Fatal accident news


60 seconds with a medical negligence lawyer

Over the following year we will be sharing a series of question and answer articles about our day-to-day lives in the medical negligence team. This week, it’s Rachel Carey's turn, a solicitor in the team.

Rachel qualified in April 2016 and joined the Clinical Negligence team at Boyes Turner in November 2016. Rachel’s clients have suffered obstetric and gynaecological injuries, Erb’s palsy, pressure sores, disability resulting from delayed diagnosis and treatment of cancer. She acts for the bereaved spouses and children of patients who have died as a result of negligent medical care.

  • What made you choose a career in clinical negligence?
    The driving force behind my decision to study law and specialise in claimant clinical negligence work was my desire to help David, rather than Goliath. I have a keen interest in medicine and enjoy using my skills and expertise to help our clients get back on their feet or live a more fulfilling and stress free life following a medical accident. I find it incredibly satisfying to be in a position which allows me to guide clients through the legal process which I know many will find daunting and overwhelming.
  • Which personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work? 
    It is really important for a clinical negligence solicitor to have empathy, be able to show understanding and have the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. As the majority of the medical accidents we deal with cause life changing injuries which devastating consequences to our clients and their families, I ensure that I always bear that in mind and treat them sensitively and patiently.
  • What is the most rewarding part of your work? 
    I recently met with a young client’s Mum on a case where the hospital had admitted liability. She told me how relieved she was to know that, as a result of the compensation, her son, who has cerebral palsy, would be looked after and taken care of for the rest of his life when her and her husband were no longer able to. She was excited to be able to move into a more appropriately sized and adapted home which could cater for her son’s needs. I could see how much that meant to her and to know that the work I had been a part of had helped was incredibly rewarding and made me realise even more how important the work we do is for people.

Santa's little bikers need safety advice under the tree to go with their new wheels

Children are cycling on our busy roads at a younger and younger age, many from the age of five, according to new research from local child cyclist’s safety charity Cycle-Smart

With the Christmas peak in bike and helmet sales now upon us, the charity - as part of its #FiveSs campaign - is visiting schools across the Thames Valley to increase parent's and children's awareness of the need for properly fitted helmets and safer cycling practice - to mitigate risk of serious injury or death if new bikes and helmets are not accompanied by more effective, simple guidance on head protection and road safety. 

The national research from Cycle-Smart surveyed over 1,700 children in England aged 5-9, and found:

More than one in seven (15%) of 5-6 year olds now cycle on roads where there are cars;

The figure rises to 37% of 7-9 year olds;

Amongst boys in the 7-9 year old  44% were more likely to cycle on the road compared to 23% of girls;

Only 70% even own a helmet, and only 47% wear them every time they use their bike.

The last 6 months of road data (January- June 2017) shows a 24% increase in serious child cycling casualties compared to same 6 months last year.

Boyes Turner is proud to have sponsored a video for Cycle-Smart, released today, which gives simple to follow tips on helmet fitting and cycle safety.   

A snap-survey conducted last month by Cycle-Smart volunteers of 350 children, including 120 in the Reading, Newbury, Slough and wider Berkshire area, has revealed a worrying failure of children to wear properly fitted helmets:

Over 60% of under six-year-olds did not have straps secured properly under the chin or with the Y-shaped straps fitted correctly around the ears;

Over a quarter of under six-year-olds did not have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

For 6-14 year olds, over 40% didn’t have straps positioned and secured correctly, and 18% didn’t have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

Angela Lee, Founder and Chief Executive of Cycle-Smart, says:
"A lifetime of happy, healthy cycling is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their child. But a bike without a well-fitted helmet and the common-sense advice and training necessary to share the road with cars, vans and trucks could lead to unnecessary anguish. We're urging parents, bike shops and those responsible for educating our children to use the roads safely to come together to make sure this Christmas's bike bonanza leaves a safe and happy legacy in the New Year."

Claire Roantree, Trustee of Cycle-Smart and Partner at Boyes Turner LLP, says:
"Thousands of new bikes will be under the tree this Christmas. They're gifts that will create happier, healthier, more independent kids. However, it is an unavoidable fact that some of these bikes will lead to accidents. The risks shouldn't stop kids getting freer and fitter on their bikes. But it would be reckless if a major part of the gift wasn't parents, bike shops and schools coming together to ensure helmets are always well-fitted and advice is provided to the ever-younger kids sharing the roads with cars. We urge all parents of child cyclists to watch the Cycle-Smart video."

