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Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes life-long disability which can affect the individual’s ability to breathe, walk or work, to live independently or look after their own personal needs, or to communicate with others and control their environment.

From the first signs of injury to the neck, back or spine, or the first symptoms of pain, numbness or altered bladder control, the patient’s future ability to function depends on prompt diagnosis and swift action to protect the spinal cord. Where medical or surgical mistakes or delays cause permanent disability or significantly worsen an existing injury, the patient may be entitled to claim substantial compensation.

Given the complex nature of negligent medical causes of spinal cord injury and the lifelong needs that arise from life-changing disability, it is vital that spinal cord injury claims are handled by solicitors who are specialists in recovering medical negligence compensation for severe, catastrophic disability.

Our clinical negligence team has helped injured clients and their families secure the support, advice and compensation that they need to rebuild their lives after medical negligence, for more than 30 years. We are top-rated as experts in clinical negligence by Chambers Directory, the Legal 500 and the Law Society, and accredited by AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents), APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers), and SIA (Spinal Injuries Association). Each client’s claim is handled by our specialist solicitors with expertise, compassion and care. 

For spinal injury claims caused by other types of accidents, such as on the roads or at work, you can contact our serious personal injury claims specialists

Client Story | Mr Rosser

Previous cases include:

  • £1.5 million lump sum plus life-long, annual payments of £225,000pa for a client who suffered tetraplegia after falling from the hospital chair where he was left to sleep after unnecessary spinal surgery. Earlier in the case a £300,000 interim payment paid for more suitable accommodation, case management, therapies and specialist equipment.
  • £800,000 compensation for a 40-year-old man whose GP failed to examine him and diagnose that he was displaying red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome (CES). The failure to diagnose cauda equina led to delays in carrying out surgery, including lumbar discectomy and decompression. He has been left with permanent damage to his bowel and bladder, impaired mobility and sexual dysfunction. We also secured an admission of liability and letter of apology for our client from the GP.
  • £400,000 compensation settlement for a client whose red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome (CES) were not recognised by her GP or medical staff at A&E. A physiotherapist eventually recognised her condition after our client paid for a private MRI scan, and referred her to a consultant spinal surgeon. By the time surgery took place it was too late to avoid her permanent disability, including bowel and bladder incontinence, loss of sexual sensation, altered sensation around her left perianal region, buttock and left thigh. She had also suffered a psychological injury.
  • £275,000 compensation settlement for a client with a past medical history of back pain after his GP failed to diagnose red flag signs of cauda equina syndrome (CES) and refer him to hospital as a medical emergency. Three days later, when our client attended A&E, an MRI scan revealed cauda equina from a lumbar disc prolapse. He had emergency decompression surgery but was left with permanent disability, including fatigue, leg pain and weakness, and impaired urinary, bowel and sexual function.
  • £250,000 compensation for a client with a past medical history of back pain and surgery, who suffered permanent disability after hospital delays in diagnosing her signs of cauda equina. She was finally referred for emergency spinal surgery after she used her health insurance to arrange a private appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon. The delay in diagnosis and surgical treatment resulting in permanent disability from severe pain and numbness in her leg and foot, lack of sensation in the ‘saddle’ area, impaired bowel and bladder control. She also suffered a psychological injury.
  • £220,000 compensation for a client who suffered damage to her spinal nerves following negligent management of her spinal surgery. Delays in recognising post-operative bleeding (haematoma) and a clot, caused paralysis of her legs and damage to her spinal nerves leading to bowel and bladder incontinence. She made a partial recovery of the function in her legs, but has been left with ongoing disability including impaired mobility. Our client’s settlement reflected ‘litigation risks’ relating to both negligence and causation.
  • £50,000 compensation for the bereaved family of a child who was left paralysed and incontinent in the short time leading up to his death, after a delayed diagnosis and treatment of a Ewing’s sarcoma spinal tumour (cancer). 

What is spinal cord injury (SCI)?

The spinal cord is a long, fragile, bundle of nerves that run from the brain stem to the bottom of the spine, allowing communication between the brain and the muscles, organs and functions of the body. When the spinal cord is injured, this affects the flow of information from the brain to the other areas of the body.

Severe SCI, in which the spinal cord is broken or severed (cut) or damaged, causes a permanent loss of communication between the brain and the parts of the body beneath the break.

Spinal cord injury is always serious. It leads to permanent sensory impairment, loss of function and disability. The higher the level of injury on the spine, the worse the injured person’s disability and overall outcome.

What kind of disability from spinal cord injury (SCI) can lead to a medical negligence compensation claim?

After medical mistakes cause spinal cord injury, the injured person’s lasting disability usually depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How high up the spine the injury occurred;
  • The severity of the injury - whether the spinal cord was compressed (squeezed) or severed (cut);
  • How soon the condition leading to the spinal cord injury, such as cord compression from a slipped disc or tumour, was recognised and diagnosed;
  • The amount of time that it took before surgery took place to decompress or stabilise the spine;
  • The patient’s treatment, such as the way they were positioned, immobilised and transported to hospital.

We can recover compensation for clients after medical and surgical mistakes leave them with disability from spinal injury/SCI, usually involving a combination of the following:

  • Paralysis:
    •  Tetraplegia or quadriplegia – paralysis (loss of control and sensation) in all four limbs and torso;
    •  Paraplegia – paralysis of the lower half of the body; 
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Impaired motor control (movement of muscles) and mobility (ability to walk, run);
  • Loss of sensation, altered sensation, numbness;
  • Weakness in arms and legs;
  • Peroneal nerve injury (foot drop);
  • Chronic pain and muscle spasms;
  • Problems with bowel function; 
  • Problems with bladder and urinary function;
  • Sexual and reproductive difficulties;
  • Cauda equina syndrome (CES);
  • Spinal fractures;
  • Psychological injury arising from their spinal injury and disability.

