‘Harry’ – Life changing injuries following clinical negligence

Case handler: Ben Priestley (Senior Solicitor)

Our client was a hospital patient who failed to undergo an urgent MRI scan which would have revealed a spinal epidural haematoma (an accumulation of blood which compresses the spinal cord). Such a diagnosis would have led to early surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and the prospect of a full recovery. As a result of the delay our client sustained permanent paraplegia resulting in him being paralysed from the waist down.

Detailed below are a range of problems that our client experienced as a result of this incident:

  • Paraplegia;
  • Four grade 4 pressure sores;
  • Frequent spasms causing pain and discomfort;
  • Wheelchair dependent;
  • Social isolation;
  • Reduced opportunities to rekindle or take up leisure activities;
  • Frustration and anxiety about the situation and his prospects.

After being transferred to various hospitals after the incident, our client was finally discharged from a regional spinal centre 10 months after the incident.

As a result of Serious Law commencing legal proceedings which led to an admission of liability from the Defendant (the hospital), we were able to secure a significant interim payment that enabled our client to pay for private treatment and rehabilitation at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital. After discharge from the private facility, our client was able to use his interim damages to pay for specialist case management, private support and specialist therapy in his home.

Features of our client’s case

This case involved significant preliminary investigations and obtaining expert evidence to establish a breach of duty (where the hospital fails to meet the standard of care required by law) as a result of multiple failings in the medical treatment provided including:

  • Failing to arrange and carry out an urgent MRI scan; and
  • Failing to arrange referral for urgent neurosurgical opinion following onset of paralysis and urinary retention.

As detailed above, we started legal proceedings which resulted in the Defendant admitting liability in full, however, the value of our client’s claim remained in dispute, and the case was listed for a trial at the High Court.

We obtained evidence to value our client’s claim from medico-legal experts covering:

  • Spinal Injuries & Rehabilitation;
  • Physiotherapy;
  • Care and Occupational Therapy;
  • Assistive Technology (device, software, or equipment that helps people work around their challenges);
  • Clinical Psychology;
  • Accommodation (appropriate housing).

Following the collation of this evidence, a comprehensive schedule of our client’s losses was prepared and provided to the Defendant on a ‘without prejudice’ basis.

Where we added value as serious injury specialists

Our representation of our client has included:

  • Investing heavily in the case before legal proceedings were issued, to allow for a complete and supportive range of medical evidence to be compiled;
  • Forensic analysis of the medical records to address the myriad of complex medical issues and undertake the breach of duty and causation assessment;
  • Drawing on our experience and utilising our established network of the most highly regarded medical experts and leading barristers;
  • Arranging timely case management and privately-funded intensive medical treatment for our client’s debilitating pressure sores;
  • Securing interim payments totalling several hundred thousand pounds following the liability admission, which were used to finance private medical treatment and purchase a bungalow property to convert into suitable accommodation.

Why Serious Law was one of a select handful of firms uniquely able to handle the matter

Serious Law’s experience of dealing with these cases allowed for a skilled and experienced team of liability experts to be assembled and subsequently instructed to prepare detailed reports. The expert team consisted of:

  • Consultant Neuroradiologist;
  • Consultant Neurosurgeon;
  • Consultant Physician;
  • Consultant in Emergency Medicine;
  • Consultant Surgeon in Spinal Injuries & Rehabilitation.

Through detailed instructions, discussion between the experts and key conferences with our leading barrister, a persuasive body of expert evidence was compiled. This enabled us to compile a detailed Letter of Claim to the Defendant explaining our client’s case, court documents and schedule of our client’s losses.

The settlement

After the comprehensive Schedule of Loss was prepared and provided to the Defendant, the parties agreed to explore settlement through a Joint Settlement Meeting.

Our client’s case was settled shortly afterwards for a multi-million pound settlement to allow our client to maximise his independence, health and quality of life.

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