Croydon Tram Crash

The tram that derailed in Croydon on 9th November resulted in the death of seven people. It is known that the tram was travelling at three and a half times the speed limit when it approached a curve in the track, causing it to derail. In addition to those who died, eight people were taken to hospital with serious or life-changing injuries, including amputated limbs.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the tram, which was carrying 60 people, was travelling at 43.5mph in a 12mph zone. Initial inspection showed the driver did apply the brake after coming out of the tunnel but only enough to reduce his speed from 50mph to 43.5pmh. It was stated in RAIB’s report that there was no evidence of any track defect or obstruction on the track.  The investigation also found no malfunction of the braking system. The driver was subsequently arrested and is on bail on suspicion of manslaughter.

Transport for London (TfL) has offered to pay for the funerals of those who died but came in for criticism after it was revealed the families had not been told about it in person. It is expected there to be significant number of claims by people who were injured, and families of those who died in the accident. However, investigations are currently ongoing and the British Transport Police has appealed for witnesses. Solicitors for some of the families have called for the inquiry to be made public, saying TfL and the tram operator’s parent company First Group should move swiftly to accept blame and offer pay-outs. They have also said, if the insurance companies are proactive, payouts could begin as soon as the cause of the crash has been determined. However, if the insurance companies decide to fight the claims then it could be years before the victims or their families see any money. Depending on the outcome of the investigations, compensation to the victims will be provided by either TfL or First Group.

Tram accidents on such a scale have been rare in Britain, with the last passenger death in a crash having occurred in 1959. But since the crash MPs have called for the RAIB to consider whether safety systems that exist on national rail and tube networks, such as automatic braking, should be implemented for trams or light rail too.

Zarqa Rasab, of specialist personal injury firm Boyes Turner LLP, comments:

“This is an exceptionally tragic incident which could have been easily avoided. As a commuter myself, I do put my safety in the hands of others on a daily basis and rightfully expect to be safe. The driver, along with TfL & First Group owed a duty to take such care of its passengers and to ensure they were safe. It is clear that this duty was breached, leaving a devastating result”.

"We had never heard about Sepsis. Perhaps if we had, we would have spotted the signs..." - Matthew's story

Sepsis is a life threatening condition.  It causes 44,000 death per year in Britain.

The UK Sepsis Trust is committed to raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of #Sepsis both with the public, and with medical professionals.  We are supporting The UK Sepsis Trust in the work that they do, and are honoured to have recently been asked to become a corporate partner of the charity.

Who knows how things might have been different for Matthew and his family, if they had been aware of the symptoms of #sepsis…

Failure to diagnose sepsis

In August last year, Matthew Parkes and his wife were in Majorca with their four year old daughter when Matthew fell ill.

Matthew, a 39 year old former competitive swimmer, developed a sore throat the day after arriving in Majorca. By the following day, Matthew had pain all over his body, and his wife took him to a local public hospital.

Matthew was already displaying some of the tell tale signs of sepsis including shortness of breath, chills and a fever. Although with hindsight Matthew should have been given antibiotics to fight the infection, he was sent away with diazepam. Matthew had in fact developed pneumonia, triggered by a streptococcus infection, and it started to invade his lungs.

Matthew’s pain got worse and he developed pain in his stomach, chest and back.  He recently told the Daily Mail about his experience, reporting a common feeling in sepsis survivors, he felt like he was dying. Matthew’s stomach became badly distended and his skin was purple and blotchy.  His breathing remained rapid and he had a high temperature.  These are all typical signs of sepsis.

Delay in sepsis diagnosis

Matthew’s wife was so worried she took him to a nearby private hospital, who immediately identified that Matthew was suffering with sepsis.

Matthew was transferred into intensive care in a hospital in Palma for emergency kidney dialysis.

Matthew was then placed into a medical induced coma, and was unconscious for seven weeks.  During that time he was transferred back to Manchester, and admitted to the Wythenshawe Hospital. When Matthew came round, his wife had to break the news to him that both legs would have to be amputated approximately seven inches below the knee.  Matthew also had to have a further operation to remove nearly all of the fingers and a third of the palm of his left hand.

Both Matthew and Pamela had never heard of sepsis before Matthew was taken ill.  Speaking to the Daily Mail recently they said “..if we’d known then what we know now, perhaps we’d have spotted the signs and asked doctors to check for it”.

Matthew has recently added his voice and his story to that of Melissa Mead, whose one year old son William tragically died from sepsis in 2014.

