We act on behalf of adults and children with brain injuries – from the utmost severity, catastrophic brain injuries to milder brain injuries that might not be visible on brain scans.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury between the ages of 18 and 25, please visit our ‘Young Adult Brain Injury’ web page for specialist information on the challenges faced by those who are injured during this important life-stage.
Why are brain injury claims different?
The brain is an incredibly complex organ that controls our thoughts, memories, emotions, motor skills, senses, and every process that regulates our bodies.
When things go wrong in the brain, the effects can be devastating, not just for the injured person but also for their family and friends. A person who has suffered a brain injury may start to feel isolated and/or frustrated by their ongoing difficulties, their family might find themselves with difficult caring responsibilities, and if they are able to return to work, this may be a struggle. These are just a few examples of the many issues that individuals and families might face after a brain injury.
All human brains are unique, and all injuries to human brains are equally unique. Every claim relating to brain injury needs a tailored approach to ensure the needs of the injured person are met, which is one of the reasons why it is important to have a specialist solicitor, who has experience in dealing with the complex issues that can arise in brain injury claims.
Brain injuries can be ‘traumatic’ or ‘acquired’
Traumatic brain injuries occur as a result of a trauma, or repeated traumas to the head. Causes of traumatic brain injuries include road traffic accidents, accidents at work, accidents in public or private premises, sports injuries and assaults. Concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury – traumatic brain injuries can also be moderately severe or severe/catastrophic.
Acquired brain injuries are brain injuries caused by anything apart from trauma. Causes of acquired brain injury include hypoxic/anoxic brain injury (an injury due to an interruption to the oxygen supply to the brain) such as from a stroke, heart attack, severe asthma attack, or carbon monoxide poisoning. An increase in pressure on the brain can also cause acquired brain injury – this can be due to brain inflammation from an infection such as meningitis or encephalitis, hydrocephalus (increased fluid in the brain), tumours, brain haemorrhages and aneurysms. There are other causes of acquired brain injury, including specific vitamin deficiencies.
Unlike a broken arm or leg, which is easy to diagnose, some injuries to the brain can be difficult to detect. They are sometimes described as an “invisible injury” or a “subtle brain injury”. Many brain injuries remain undiagnosed despite changes to the person’s abilities and personality.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, our specialist brain injury solicitors are experienced in dealing with the full range of brain injury claims, from catastrophic brain injuries that leave the injured person with very little ability or in a minimally conscious/persistent vegetative state, to cases where a concussion/mild brain injury has been suffered that may not be visible on a scan, but where the person still has ongoing brain injury symptoms.
We know the issues that often arise when making a brain injury claim and how to deal with them. Our aim is help you gain access to the relevant rehabilitation and support services as soon as possible, to improve quality of life for the brain injured person and their family. If you’d like to discuss a potential claim with us, contact our team today on 020 7288 4800, or form we will contact you at a time that is convenient to you.
Causes of brain injury due to accidents
Accidents causing brain injury can happen anywhere, and the impact required to cause a traumatic head injury can be relatively mild.
There are over 100,000 admissions to hospital every year due to accidents that have caused a suspected brain injury. Most of those that were caused by someone’s negligence occurred on the road or in the workplace, or due to an accident in a public place.
Road Traffic Accidents
Unfortunately, despite improvements in vehicle and road safety, many people suffer brain injuries as a result of accidents on UK roads every year. Occupants of motor vehicles (drivers and passengers), motorcyclists and cyclists are commonly injured. Pedestrians are also vulnerable to being injured on UK roads, with pedestrians regularly being hit by motor vehicles and cyclists. Seatbelts and helmets can limit the extent of a person’s injuries in many circumstances, but failure to wear a seatbelt or a safety helmet does not mean an injured person can’t claim compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a road traffic accident and would like to discuss your options, please contact us.
Accidents at Work
Employees should be able to work in a safe environment. Despite the extensive health and safety rules in the UK, thousands of people a year sustain an avoidable traumatic brain injury at work when the rules aren’t followed. Many people are unnecessarily injured in ‘higher risk’ occupations, such as manual or construction jobs. Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of people also suffer brain injuries in workplaces where there should be a lower risk of injury, for example, office or retail environments. We are very experienced in acting for clients who have suffered brain injuries whilst at work and would be happy to discuss your situation, at a time that suits you.
Accidents in a public place or on private property
Sometimes, people suffer brain injuries on public or private property. Trips and slips are common causes of head and brain injury, and although these are sometimes unfortunate accidents, there are occasions where the public authority responsible for the area, or the private property owner/homeowner, has failed to maintain a safe environment for the people who are there.
Sadly, we often speak to people who have sustained head and brain injuries as a result of a criminal assault. Although the amount of compensation that victims of brain injury from assault can receive from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is capped, the sums awarded can still be life-changing for somebody who has survived their head injuries and is living with the after-effects of the brain injury.
