Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Stewarts Law: compensation claims in the case of clinical negligence

Following on from our article about the myth of a widespread compensation culture, we would like to build on this by focusing in particular on clinical negligence claims.

We provide an initial consultation and advice free of charge. This enables someone who is affected by a spinal cord injury to obtain legal advice without any obligation, helping them from the outset of a very difficult time.

An early review can often identify potential claims for clinical negligence, even where there may have been no initial concerns relating to any medical treatment provided. Our expertise in this field often helps us identify potential claims. These can include delay in diagnosis or treatment, sub-standard surgery, misdiagnosis or misprescription of drugs or a failure to obtain informed consent. 

All medical professional s carry indemnity insurance precisely for these reasons. Everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes in medical care can have catastrophic consequences.  Where there has been negligence in the provision of medical care and treatment, we can help identify and bring a claim that can provide valuable compensation. This can assist with care and accommodation needs, medical and other expenses and lost earnings. It can help to provide financial security and the opportunity to maximise quality of life.

Clinical negligence cases can be complex and demanding but our experience and expertise in these cases enables us to obtain exceptional results for clients. We understand that the demands of those with spinal injury are substantial and complex and therefore handle much smaller caseloads than the majority of clinical negligence lawyers. This ensures a proactive and client-focused approach.

We recently settled a clinical negligence claim for Louisa Tempest who fell heavily whilst getting into a taxi to travel to a club during an evening out in Birmingham. She was a 20 year old Geography student at university and was taken into hospital by ambulance. The hospital staff negligently failed to properly assess her and allowed her to fall from a trolley whilst in A&E. A few hours later, a junior doctor failed to properly assess her neurological condition. The junior doctor wrongly decided to discharge her whilst she could not walk properly.

Her friend had to help her into a taxi.  Her friends were unaware that Louisa was at high risk of permanent spinal cord injury. Back at her friend’s student house, Louisa was lifted onto a sofa to rest. When she awoke, she could not move or feel any of her limbs. This was because severe spinal cord injury had been caused by the dislocation of unstable vertebrae in her unprotected neck. Her friends knew nothing about this risk. Proper care in hospital would have prevented any injury.

Louisa did not realise that she might have a clinical negligence claim. Whilst undergoing rehabilitation in her local Spinal Injuries Unit, she asked Stewarts Law to prepare a Power of Attorney to allow her family members to deal with her affairs on her behalf.

Frank Pinch, Head of Clinical Negligence at Stewarts Law, advised her that she may have a claim against the Hospital Trust because of potential failures to protect her neck and take steps to avoid the tragedy which occurred.

The potential case was investigated and independent experts supported a claim. The lawyers for the Hospital NHS Trust resisted accepting responsibility on behalf of the Hospital Trust for a lengthy period. Louisa’s accident occurred in October 2010; the Trust conceded liability in January 2013.

From that point, detailed assessments of her long-term needs were carried out. Negotiations resulted in the case settling in September 2014, just over three weeks before the trial date. The precise terms of the settlement remain confidential but the amount is significant and will ensure that Louisa can pay for her ongoing care, accommodation, therapies, equipment and medical treatment for the rest of her life.

Louisa commented, “The staff at Stewarts Law have always been so professional but also caring. After a long struggle, it was a huge relief to know that I will have financial security for my future; that I will be able to have the care that I need, plus adapted accommodation and equipment. It means a great deal to me to be able to realise my freedom and independence and get on with my life with the help of the financial settlement that Stewarts Law has helped me to achieve.”

For more information on how our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence teams work closely together in order to obtain compensation for patients and their families who have suffered catastrophic or fatal injuries following negligent medical treatment, read more here.

More information about our work with SIA can be found here.

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