Asbestos and the Olympian - A wrestlers battle with mesothelioma

The Olympic games in Rio are in full swing and everyone from around the world is enjoying watching World and Olympic records being broken and their home nation Olympians bringing home medals.

What is not known by many is that a famous Olympian unfortunately suffered from pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos related disease which led to his untimely death.

The Olympian was Terry McCann, the American wrestler.

Terry McCann’s wrestling career

Terry was from Chicago, Illinois and had a fantastic wrestling career which included  winning three consecutive AAU National Championships and posting the only undefeated international record of his time, as the only man to go undefeated against the Russians.

Terry McCann flipping his opponent on his way to yet another victory.

Terry was first selected for the 1956 Olympic Team but did not go because he was in school and wanted to complete his education.

Terry then begun to suffer from knee problems and was at risk of not being selected for the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.  The American Olympic Committee however were keen to enlist Terry as they did not want to lose medals to the Russians and Terry was eventually awarded a place on the 1960 American Olympic team.

Terry lost his first match on points but went on to win a succession of matches including against his Russian rival and received a 1960 Olympic Gold Medal for Wrestling.

Terry’s mesothelioma

Terry McCann with his Olympic gold medal

In 2004 Terry begun to suffer symptoms of chest pain and breathlessness.

Terry had a successful career in surfing and also in wrestling coaching.  Both activities kept Terry extremely fit and because of this he initially refused to acknowledge his symptoms and simply dismissed them as being due to age.

Sadly in 2005, Terry was diagnosed as suffering from malignant mesothelioma of the pleura.

Terry was able to recall working in an oil refinery in the late 1950’s for a few weeks whilst training for the Olympic games so he could support his young family.  Terry stated he would come home from work in the evening with fine silvery dust in his hair and clothes which he later found out was asbestos.  Terry had no idea this asbestos dust would cause him to suffer from a terminal disease.

Terry went on to become an outspoken critic of the asbestos industry and CEO’s of the American corporations that mined asbestos, that manufactured asbestos products and that imported or exported asbestos products.

Terry said, “They knew it would kill, but they sold it anyway, and made money. There’s a word for that. Eventually, the bad guys will be tried by the highest court, and they will pay.”

Terry sadly passed away as a result of his mesothelioma in 2006.

The 2016 Olympic games in Rio

Asbestos is now more controlled in most countries, though sadly not in all.  It is hoped that Terry’s recent asbestos related death combined with the Rio Olympic games may cause the asbestos industry to reflect on the dangers of working with asbestos and result in stricter asbestos working guidelines, or perhaps even a complete ban on the use of asbestos, something Boyes Turner would support.

Mesothelioma and other cancers - is there a link?

According to research carried out by a team of international scientists, who examined the cases of more than 5,000 mesothelioma sufferers around the world, mesothelioma victims have a higher risk of developing other cancers.

Incidence of other cancers in mesothelioma patients

Research has found that there was a higher occurrence of kidney cancer within a year after a mesothelioma diagnosis. For all other cancers, although the occurrence was still higher than normal, development typically occurred a year or more after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Those who had kidney cancer first were the most likely to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis within a year.  Those with other types of cancers were more likely to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis more than a year after their original primary cancer.

Asbestos linked to other cancers

Studies have also linked asbestos in the development of kidney cancer. Asbestos can be ingested as well as inhaled and asbestos fibres can enter the bloodstream as well as the lymphatic system and travel anywhere in the body.

Asbestos is the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma and can be linked to lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural thickening and pleural plaques.

Whilst compensation is not recoverable for pleural plaques in England and Wales, compensation may be available for mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening.

Coroner concludes that neglect directly contributed to death of 62 year old man from septicaemia

The failure of staff at the Royal Derby Hospital to administer the correct antibiotics before and after an operation resulted in the death of man from septicaemia, an inquest has concluded.

Paul McCandless, Assistant Coroner for Derbyshire, concluded that neglect ‘directly contributed’ to the death of 62 year old Simon Tulitt, who died three days after an initial operation for colon cancer.

The Coroner also ordered Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to report regularly for the next 10 months on progress into ensuring that a system was in place to prevent repetition.

Trust managers have apologised to the family of Mr Tulitt and insisted that lessons have been learnt.

Our specialist solicitors have many years of experience of representing clients in sepsis claims so do contact us and we will advise you whether we feel that you have a negligence case.

