Success for client whose misdiagnosis cost him a career in rugby

A rugby ball
3 minute read

Photo of a young man holding his wrist

I have recently secured a six figure sum in compensation for a young man who, due to a mistake in reading an x-ray, lost the chance of a professional rugby career.

My client had played rugby to a high level and had aspirations of a professional career.  Whilst playing for his university he suffered an injury to his wrist.  He went to hospital and an x-ray was taken.  No fracture was seen but it was correctly decided to put his wrist in plaster and take a further x-ray in a few weeks’ time.  The subsequent x-ray was reported as showing no fracture, the plaster cast was removed and he was told he could return to playing rugby.

Unfortunately, whilst he did return to playing rugby, he was in considerable pain.  He ultimately returned to hospital just under a year later and a fractured scaphoid (a small bone in the wrist) was identified. The bone had receded to such an extent that bone graft surgery was required to bring the pieces back together. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and there was persisting non-union (meaning the pieces of the bone wouldn’t heal together) leaving him in considerable pain.

Around four years after the initial injury our client underwent total wrist fusion.  This resolved the pain but left him with limited movement in his wrist.  Essentially, following the fusion surgery he will now be unable to flex his wrist.

A rugby ball

He was never able to return to playing rugby and his dream of a professional rugby career was lost.

Thankfully, the hospital admitted liability for the delay in identifying the fracture and that if it had been picked up earlier then surgery would have been successful and he would have been able to return to rugby.

The claim was ultimately settled out of court at a mediation and our client was awarded a six figure sum.  The settlement recognised that he would have had a 10% chance of a premiership career and a 40% chance of a championship career.  Compensation was also awarded for the impact that the injury and the long-term consequences of the admitted failure had on his day-to-day life.

This was not always a straightforward case.  My client had previously been to another solicitor’s firm who had told him that the case had limited prospects and that, at best, the case was worth £20,000.  The real challenge came in showing his playing ability and what his professional career would have looked like.  We spoke to former team mates and coaches and also to a former international player who, whilst he did not know my client, was able to talk about the routes to a professional career and the sort of wages and other benefits he would have received.

We were grateful for the Defendant for admitting liability at an early stage and for agreeing to mediate the case.  This saved considerable time, money and avoided the need to go to court.   The Defendant had also agreed to make interim payments during the case which helped my client  immeasurably during a time when he was unable to work. Whilst the final settlement will not allow him to achieve his dream, it will give him some measure of compensation and mean that he has funds for the treatment, equipment and support that will help him in his day to day life.


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