Success Stories for Spinal Injury Claims

You are now reading our Spinal Injury Claims success stories.

£5.3m for 15 year old left paralysed following negligent scoliosis surgery

Our client, at age 15, sustained a spinal cord injury leaving her tetraplegic at C6/C7. This occurred following scoliosis surgery to correct the curvature of her spine.

Our client also had a rare and complex pre-existing condition which compromised her ability to walk and left our client prone to bone fractures. Prior to the scoliosis surgery, our client was able to care for herself and could walk short distances.

Unfortunately medics failed to give our client appropriate care during the surgery, which resulted in her becoming tetraplegic (paralysed from her neck down) over a period of 36 hours.

Our client was left unable to walk at all. She lost the full use of her arms which were previously unaffected and now suffers from bowel and bladder dysfunction, has autonomic dysreflexia, sexual dysfunction and is confined to an electric wheelchair. She needs life-long care and requires a full care and therapy package.

A catalogue of errors occurred with the medical treatment which included:

  • Undertaking the operation in a hospital which did not carry out scoliosis surgery and therefore did not have spinal cord monitoring available;
  • Holding out that a ‘wake up’ test was as effective as spinal cord monitoring in detecting early intra-operative neurological abnormalities;
  • Maintaining our client’s blood pressure during surgery below the acceptable level which in turn contributed to our client’s spinal cord ischemia;
  • Failing to realise the above problems had occurred;
  • Failing to carry out proper neurological observations post-operatively which would have revealed the problems at a much earlier point in time before the onset of the paraplegia and before our client sustained a complete spinal cord injury.

The Defendant denied liability throughout the claim but agreed to pay a capitalised sum of £5.3 million by way of damages to our client and provide a letter of apology.

Our head of spinal injury, Raquel Siganporia who is herself paralysed, provided legal, emotional and practical advice, enabling our client and the family to gain information from a wide range of sources whilst the claim was disputed by the Defendant.

Following the life changing settlement in 2016, our client has been able to pay for professional care instead of relying on relatives; is able to fund therapy and equipment not available on the NHS; and is looking to purchase an adapted home to enable independent living.

£2m for Urological dysfunction with Conversion Disorder presenting as a Spinal Cord Injury

Our client, aged 47, was a passenger in a vehicle which was involved in a road traffic collision with another driver. Our client walked away from the collision but over the following days developed bladder and bowel symptoms and eventually a Conversion Disorder, which is a serious psychiatric condition. Our client had sustained urological injuries in the collision but his Conversion Disorder presented as a spinal cord injury causing him to become unable to walk and wheelchair bound.

Our client was wheelchair bound, experienced daily bladder and bowel dysfunction requiring catheterisation and had extensive care needs. He required adaptations to be made to his home to ensure it was wheelchair accessible, as well as a professional care regime, specialist equipment, physiotherapy and occupational therapy input and treatment for his injuries.

The claim was disputed and defended on the basis that the injuries caused by the road traffic collision were “trivial” and that consequently the claim had a low value. However, we continued to fight the claim and it was eventually conceded that the negligence caused our client to develop the urological dysfunction and Conversion Disorder. The Defendant nonetheless maintained that the injuries related to the Conversion Disorder were likely to resolve with extensive treatment in the future.

We negotiated a life-changing settlement in May 2014 of £2,000,000, which takes into account the complexity of this condition. This is one of the highest settlements ever achieved for urological dysfunction with a Conversion Disorder injury.

£1m with annual periodical payments of £50k for delayed diagnosis of discitis

The Claimant developed infective discitis following complex spinal surgery. There was a delay in diagnosing the infection and consequently effective treatment for the infection was not implemented for over a month.  As a result of the delay in diagnosis and treatment, the Claimant was left with chronic leg, back and hip pain, severely restricted mobility and substantial disability. He is incapable of work or any significant domestic activity. Our specialist medical negligence solicitors negotiated a life-changing settlement shortly before trial comprising of a lump sum of £1 million and annual periodical payments of £50,000 (linked to earnings inflation) for the lifetime of the Claimant.

£536k for Conversion Disorder presenting as Spinal Cord Injury

The Claimant sustained a lifting accident at work aged 22 years old. The Defendant in the claim was the Claimant’s employer. She developed a Conversion Disorder, namely a serious psychiatric condition, which in this case presented as a spinal cord injury. Because the Claimant presented as though she had a spinal cord injury, she had all of the needs of someone who is physically spinally injured. The Claimant was wheelchair bound, unable to walk, experienced daily bladder and bowel dysfunction necessitating catheterisation and had extensive care needs. The Claimant required adaptations to be made to her home to ensure it was wheelchair accessible, a full care package, specialist equipment, physiotherapy and occupational therapy input and treatment for her injuries.