Sports related injuries
Head injury is a relatively common occurrence in some sports. Football, Rugby and Boxing have all fairly recently come under scrutiny for their procedures in managing head injuries sustained during participation in sport. In circumstances where the correct safety measures have not been followed, there may be basis for an injury claim.
Causes of brain injury due to medical negligence
Brain injury in adults can be caused in numerous ways through negligent medical care. Some common causes of brain injury due to medical negligence include:
Delay in receiving a diagnosis and/or treatment
A delay in making an appropriate referral to another medical professional or a delay in making a diagnosis and/or providing medical treatment can sometimes lead to brain injury. For example, strokes and brain haemorrhages can cause severe brain injury. If the appropriate treatment for these conditions is delayed, sometimes even for a matter of hours, a patient may be left with brain injury problems that would have otherwise been avoided.
The same is true for brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis – which can cause devastating injury to the brain if treatment is delayed unnecessarily.
Other situations where delay in diagnosis can lead to a brain injury:
- Delays in paramedics attending patients and/or delays in conveying them to hospital
- GP delays in referring somebody with concerning symptoms to a specialist (the person may have any number of potential medical conditions, for example, a brain tumour, hydrocephalus, stroke)
- Delays in recognising and treating specific vitamin deficiencies (such as Vitamin B1, Thiamine) which can lead to a specific type of brain injury. Thiamine deficiency can occur following gastric band surgery, and if left untreated it can lead to Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korkasoff syndrome.
- Delays in emergency or urgent treatment following a head trauma, such as when a head trauma causes a patient’s brain to swell or a bleed in the brain. If increasing pressure inside the patient’s skull is not relieved, the result can be brain injury.
- Delays in diagnosing and treating pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. If this serious condition is allowed to progress, the mother may develop fits called ‘eclampsia’ which can cause lasting damage to the brain.
These are just a few examples of the many ways in which brain injuries can be caused by a delay in diagnosis and/or treatment. In many circumstances, the sooner treatment is received, the better the likely outcome.
Brain injury during surgery or other medical procedures
The most common cause of brain injury during surgery is the restriction of oxygen to the brain whilst undergoing another procedure, usually under anaesthetic. If a patient is given an excessive dose of anaesthetic drugs, or the wrong type of anaesthetic drugs for them, their heart may stop beating (known as a heart attack or cardiac arrest), restricting oxygen to the brain which can result in an hypoxic brain injury. Careful monitoring of a patient’s vital signs during a general anaesthetic is of crucial importance, because any delays in responding to a lack of oxygen to a patient’s brain may result in irreversible brain injury.
Another type of medical procedure that can sometimes lead to brain injury is the insertion of a central line (central venous catheter). A central line is often used to provide medication, blood and IV nutrition to patients. The procedure to insert the central line can result in complications, because of poor technique. Complications of central line insertion can include heart attack and injury to arteries, which, if not recognised and treated quickly, can lead to brain injury.
Undergoing surgery to the brain (neurosurgery) will always carry a risk of brain injury and often when this happens, there has been no negligence. However, brain injuries can be caused due to a substandard neurosurgical procedure.
Medication errors are very common and unfortunately, they sometimes lead to brain injury. Examples of medication errors that may lead to a brain injury include prescribing an inappropriate medication for a patient, or giving too high a dosage. Inappropriate administration of medication can lead to things like heart attacks and seizures, which can cause hypoxic brain injury because of restricted blood flow to the brain. Conversely, a failure to prescribe or administer medication can also lead to brain injury, for example, stopping blood thinning medication, or failing to prescribe blood-thinning medication at all. This can lead to blood clots forming which may cause a stroke.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one has suffered injury to the brain as a result of clinical negligence, contact one of our brain injury solicitors who will be happy to discuss the situation with you.
Why choose Bolt Burdon Kemp for a brain injury claim?
We are recognised as a leading firm in the field of brain injury by the independent Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 guides to the legal profession, and noted for our expertise and focus on rehabilitation from serious brain injury.
The Legal 500 guide recommend Bolt Burdon Kemp and note that the firm:
“has ‘an enviable record of success’ in securing early rehabilitation.”
The equally prestigious Chambers and Partners say we:-
“Offer expertise in claims involving serious brain injuries” and that we are “experienced in handling cases involving traumatic brain injuries”.
We’re a specialist firm and we understand the importance of arranging quick and effective rehabilitation when a client has suffered a brain injury. We have established partnerships with rehabilitation and treatment providers, support organisations, and brain injury specialists who can tackle the recovery from injury straight away. Even if the person you are suing has not yet admitted fault, we can often arrange treatment and assessment.
Once the claim for compensation progresses, our focus is on obtaining payments as early as possible to relieve financial hardship and pay for treatment.