Cauda Equina Claims
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Our specialist solicitors are experienced in helping people who have suffered cauda equina syndrome to make compensation claims.
In cases where cauda equina syndrome was not spotted early enough or resulted from an avoidable incident, our solicitors can help.
We understand how difficult cauda equina damage can make life and the devastating lifelong impacts it can have.
We are here to help you find and fund the best treatment and ways to cope – to enable you or your loved one to live a life that is as full and pain free as possible despite what has happened.
Do get in touch to find out how we can help.
Do I have a cauda equina claim?
You may have a cauda equina claim if the syndrome was not spotted early enough by doctors, resulting in a delay in treatment and making your outcome worse as a result. A delay in spotting cauda equina can mean incontinence, sexual dysfunction and/or paralysis.
A valid compensation claim may also arise if you suffered cauda equina as a result of a mistake during surgery or medical treatment or a traumatic injury that was someone else’s fault – such as a car accident, accident at work, gunshot injury or violent attack.
Infection or inflammation of the spine or a tumour may also lead to cauda equina syndrome. If these things were the result of an injury that was someone else’s fault – or were due to delays or mistakes in medical treatment – you may have a claim.
In some cases, you may be able to make a claim even if what happened was not entirely the fault of someone else but they were partially to blame.
If you are unsure about whether you have a claim, we are happy to discuss your case with you and offer some initial, free, no obligation advice. Do contact us.
Cauda equina misdiagnosis
Cauda equina syndrome – the type of spinal stenosis where all the nerves in the lower back are seriously compressed – can sometimes be missed.
If medics miss red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome that they should reasonably have been expected to note, it may be deemed negligent. Cauda equina syndrome requires emergency surgery to reduce the chances of permanent paralysis and incontinence. It can sometimes be dismissed as sciatica, leading to delays.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) offers guidance of some symptoms that clinicians should look out for.
- bilateral sciatica (sciatica affecting both sides)
- severe or worsening abnormal function of the legs
- difficulty urinating (having a wee)
- loss of sensation for when bowels are full
- loss of sensation or tingling in the ‘saddle’ area – around the inner thigh and groin
- loosening of the tone of the back passage (anal sphincter).
If you had symptoms like this that were not recognised as markers for cauda equina syndrome, you may be entitled to compensation.
£2million for man whose cauda equina syndrome diagnosis was missed
We secured £2million compensation for Richard* and helped get his life back on track after he suffered devastating effects due to a delay in cauda equina syndrome treatment.
Richard was left with irreversible double incontinence and loss of sexual function due to a delay in diagnosing and treating cauda equina. He also had numbness and weakness in both legs – and clawed toes causing him difficulty with walking and balance. He was left severely depressed and feeling hopeless about the future.
After Richard suffered his injury, he could not manage his job and struggled even to leave his house. He was appalled by not being able to control his bowel and the leakages and embarrassment it left him with. He began to eat less to try to manage the problem, causing him to become malnourished. Eventually his relationship broke down.
We worked closely with Richard and his family to ensure that not only did he access compensation, but that he got the help he needed.
We organised an experienced case manager to help Richard to use his claim money to get a vast range of specific support to help him manage his physical situation and find hope for the future.
Whilst Richard will always face significant challenges due to his injuries, claiming compensation and working with us and a case worker helped him find a new future.
Richard said: “What can I say about Enable Law? You were my A-Team, in my corner every step of the way!
“It was a difficult journey and I didn’t know what to expect at the start, but you explained what was happening at each stage and were always on the end of the phone when I needed you. Katherine, you encouraged and supported me through some pretty dark times and I knew when it came to settlement that you would get the best result possible. I had complete trust in you and cannot thank you enough for what you did for me.”
Find out more about Richard’s story via: What effect can cauda equina have on your life?
*Name has been changed
NIGEL WAS NOT WARNED OF THE RISK OF CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME BEFORE HIS LUMBAR DECOMPRESSION SURGERY.
