Spinal injuries are common during accidents such as car crashes or sporting injuries but they can also be caused by medical negligence when mistakes are made during emergency or routine surgery and can also be caused by misdiagnosis or a delay in treating a condition.
To be able to make a successful claim for compensation because of medical negligence that led to a spinal or spinal cord injury the patient, or their legal team, need to prove that the medical professional caused the injury because of a breach of duty to the patient and also causation.
Breach of duty means that it can be proven that the doctor or nurse acted in a way that a patient wouldn’t reasonably expect them to i.e. they didn’t follow procedure or they acted in a way that other medical professionals wouldn’t have done.
Causation means that it can be proven that the patient has a new injury (the spinal injury) because of the breach of duty. If these two things can be proven then the patient will have a good chance of succeeding with their compensation claim.
Types Of Medical Negligence With Regards Spinal Injuries
The main types of negligence claims regarding spinal or spinal cord injuries are:
- Complications or mistakes made in surgery
Any operation that requires the surgeon to work near or around the spine carry an element of risk and this will be explained to the patient prior to the surgery.
If a mistake occurs during the procedure then this can result in a claim for medical negligence. Operations that can result in claims include an epidural and spinal block.
Mistakes made in surgery can lead to paralysis if the spinal cord is severed by the surgeon during the operation.
- Delay in treating a spinal injury or condition
Most conditions around the spinal cord require immediate or very quick treatment to prevent paralysis occurring. If there are any delays in treating abscesses, tumours, infections, prolapsed discs or herniated discs then it can lead to serious complications which result in the spinal injury.
If it can be proven that action should have been taken earlier then the patient would have a good case for compensation if it could be subsequently could be proven that the spinal injury was directly caused by the delays.
Misdiagnosis of a condition can also be the cause of a delay in treatment. For instance if a patient refers themselves to a GP with a back pain and the doctor provides treatment for a strain instead of an infection then the patient won’t receive the important treatment until further diagnosis is done at a later date.
Time Limits When Claiming For Spinal Injury Negligence
If a patient believes that they have a valid claim for compensation because of a spine injury caused by medical negligence then there are strict guidelines in place for making the claim. They have to lodge a claim, usually via a specialist solicitor, within 3 years of realising that the injury had occurred.
If the patient was below 18 years old at the time they became aware of the injury then their time limit begins on their 18th birthday. The only other variance from the 3 year time limit is for patients who were dealing with mental health illness at the time of the injury – they’re 3 years starts when they’ve fully recovered from their illness.
Finding A Solicitor To Make A Claim For Spinal Injuries
When claiming for compensation patients could effectively choose any solicitor but it is recommended that they use a solicitor who specialise in medical negligence claims as they will usually have experience in spinal injury claims and will know which medical specialists to use to provide specialist evidence to support the compensation claim.
It’s also worth ‘shopping around’ when choosing a medical solicitor as they will usually offer a free consultation where patients can get to discuss their case and how the solicitor proposes to proceed with their claim.
They will also be able to provide references and evidence of recent cases that they’ve dealt with that are relevant to spine and spinal cord injuries.