Personal Injury Success

Clinical Negligence Claim Success for Claimant Left With Life Changing Injuries 

Crosse + Crosse Solicitors LLP have just succeeded in a claim for clinical negligence against the Royal Devon + Exeter NHS Foundation Trust following a three day trial in August in the County Court at Exeter.

Mrs J underwent spinal surgery in July 2010, following which she was left with significant complications. She instructed Crosse + Crosse to purse a claim against the Hospital Trust for clinical negligence. That claim was brought on the basis that:

(1)   The surgery had been carried out negligently; and/or

(2)   She would not have consented to the operation going ahead if she had been advised of the surgeon’s identity.

Mrs J had assumed that her operation was to be carried out by a highly experienced consultant spinal surgeon with a leading reputation in this field only to discover, on the day of the operation, that he would not be operating and then, post-surgery, that the operation had actually been undertaken by one of the consultant’s assistants.

The Court found that Mrs J was entitled to be told who was to carry out her surgery but that she had not in fact been informed of her surgeon’s identity and that this amounted to a breach of the duty of care that the Hospital Trust owed to her. The Court found that, whilst the operation had not been carried out negligently, it was likely that Mrs J would have had a better outcome had the surgery been performed by the more experienced surgeon.  Mrs J recovered substantial damages to reflect the serious complications which had arisen from the procedure.

Richard Stevinson, who acted for Mrs J, said: “ We are delighted for Mrs J that her claim succeeded. It was a long and hard fought battle.  It is unfortunate that the defendants chose to maintain their defence of this claim to the very end so that Mrs J had to endure a three day trial to win her case, to be compensated properly for the serious injuries she sustained.”

He added: “This is an unusual case. It is notoriously difficult for a claimant to win a claim based on an issue of consent, so this could prove to be an important landmark decision for other claimants in the future. If a patient is not advised of the identity of the surgeon carrying out their operation and the outcome from surgery is not as good as they had expected it to be, then the patient might want to consider seeking specialist legal advice.”

Previously,  if the claim was successful the legal costs of pursuing a personal injury claim were paid for by the other side, with the claimant receiving 100% of the compensation. Changes to the law will mean an injured person may find that up to 25% of the damages awarded to them are being used as payment for legal fees.

With claimant's now having to in part  fund their own claims the actual amount of compensation received will be significantly eroded. Levels of compensation in England and Wales are not generous, and this change in the law will see them fall even further. This could increase the chances of claimants falling into debt as a result of their injury and subsequent inability to work, something the compensation was originally designed to prevent.

Furthermore, these changes are likely to make it harder for people to find solicitors to take on their compensation claim if the claim is seen as risky, or the likely compensation is of low value.

To avoid these problems don't delay, get advice now – the clock is ticking!

Crosse + Crosse are happy to help with any Clinical Negligence or personal injury matters. Please feel free to contact a member of our Personal Injury Team on 01392 207603.