Success Stories for Spinal Injury Cases

You are now reading our Spinal Injury Claims success stories.

£1 million for failure to diagnose and treat a spinal haematoma (clot)

Our client required spinal surgery to relieve lower back pain and some leg pain.  Following the surgery, our client developed severe pain and became incontinent.  The surgeon was initially unconcerned but eventually a decision was made to re-operate.  A spinal haematoma (a blood clot within the spinal cord) was found and subsequently removed and it was expected that our client would recover well as the haematoma had been removed within the appropriate timeframe and before irreversible damage had been done to the spinal cord.

Unfortunately, our client did not improve as expected and instead there was a gradual worsening of her symptoms including reduced sensation and reduced power in both legs.  Despite these concerning features, the surgeon did not arrange for an urgent MRI scan to be undertaken to investigate the ongoing problems.  It was only when a physiotherapist reviewed our client 3 days after the second surgery and was so concerned that she ordered an ambulance to take our client for an urgent MRI scan as there were limited scanning facilities at the hospital where the surgery took place.

The MRI showed that there was another spinal haematoma which had to be urgently removed.  Unfortunately our client still suffers from symptoms which continue to have a significant effect on her daily life including mobility as well as bladder and bowel function.

During the course of our investigations we discovered that our client was on long term Naproxen which had not been stopped prior to the first surgery and it continued to be prescribed by the hospital following the first and second surgery which at least contributed to the development of the haematoma.

Unfortunately, the Defendant denied liability and the claim was very robustly defended throughout.  Through our contacts with various organisations we were able to fund the purchase of a mobility scooter in the early stages of the claim.  This enabled our client to participate in various leisure activities.

We secured damning witness evidence from a member of the hospital staff who looked after our client.  Shortly after disclosing this witness evidence, the Defendant initiated settlement negotiations and the claim was successfully concluded with our client receiving £1 million in compensation.  The compensation will allow our client to pay for the additional care she now needs, substantial house adaptations, mobility equipment and future holidays.  Our client was very pleased with the outcome and relieved to have settled the claim without the need to attend a seven-day long trial.

£575,000 for failure to diagnose neck displacement in 76 year old

Our client was 76 years old when he began experiencing symptoms of neurological deterioration including numbness in his hands and a deterioration in his walking.  This was put down to his diabetes and other health problems.  He suffered a fall the following year and was taken to his local hospital where a CT scan of his neck showed a displacement in the bones in his neck at the very top (C1/C2 level) but it was considered to be an old injury and he was discharged.  He continued to deteriorate but again, it was assumed that his ongoing problems were all as a result of other ongoing health issues.  Eventually his condition became so serious that he lost power in all four limbs requiring care which was provided by his family.  Our client also experienced additional secondary complications including incontinence and bowel problems.

This case had previously been dealt with by another firm of solicitors who dropped the case very suddenly and close to the time when court proceedings had to be issued.  The Spinal Injury Team at Bolt Burdon Kemp took over the case and successfully issued court proceedings.

In the course of our investigations, we discovered that the dislocation in his neck had in fact been present on two earlier scans and both of these scans were misinterpreted.  Despite this, the case was strongly defended by the Defendant hospital but shortly before trial the parties were able to come together for a joint settlement meeting.  As this meeting was during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown it was held remotely using video-conferencing but this did not affect the successful outcome and a settlement of £575,000 was agreed.

Our client and his family were delighted with the outcome given that the Defendant’s previous (and only) offer was at a lowly £50,000 on the basis that our client would have had significant needs due to his other health issues in any event.  However, we were able to produce robust expert and witness evidence to the contrary.  Our client’s compensation included  funds to allow him to employ carers to provide him with support, purchase aids and equipment and undergo private medical treatment.  The compensation will allow our client more freedom than he has had in recent years and improve the quality of his life.

Swift settlement for elderly man’s family, after injury in road accident 

We successfully secured a settlement of £70,000 on behalf of the estate of an elderly gentleman who suffered a spinal cord injury following a road traffic accident.

Our client was injured when crossing the road.  He suffered a serious spinal cord injury to the cervical region of his spine resulting in serious disability.  Whilst still being treated in hospital, he sadly died.  The cause of his death was related to the injuries he sustained during the accident.

We were instructed to investigate both the personal injury claim and a potential clinical negligence claim.  We regularly deal with both types of case and used our experience to swiftly investigate and rule out the clinical negligence claim at an early stage.  This allowed us to act expeditiously on the personal injury claim.

