Medical negligence spinal injury claims

Most medical negligence claims can be dealt with on a no win no fee basis.

If the injury was not related to medical treatment see spinal cord injury claims.

As part of the Co-op Group our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.

Spinal injury compensation

The aim of a spinal injury claim is to secure compensation and rehabilitation support to, as far as possible, return the injured person to the position they would have been in had medical negligence not occurred.

Typical factors that affect the amount of spinal injury compensation are:

  • Whether the injury is temporary or permanent
  • Whether further medical treatment is required
  • Impact of the injury e.g. loss of independence, care and rehabilitation needs
  • Ability to return to work
  • Lost earnings/income as a result of the injury
  • Any other financial losses suffered

Every client and every spinal injury claim is unique so, as part of each spinal injury claim that we take on, a Co-op Medical Negligence Solicitor will investigate what compensation, in addition to compensation for the injury and rehabilitation needs, is appropriate.

In spinal injury claims, it is often impossible to completely put things right. But, by seeking advice and recommendations from independent medical experts, your Medical Negligence Solicitor will be able to advocate for compensation to fund adaptations to a home, workplace or car, treatment or care packages which can improve quality of life and restore some independence.

Where possible, your Solicitor will work to secure an Interim Payment (a payment made during the course of the case on account of compensation), to fund the early implementation of the medical experts’ recommendations.

Spinal injury negligence case example

Whilst the case below was not a Co-op Legal Services medical negligence case, this case* demonstrates how Medical Negligence Solicitors can work to compensate the person who has suffered spinal injuries.

The case of Mrs T

Mrs T was a 28 year old self-employed conference organiser and a photographer for a local magazine. At the time of injury she was married with 2 children. She had suffered from low back pain for around 2 years.

On 5 July 2009, whilst staying with family, Mrs T suffered an episode of severe low back pain and was taken by ambulance to Hospital. The clinician suspected that one of the discs of cartilage in the spine was damaged and pressing on the nerves and a plan that she should have an MRI scan. Despite this, she was discharged on 6 July 2009 without an MRI scan having been performed. Following her discharge, she returned home.

Mrs T’s condition deteriorated over night and the following morning she called a GP who sent her to her local Hospital. It was suspected that she had cauda equina syndrome. An MRI scan was arranged and this revealed a prolapsed disc at L5/S1.

Mrs T underwent emergency spinal decompression surgery on 8 July 2009. Despite surgery, Mrs T suffered severe cauda equina syndrome resulting in double incontinence, a loss of sexual sensation, psychiatric damage and pain and leg weakness.

Mrs T instructed Medical Negligence Solicitors to investigate whether the care provided by first the Hospital Trust was of an acceptable standard. Her Solicitors’ investigation, assisted by independent medical expert evidence, indicated that there had been substandard care by the Hospital in not arranging an MRI on 6 July 2009. Had an MRI been performed, it was likely that decompression surgery would have taken place at that stage.

Following the investigation, Mrs T’s Solicitors shared the results with NHS Resolution. NHS Resolution accepted, on behalf of the Hospital Trust, that Mrs T should have had an MRI scan and surgery on 6 July 2009.

Both parties instructed independent experts in spinal surgery to advise as to the consequences of the delay in Mrs T undergoing decompression surgery. The expert surgeons agreed that if Mrs T had undergone spinal surgery on 6 July 2009 she would not have gone on to develop the severe cauda equina syndrome but that, even with appropriate treatment, she would still have suffered:

  • some mild bowel and bladder symptoms, but this would not have obstructed her ability to work and live a relatively normal life

  • some residual disturbance of sensation in the perineum, but not the severe loss of sensation she was left with

  • mechanical back pain caused by degenerative disc disease at least at the same level as she had prior to the hospital negligence

  • some residual weakness in the left leg which would have prevented her doing heavy lifting and heavy manual work. It would not, however, have stopped her pursuing a career in photography or event management and/or organisation.

In addition to the spinal surgery experts, the parties instructed independent medical experts in the following fields to help value the claim: Psychiatry, Colorectal Surgery, Urology, Care and Occupational Therapy, Employment, Accommodation.

Compensation awarded

Unfortunately, on this occasion, the parties were unable to agree the amount of compensation so the case proceeded to trial so that a Judge could determine the appropriate amount of compensation. The Judge at trial awarded compensation for various heads of loss, including:

  • general damages £140,000
  • past loss of earnings £45,000
  • past care £3,623.40
  • past case management £5,701.06
  • future loss of earnings £261,380
  • future medical expenses £26,272.63
  • accommodation £37,997

About the spinal cord

The spinal cord is made up of nerves connected to the arms, legs, chest and abdomen. The nerves pass commands to your muscles, which allow movement, and to your organs which controls their function (e.g. bowel and bladder). The nerves also pass information back to the brain (e.g. touch, pain, temperature). The spinal cord is surrounded and protected by bone (vertebrae).

About spinal injuries

A spinal cord injury can have life changing consequences, including reduced mobility, altered sensation, loss of bowel and bladder function. The spinal cord does not have the ability to repair itself. The best chance of recovery of function following a spinal injury is through prompt medical treatment; any delay in treatment can cause a much poorer outcome for the patient.

* Case reported in the Personal Injuries Quantum Database of LexisNexis.

About Co-op Legal Services

As part of the largest Co-operative organisation in the UK, Co-op Legal Services works to ensure that our clients receive the best legal advice and support services available from our teams of personal injury and clinical negligence solicitors, legal executives and staff.

We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and several of our Personal Injury Solicitors are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Co-op Legal Services has over 600 staff working in different businesses with offices in Manchester, Bristol, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sheffield and London.