or less, including a disposable income of no more than £733 per month, and your disposable capital should not exceed £8,000. However, where a claim is made on behalf of a child (for example, following a birth injury), the application must be made in the child’s name and it is only the child’s finances that are assessed.
The means test, therefore, will very rarely be an obstacle for obtaining legal aid funding in birth injury claims.
The merits test is the more complicated aspect of an application for legal aid funding. There is no simple answer as to whether a particular case will receive funding. The Legal Aid Agency will carefully consider the merits of your potential claim and, broadly, they must assess there to be good prospects of success in the case in order to grant funding.
At Ashtons Legal, we have extensive experience in making successful applications for funding to the Legal Aid Agency. If you think you or your child may be eligible for legal aid funding, we would be pleased to discuss the likely merits of your particular case in more detail.
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