If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury due to an avoidable medical mistake they you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
A brain injury can result in devastating and catastrophic consequences for the patient and their families. The impact can cause life changing injuries which in turn can leave the patient totally dependent on others to care for their day to day needs.
Impacts of a catastrophic brain injury
The brain is one of the most sensitive and important parts of the human anatomy as it controls body function, mood, speech and emotions. The severity of an injury can vary leaving the patient with debilitating physical and mental disabilities.
Symptoms from a brain injury and head trauma include:
- Constant headaches
- Convulsion and seizures
- Vomiting and nausea
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in arms and legs
- Agitation, anger and personality change
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of speech
- Loss of movement
- Sensory impairment
- Memory loss
- Damage to eye sight
This can be caused:
- During surgery
- Delayed diagnosis or incorrect treatment
A head injury will warrant immediate investigation and it is usual for the victim to have a CT Scan as the failure to investigate can leave the victim with cognitive disorder after a traumatic brain injury.
Types of catastrophic brain injury medical negligence claims
Babies with brain injury can go on to develop cerebral palsy. This can be devastating in some case where the child may need 24/7 care due to their inability to walk or talk. This can be caused when the brain is starved of oxygen during birth. If the damage was caused due to a medical mistake then it is important to seek justice as these children often require specialist care for the rest of their lives.
A misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis or treatment of stroke can also leave the patient with long term disabilities including loss of speech.
Acquired brain injury
This can happen when the injury is caused by pressure on the brain through a tumour or a neurological illness.
Traumatic brain injury
This can be an external injury caused by say a blow to the head.
Congenital brain injury
This is where the injury is caused during either birth trauma or due to genetic causes and the consequences can be very devastating.
This is a weak area in the wall of the artery that supplies blood to the brain. In some cases the brain aneurysm can release blood into the skull causing a stroke. Patients can be left with speech and mobility difficulties often with long term care needs.
This is a serious condition where blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain. It is usually caused by a head injury. Symptoms can include a constant headache which progressively gets worse. If there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment the consequences can be fatal.
Delayed diagnosis of an infection
Patients can sometimes acquire infections that have nothing to do with the condition for which the patient was originally admitted for. Many hospital infections can be preventable such as MRSA, pneumonia and urinary tract infections. If this causes trauma to the brain which was preventable then you may have a claim.
Bacterial and viral meningitis can happen to anyone regardless of their age and this can be fatal if not treated correctly and promptly. At least one in three patients will be left with long term complications. If there is a delay in diagnosing the patient can be left with permanent cognitive, speech and physical impairment,
This is an uncommon type of stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain. It’s a very serious condition and can be fatal. One in every 20 strokes can be a sub-archnoid haemorrhage. Left untreated or diagnosed late this can leave the patient with life -long impairment.
Head and spinal injuries
Damage to the back can result in paraplegia and damage to the neck can result in tetraplegia. Any trauma to this most sensitive part of the body can leave the patient with loss of function on multiple levels.
What support is available?
If the trauma was caused through medical negligence and the claim is successful you will secure damages for pain, suffering and expenses.
In addition, rehabilitation support could be sought such as assistance from:
- Occupational therapist
- Speech and language therapist
- Care and nursing experts
- Rehabilitation aids and support
- Transport cost
Caring for someone with a serious brain injury requires expert advice and the funds to pay for the support required. If compensation is recovered this will go some way to helping the patient and their family manage the consequences of the mistake.
What damages you may recover if your claim is successful?
- Damages for pain and suffering for both physical and psychiatric trauma
- Loss of past and future earnings
- Cost of care and assistance
- Prescription and medical treatment fees
- Cost of adaptation in the home and transport costs
- Out of pocket expenses
- Specialist care aids and appliances
- Costs of assistance for household chores
- Travel expenses to and from hospitals for medical treatment
There are approximately 900,000 medical accidents in the U.K which occur either in the NHS or private hospitals. This means thousands of people suffer needlessly due to medical / clinical negligence.
How to prove medical negligence?
In order to succeed in making a claim the law requires the Claimant to prove
1. That the standard of care received was well below that of a reasonable competent health care professional in that field of medicine. This is known as breach of duty of care.
2. That as a result the Claimant has suffered a physical and psychiatric injury as a direct result of the care they did receive or did not receive. This is known as causation.
Both these tests must be proved in order for a case to succeed so if breach of duty is proved but causation cannot be proved then the claim will not succeed.
What are the time limits in medical negligence claims?
There are strict time limits in law and it is important that if you think there was negligence you seek legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity.
The law allows the Claimant three years from the date of the negligence or from the date of knowledge from when the claimant became aware of the negligence. If the Claimant is not able to confirm the date of knowledge then it is best to assume that the three years period runs from the date of the incident so as to ensure the claim is made within the 3 year Limitation period otherwise the claim will be out of time.
There are exceptions to this time limit-
- For a child claimant who is under the age of 18 the 3 year period does not start to run until their 18th birthday. This means they have until their 21st birthday within which to make a claim otherwise their claim will be out of time. This means their claim must be settled or Court proceedings must be issued before their 21st birthday to avoid the claim being time barred.
- Where a Claimant does not have mental capacity
- Where the Claimant suffers a temporary mental disability then the time does not run until mental capacity returns
Where the person injured dies the three year time limit runs from the date of death provided the original medical negligence claim is not time barred by the time of death.
What are the steps for making a claim?
If you believe you have suffered medical negligence at the hands of the NHS, or any other health care provider, then these are the steps for making a claim:
- Establish that medical negligence has occurred and as a result of which you have suffered damage.
- Make a complaint to the NHS Complaints team or to the relevant G.P. practice or private care provider, within 12 months of the incident taking place or within 12 months of you becoming aware of the negligence, this being within 12 months of your date of knowledge.
- Send a formal letter of complaint, if on receipt of their reply you remain dissatisfied, take legal advice.
- As your Solicitor we will gather evidence of your case before we put forward a civil claim for compensation against the negligent healthcare provider. If your case has merits and the defendant dispute your claim then we may advise you to proceed to Court if we cannot settle the case without litigation.
What is the NHS complaints procedure?
As most cases are against the NHS it is possible for you to submit a complaint within 12 months of the negligence before pursuing a compensation claim. You can do this by sending a letter of complaint yourself to the hospital whom you hold to blame, this will cause the hospital to investigate your complaint and provide a response to your letter of complaint. This is something you can do yourself but if you would like us to assist you then we can do this for a fixed fee. If on reviewing the response we consider you may have an arguable claim then we may agree to waive the fixed fee.
How claims are funded?
There are various ways to fund this claim-
- Legal aid / public funding this is available for some birth injury claims such as cerebral palsy and erb’s palsy claims.
- No win no fee agreement, this is a Conditional fee agreement with the benefit of a before the event or after the event insurance policy to protect the Claimant against any adverse costs
- Legal expenses insurance
- Trade union membership
We can assist you on a no win no fee basis with the benefit of an insurance cover to protect you against any adverse costs.
What to do next?
If you would like to have an informal chat with our Clinical Negligence experts in confidence to see if you have a viable claim then please complete the contact form and we will give you a call back at a time convenient to you or please call/ contact Daxa Patel, Clinical Negligence Partner & Solicitor by contacting us on 0330 107 0107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we are contacted by you, one of our helpful team members will contact you.