What kind of medical mistakes lead to a spinal injury compensation claim?

Medical negligence compensation claims can arise from mistakes at every stage of a patient’s treatment.  The mistake may cause the injury, fail to recognise and treat it in time to prevent further injury, or make an existing injury significantly worse. In some cases, it is the failure to obtain informed consent for a procedure by advising the patient of a risk which later gives rise to a claim.

Spinal cord injury compensation claims can arise from mistakes made by:

  • GPs;
  • Ambulance staff and paramedics;
  • Accident and Emergency (A&E) staff;
  • Hospital doctors;
  • Nurses;
  • Surgeons;
  • Anaesthetists;
  • Chiropractors;
  • Physiotherapists;
  • Osteopaths.

Common mistakes which lead to medical negligence compensation claims for disability from spinal injury include:

  • Lack of informed consent about the risks and benefits of surgical treatment;
  • Delays in diagnosis or misdiagnosis of red flag signs and symptoms of cauda equina syndrome (CES);
  • Delays in diagnosis and treatment of spinal cord impingement from spinal tumours, abscesses, haematoma (bleeding/clots), ischaemia or prolapsed (slipped) disc;
  • Delay in diagnosis and treatment of infection;
  • Delays in referral for MRI scans or specialist (neurosurgical) review;
  • Delays in carrying out urgent treatment, such as surgical decompression;
  • Misinterpretation of xrays or scans;
  • Surgical mistakes, incorrect surgical technique, positioning and monitoring during surgery;
  • Incorrect nursing care;
  • Incorrect manipulation during chiropractic, physiotherapy or osteopathy treatment;
  • Failing to immobilise the spine or incorrectly positioning and moving a patient after suspected spinal injury;
  • Incorrect administration of anaesthesia, such as epidural;
  • Negligent injection of medication/dye into the spinal cord.

What compensation can be claimed after spinal injury from medical negligence?

Each client’s compensation is carefully calculated to compensate their losses and meet their needs, now and in the future. The amount of compensation depends on the client’s injury and disability, the impact it has had on their life, ability to work and live independently, and their individual circumstances.

As soon as the defendant healthcare provider’s liability (fault) is established, we secure substantial interim (advance) payments to start meeting our client’s needs for care, equipment, therapies and adapted accommodation straight away.

Depending on the individual client’s condition and the cost of meeting their needs, their final settlement may include compensation for:

  • Pain, suffering and disability;
  • Costs of rehabilitation;
  • Costs of care;
  • Case management costs;
  • Costs of therapies, such as:
    • Physiotherapy;
    • Occupational therapy (OT);
    • Speech and language therapy;
    • Hydrotherapy;
    • Psychological counselling.
  • Cost of surgical or medical treatment;
  • Loss of earnings and pension;
  • Increased costs of suitable accommodation or home adaptations;
  • Adapted vehicles, wheelchairs, mobility aids and transport costs;
  • Specialist equipment;
  • Assistive technology;
  • Special educational support (SEN) (if a child).

Meet your team

Susan Brown

Partner

Richard Money-Kyrle

Partner

Julie Marsh

Senior associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Sita Soni

Associate - solicitor

Tara Byrne

Solicitor

Ben Ireland

Solicitor

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Aimee Gaston

Trainee Solicitor

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

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Spinal cord injury claims cases

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"Very Professional "

Boyes Turner helped me through one of the toughest times in my life. They were very professional whilst remaining friendly. At times the process was emotionally tough but they were very patient with me and went through everything with me until I understood it. I cannot recommend them enough. 

Boyes Turner Client

"We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough"

Words cannot express how grateful we are to Susan and her team for the level of commitment and dedication shown to our family during a time which would be difficult for anyone. Susan demonstrates a calm professional manner which helped us to feel at ease. Her level of knowledge has proven to be the best in the field and we fully recommend her to anyone seeking to investigate birth injury claims. You can be confident that Susan and her team will scrutinise the medical notes thoroughly and will keep you well informed throughout the process. We are very pleased with the outcome of our child’s case and know that her work has resulted in justice being achieved. Our family will now be able to move forward in the knowledge that the finances are securely in place for our child to receive a suitable care package, purchase equipment and receive necessary lifelong therapy. We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough.

Boyes Turner Client

"I would like to say a huge thank you to Fran Rothwell"

I would like to say a huge thank you to Fran Rothwell for the exceptional work that she has carried out on my behalf. She is knowledgeable, efficient and has great attention to detail.Fran has kept me informed throughout the entire process and has been a great support to me, always being at the end of the phone, or on an email, whenever I needed her. She truly wants the best for her client and is passionate about getting justice. Fran also has a kind and compassionate nature and takes her time to explain what is going on in a clear and simple way. This has been extremely helpful to me during a difficult time.It is certainly reassuring having such strong women behind me.

Boyes Turner Client

"The journey with Julie was interesting! "

From a speculative inquiry to a life changing award, the journey with Julie Marsh was interesting. Julie kept me informed along the way explaining exactly what was going on and more importantly why. The team that was assembled certainly knew their stuff which meant I got all the necessary support to keep going. Thank you all. 

Kevin Ridsdale

"Successfully negotiated a full and fair compensation"

Boyes Turner staff were always helpful and quick to respond. Communicating from the other side of the world presented no problems. Boyes Turner secured generous early interim payments that allowed me to continue my (non-funded) medical treatment that otherwise I could never have afforded. My Boyes Turner solicitor successfully negotiated a full and fair compensation and continuation of funding for future medical treatment and associated costs giving me great peace of mind. Thank you so much Annabelle! I would recommend Boyes Turner solicitors. They are professional, courteous and helpful. 

Brian