The Defendant insurer tried to settle the case for a low sum early on.  We were proactive in valuing our client’s claim and our robust communications with the Defendant insurer secured an increased offer that accurately reflected the injuries and trauma sustained by our client and his estate, within 18 months of the accident.  This provided much needed closure to our client’s family.

£1 million for 81 year old left paralysed after spinal surgery

Our client was 76 years old when she needed to have a laminectomy (a form of spinal surgery) to decompress a very calcified disc in her thoracic region.  When our client woke up from surgery she had lost all sensation and movement from T8 down and she was left with complete paraplegia, which was not reversible.

We obtained evidence to show that the extent of our client’s calcified disc was so severe, the surgery should have been undertaken with the utmost care by someone who was experienced in these types of medical conditions.  We argued that it should have been undertaken by a neurosurgeon instead of a spinal orthopaedic surgeon or alternatively that neurosurgical input should have been sought to help plan such complex spinal surgery.  We also argued that the surgeon undertaking the surgery did not perform the surgery to a reasonable standard and did not give himself enough space to work on our client’s spine, which could have helped avoid him injuring her spinal cord.

The NHS Trust for whom the surgeon worked denied liability throughout the claim, however they agreed to attend a settlement meeting and offered to pay our client compensation amounting to £1 million when capitalised, which included annual payments of £150,000 to provide for her care for the rest of her life.

Failure to diagnose and treat discitis leaves 76 year old man paralysed

Our client sustained a complete spinal cord injury at T5 when he was 76 years old.  He had been unwell for a few weeks and his GP strongly suspected he may have discitis (a type of spinal infection), so his GP wrote a letter to the hospital explaining his suspicions and suggested that an MRI was performed urgently.  The hospital did carry out the MRI, which confirmed the diagnosis of discitis, but no action was taken to treat the infection.

The spinal infection became worse and our client slowly became paralysed over the next five days.  The hospital failed to appreciate this new development, which should have been flagged as a medical emergency.  By the time the hospital realised the severity of our client’s symptoms, it was too late – by then our client’s paralysis had become permanent and irreversible.

We obtained reports from a variety of experts to demonstrate the numerous acts of negligence on the hospital’s part, including evidence which stated that if our client’s MRI results had been interpreted correctly, he would have received prompt treatment which would have stemmed the infection and completely avoided his permanent paralysis.

Nowadays it is very rare for someone to die from sustaining a spinal cord injury itself, however someone with a spinal cord injury is more likely to sustain secondary complications which can reduce their life expectancy.  Sadly, our client contracted pneumonia (which is 19 times more likely if you have a spinal cord injury) and passed away three years after becoming paralysed.

The NHS Trust accepted full responsibility for our client’s spinal cord injury, provided a Letter of Apology to the family and agreed to pay £250,000.  This reflected the injuries sustained by our client, the care which he needed for 18 months when he returned home, the cost of the adaptations to his home and extra costs he sustained as a result of his spinal cord injury for the last three years of his life.  Had our client not contracted pneumonia and passed away, his claim would likely have been for a seven-figure sum, due to the levels of care and treatment he would have needed for the rest of his life, which the compensation would have paid for.

£475,000 for 70 year old who developed horrendous pressure ulcers

We secured £475,000 for a client who sustained over ten horrendous pressure sores, as a result of which he has remained in hospital for seven years.

Our client sustained three to four pressure ulcers within ten days of being admitted to hospital for the fall which caused his SCI.  Before the pressure ulcers were fully healed, our client was moved to a specialist spinal injury unit to commence rehabilitation.  He did not receive proper care for his existing ulcers, causing them to worsen. More shockingly, further ulcers developed.

Of the ten pressure sores our client developed, several were grade 4 in nature, the most severe type.  Our client developed complications from the pressure sores, meaning that he was unable to fully commence his spinal rehabilitation, was extremely ill and has never been able to leave hospital.

We successfully argued if it hadn’t been for the negligence of the two hospitals, our client would have been able to return to his home and adapt to his spinal cord injury with minimal assistance.  As a consequence of the negligence, our client now requires a permanent tracheotomy, very high levels of care and high tech equipment to help prevent further skin breakdowns from occurring.

This is one of the most shocking cases we have seen in relation to pressure sores.  It serves as a reminder to all who care for those at risk of developing pressure sores, as to how quickly one can escalate and the vital importance of prevention and close vigilance to ensure such devastating injuries are avoided.

Our specialist spinal injury team were able to represent our client because we understand the complexities of having a spinal cord injury and the vulnerabilities and consequences our client faced as a result of the pressure sores.

£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.

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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