The Defendant employer heavily disputed the Claimant’s claim, stating that the injuries for which it was responsible were trivial and of a value of no more than £20,000. However, we continued to fight the claim hard and the Defendant employer eventually conceded that they were responsible for the Claimant developing the Conversion Disorder but maintained the position that her injuries would have occurred in any event at some point in the future due to the nature of Conversion Disorders and the Claimant’s pre-existing conditions.

We negotiated a life-changing and substantial settlement in November 2013 of £536,000, which we understand to be one of the highest settlements ever achieved for a Conversion Disorder case.

Delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome

The Claimant underwent a discectomy to relieve symptom of sciatica. Following the operation the Claimant complained of pain, urinary incontinence and sensory loss. She was advised her symptoms would resolve over the next two weeks, but that she should contact her own GP if her condition worsened or failed to resolve. The Claimant subsequently attended A & E where Cauda Equina Syndrome was diagnosed. An urgent transfer was arranged so that she could undergo an MRI scan and further surgery to relieve the spinal compression.

Unfortunately the Claimant was left with substantial loss of sensation in the peri-anal area, loss of sexual function and double incontinence as well as reduced mobility. She was unable to return to work. We secured a substantial and life-changing settlement, claiming for a full care and therapy package, the cost of adaptations to the Claimant’s home, also necessary equipment and for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

Rescuer falls on railway line leaving her permanently paralysed

The Claimant climbed over the rear garden wall of her local authority house to rescue a child stuck on a ledge on the railway cutting wall. She fell and broke her back. She became paralysed and had a young daughter to care for. We directed a claim against both the railway authority and the local authority both of whom denied liability until the morning of trial. After some negotiation at court we secured a substantial and life changing settlement to enable Mrs M to adapt her house and to meet her needs for the future.

Failure to diagnose spinal cord compression

The Claimant underwent a discectomy at her local hospital for back and leg pain at the age of 44 years. She suffered compression of the nerves afterwards due to bleeding and the formation of a blood clot in the spinal column which was not diagnosed. This resulted in partial paralysis from the waist down and she was incontinent of urine and faeces. We secured a substantial and life-changing settlement, claiming for a care and therapy package, loss of earnings and compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

£290k for Student nurse who suffers serious spinal injury at work

We acted for a student nurse who injured her back at work after working on a very busy ward which was chronically short staffed. The Claimant slipped on a wet floor at work and injured her back. Gradually her back symptoms deteriorated and she was admitted to hospital due to numbness in the lower part of her body and an inability to pass urine. She underwent emergency decompression surgery to her spine but unfortunately there was a delay and she was left with permanent injuries which meant that she was unable to control her bladder or her bowel naturally due to Cauda Equina Syndrome. She therefore had to self catheterise and use medication to open her bowels for the rest of her life.

We instructed an expert spinal surgeon who said that in his opinion the delay in spinal surgery was negligent and led to her symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome being more severe than they would have been had she received timely surgery. Therefore it is likely that she would have suffered from some permanent symptoms even if there had been no delay in her surgery. We obtained an interim payment for our client while the litigation was progressing and issued separate court proceedings in relation to the two accidents at work and the negligent treatment. We obtained £290,000 compensation for the Claimant as a result of the accidents at work and alleged negligent treatment.

Spinal injury following accident abroad

Mr J suffered serious injury to his spine whilst on a windsurfing holiday in Egypt. He fell from a hammock which had been poorly secured, landing heavily on raised cobble stones. The hospital in Egypt suspected that Mr J may have suffered a fracture to the vertebrae in his back and as a result of his injury, Mr J was forced to spend the rest of his holiday lying flat on his back.

We brought a claim for personal injury against the tour operator who organised Mr J’s holiday. Liability was eventually admitted by the tour operator in respect of the claim. Mr J was examined by a spinal surgeon and a consultant in pain management. It was considered that he had not in fact fractured his vertebrae but that he had suffered a severe soft tissue injury to his spine. The experts believed that the accident had exacerbated a pre-existing but asymptomatic degenerative condition by a period of 26 years. The experts considered that it was unlikely that Mr J would ever be able to return to his hobby of windsurfing and that he would be disadvantaged on the open labour market. The experts considered that the Claimant would require lifelong physiotherapy to manage his continuing symptoms. We were successful in obtaining £30,000 in compensation which would fund Mr J’s continuing treatment.

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