Over 11,000 mesothelioma deaths in the past 4 years

I have always read the latest asbestos mortality figures published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) with a heavy heart. In the latest figures, published in October 2015, the figures across a four year period were analysed. A total number of 11,011 deaths where mesothelioma was found to be an underlying cause were recorded in England and Wales with the number of deaths from mesothelioma increasing every year.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive lung cancer nearly always caused by breathing in asbestos dust. Mesothelioma can be caused by very low levels of exposure to asbestos.

Each death has a devastating impact on the family and friends of a loved one so to read that deaths are being recorded in such high numbers and that these numbers are increasing is very disturbing.

Women and children exposed to asbestos

It is of particular concern to us as asbestos claims lawyers as we are noticing that more and more women and those that were exposed to asbestos at a young age, for example whilst attending school as pupils, are being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

It is also worrying as this is just the number of reported and recorded deaths. Of the 2,500 mesothelioma cases in England and Wales each year one wonders how many additional cases were not diagnosed? We are instructed in cases every year where there was no diagnosis of mesothelioma in lifetime, even following a post mortem. Yet subsequent expert analysis of tissue samples (these are not available in every case) confirm that the correct diagnosis was in fact mesothelioma.

Clearly asbestos has left a devastating legacy within the UK and more work needs to be done to ensure everyone gets an accurate diagnosis and access to personalised treatment.

Lack of information on mesothelioma clinical trials

After my clients are diagnosed with mesothelioma they tell me how difficult it is for them to access information about clinical trials and research into mesothelioma. Almost every one of my clients is keen to enter a trial if deemed suitable and they want to help develop research into the condition.

Mesothelioma UK is an excellent charity which provides very helpful information about the current trials in England, Scotland and Wales. Even if clients are, for whatever reason, not suitable candidates to join a trial, the knowledge that these trials are taking place is very encouraging.

The importance of this was really brought home to me when I listened to Mavis and Ray Nye speak at the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses in Windsor in November 2015. It was truly inspiring to hear Mavis’ wonderful story and how she described gaining access to a trial (the last space on that particular trial as it turned out) as being thrown a lifeline.

Hugo Boss UK sentenced following the death of 4yr old in Oxfordshire store

Hugo Boss UK Ltd has recently admitted Health & Safety breaches following the death of a 4 year old boy who was crushed to death in their Bicester Village store when an 18 stone mirror fell on top of him. 

Tragically, Austin Harrison suffered head injuries after the unsecured mirror in a changing room came down on top of him while his father was trying on a suit.

Austin suffered irreparable brain damage and was taken off life support 4 days later.

An Inquest, which took place earlier this year, returned a narrative verdict saying that the mirror should have been fixed to the wall and the wall should have been reinforced. Coroner Darren Salter, stated that this was, “an accident waiting to happen”.

Kim Smerdon, a Personal Injury Partner at Boyes Turner, says:

“This is an exceptionally tragic case which could have been easily avoided. The owner or occupier of stores such as this has a duty to take such care, as is reasonable, to see that visitors will be safe in using the premises. It is clear here that Hugo Boss UK Ltd did not take such steps”.

Hugo Boss UK Ltd is due to be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court later this month after pleading guilty to one offence of an employer failing to ensure the health and safety of a person other than an employee and one offence of contravening a Health & Safety Regulation.

Six figure compensation for widow following tragic cyclist death

A cyclist was tragically killed after cycling in a charity event and hitting a pothole. His surviving spouse was awarded compensation from the council who failed to repair the pothole.

The deceased cyclist hit the pothole and was sent into the air and in the way of an oncoming vehicle, he died immediately following impact.

The police had asked the council to repair this particular pothole on several occasions, however nothing had been done. Further warnings were giving by traffic officers to the Council to do something about it but still nothing was done.

Inspection of the road did take place a few weeks prior to the fatal accident however repairs were never initiated. An inquest took place which confirmed that the deceased death could have been avoided had the repairs been carried out. The road in question was an A-road and, by law, needs to be inspected monthly. The defect was identified before the accident but not repaired.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found that the council should not be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter or any other charges.

Cases involving accidents caused by potholes are not straightforward claims. Each case is determined on the facts. Inspection in these matters by the Council who are responsible for doing so is paramount. Inspection records and details can be requested from the Council to ascertain whether the defect had been identified or not and whether repairs had been authorised. Defendants will be found liable where they have breached their obligations to inspect the roads as per the law and failed to complete reasonable repairs in reasonable time.

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