- The case of Mr S who received compensation of £536,420.00
- The case of Mr W who received compensation of £595,268.00.
Using these medical negligence cases as examples, Daniel identifies the factors that affect the amount of NHS payouts for medical negligence cases involving spinal injuries.
1. The Spinal Injury Case of Mr S
Mr S was a 39 year old window cleaner. He was very active, enjoying football, cycling and weight training. He underwent elective spinal surgery (an occipito-cervical procedure) under the NHS and, as a result of negligence during the procedure, he lost control of all of his limbs (tetraplegia). His condition improved to an extent but he was left with permanent impaired movement and was unable to return to work.
Mr S instructed specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors to investigate a claim for spinal injury compensation. His Solicitors investigated the claim and obtained independent expert medical evidence. The Defendant argued that the expert medical evidence it had obtained showed that the majority of the problems Mr S faced were as a result of a pre-existing condition that had not been diagnosed prior to the operation (ankylosing spondylitis).
The case went to trial. The Judge found that 60% of the problems faced by Mr S were as a result of the negligence. By the time the trial took place, Mr S was aged 46 years old. The Judge made the following awards, amongst others:
- Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (plus interest): £64,464
- Past loss of earnings: £67,978
- Future loss of earnings: £103,776
- Medical expenses: £20,295
- Travel expenses: £14,560
- Aids and equipment costs: £25,809
- Past and future care costs: £199,000
- Accommodation related expenses: £41,105
In total, Mr S received an NHS compensation payout of £536,420.00 as a result of the avoidable spinal injury.
2. The Spinal Injury Case of Mr W
Mr W was a 22 year old promising golfer who suffered complications after planned spinal surgery. He suffered injuries to his back and lower limbs. As a result of the negligence, he developed bowel and urinary problems. He was unable to walk without crutches and suffered sexual dysfunction. As a result of his injuries and his inability to return to golf, Mr W became depressed.
The NHS admitted liability for the spinal injuries.
The NHS paid the following amounts of compensation:
- Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (plus interest): £78,320
- Loss of earnings: £321,341
- Travel expenses: £500
- Care costs: £54,489
- Ancillary items including heating, clothing and footwear: £33,750
- Viagra: £7,500
- Other special damages: £74,307 (interest of £16,110)
In total, Mr W received an NHS compensation payout of £595,268.00 as a result of the avoidable spinal injury.
Differences in the Way the Compensation was Calculated
In our Medical Negligence Claims Guide we looked at the 2 different components of compensation and the different factors that affect how much medical negligence compensation is paid. Both of these cases involve spinal injuries and permanent disability but there are considerable differences in how much compensation was awarded for different areas of loss. We consider here the amounts awarded in respect of general damages and loss of earnings.
As the nature of the spinal injuries and the impact on the patients were similar, one would expect the compensation to be the same. In fact, Mr W received £15,000 more than Mr S in relation to the pain, suffering and loss of amenity he had suffered as a result of the negligence.
The amount of compensation for general damages are found within a tariff system, even so there can be considerable differences in compensation when different factors are taken into account. The likely factors that resulted in the £15,000 difference here are:
- Mr W was younger at the time of injury
- In the case of Mr S, the negligence was only responsible for 60% of his ongoing problems.
Loss of Earnings (Special Damages)
One of the largest differences in relation to special damages is for loss of earnings element. Mr S received £171,754 whereas Mr W received £321,341. The likely factors that resulted in this £150,000 difference are:
- In the case of Mr S, the negligence was only responsible for 60% of his disability
- Mr S was a window cleaner, the Judge took into account possible period of unemployment and made reductions to the total amount of likely loss of earnings
- Mr W was a promising golfer, it is likely that he would earn more per annum that Mr S
- Mr W was only 22 years old at the time of injury, he therefore had many more working years ahead of him and therefore many more years of earnings loss.
The total figures awarded in these spinal injury cases were very similar but when the different awards are analysed we can see that the level of compensation is dependent on the circumstances of the injured person. If Mr S had been a 25 year old doctor or banker, for instance, he would have recovered significantly more compensation than Mr W.
When bringing a medical negligence claim, it is crucial to instruct specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors, as Mr S and Mr W did, to investigate the claim and calculate what is the right amount of compensation you should receive.
At Co-op Legal Services our client’s information always remains confidential. The above cases were not dealt with by our Medical Negligence Solicitors but were reported in the Personal Injuries Quantum Database of LexisNexis.