A case of cauda equina negligence
We worked with Nigel* when he suffered damage to his cauda equina during lumbar decompression surgery and was not warned of the risk beforehand.
Nigel underwent the surgery to alleviate persistent back pain. After the operation he was found to have an injury to the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord (the cauda equina).
He was left with double incontinence (i.e. he cannot control his bladder or bowel), pain on standing or walking, fatigue and erectile dysfunction. He relies on a catheter, which sometimes becomes infected and he suffers bowel pain.
His ‘cauda equina syndrome’ was not the surgeon’s fault: it is a known complication of his operation. However, Nigel was not warned of this risk before agreeing to the operation and should have been. The surgeon did not discuss any other forms of treatments and brushed aside his concerns. Nigel had very little time to make his decision and the surgeon wrongly advised that he needed surgery without delay. Had he been warned he would have been able to consider whether he really wanted the operation.
In the case of Chester v Afshar , the courts decided that a patient should be properly warned of risks. If there was a failure to warn of something that then happened and the warning would have made the patient not have surgery then and there, he or she can recover damages.
*Name has been changed.
Does making a cauda equina claim take money from the NHS?
No one should avoid making a claim due to fears around being a burden on the NHS.
Hospitals and doctors have insurance and specialist funds to cover any claims made against them because it is accepted that sometimes mistakes do happen and that, when they do, the people who have suffered are left with additional needs. Those needs can be financially costly and compensation is there to ensure people can access the support they require. That can be in the form of carers, specialist treatment, equipment and home adaptations. Compensation covers loss of earnings too.
It is a natural and common concern to be worried that making a compensation claim for medical treatment may harm the NHS – or be seen as criticising medical staff who have helped you. However, it shouldn’t hold you back. Compensation helps you to manage a life that has been changed due to a mistake or negligence on someone else’s part.
People who make a claim also have the right to continue to be treated by doctors and the NHS without the claim having any influence on the way they are viewed or dealt with.
Find out more via:
- Does claiming take money from the NHS?
- Will I be treated differently by my doctor if I make a claim?
These concerns are all ones our cauda equina lawyers are used to dealing with. We’re here to support you, answer your questions and reassure you along the way.
How much will I receive from a cauda equina claim?
Cauda equina compensation claims can be very substantial – running to hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds.
This is because the injuries suffered can be lifelong and extremely damaging, leaving a person in need of a lot of help to live a life that’s comparable to the one they would have had before the injury (albeit potentially full of different, complex and consuming challenges).
Compensation always aims to cover the costs involved in restoring a person’s life as much as possible to the level of fulfilment and opportunity it would have otherwise offered, though that is often not wholly possible.
The level of compensation an individual receives will depend on very specific, individual matters relating to their own circumstances and needs – such as whether they have lost the ability to earn in the same way as before or need a specially adapted home.
Working with a specialist cauda equina solicitor is the best way to ensure you are made aware of all the help and support that may be available to you to achieve the most comfortable future possible. Your solicitor will use this information to build a claim for ‘special damages’ – the element of the claim that covers the costs of the needs and expenses that have resulted from your injury.
In addition, your claim is likely to include an element of ‘general damages’. General damages are usually paid according to Judicial College Guidelines and are intended to compensate for pain and suffering. There are set amounts for different injuries.
In the case of cauda equina, that may mean an amount for paralysis plus an amount for incontinence, for example.
In the cases of paralysis, general damages may be up to £266,000 for paraplegia (paralysis of the lower body). Double incontinence can lead to general damages payments of up to £172,000.
What is the cauda equina?
The cauda equina is the lower part of your spine, where important nerves are collected as they branch off your spinal cord. It can be negligently damaged during a lumbar puncture procedure, by undetected herniated discs, or by fragments of bone that are unnoticed following spinal surgery. If you think the cause may be due to cauda equina medical negligence then you may have a right to claim compensation to help with rehabilitation and ensure your independence and quality of life.
Other frequently asked cauda equina negligence questions:
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