Brain injury medical negligence can cause a lot of trauma and have major effects on a person’s life. A wide range of severe symptoms can be experienced as a result of a brain injury. Such symptoms could potentially remain with someone for the rest of their life and require regular treatment.
If you’ve suffered a brain injury due to negligence by a medical professional or hospital that owed you a duty of care, then you may be entitled to claim compensation for this. If somebody else close to you has been harmed in this way, you may be able to claim on their behalf if they are a child or lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.
In this guide, we’ll discuss how compensation claims can be made for brain injuries caused by medical negligence.
For free legal advice on claiming for medical negligence, you can contact Medical Negligence Assist today. You can reach us online through our live chat service or our claim online form. You can also choose to call us on 0800 652 3087
Select A Section
- What Is Brain Injury Medical Negligence?
- What Are The Symptoms Of A Brain Injury?
- Diagnosing Head And Brain Injuries
- Treatment And Rehabilitation
- Types Of Brain Injury Medical Negligence
- Causes Of Brain Injury Medical Negligence
- Cerebral Palsy
- Time Limits For Brain Injury Medical Negligence Claims
- Brain Injury Medical Negligence Compensation Calculator
- Brain Injury Victim Support
- No Win No Fee Brain Injury Medical Negligence Compensation Claims
- Get Legal Help About Your Case
- Head Injury Statistics
- Further Support And Resources
- FAQs About Brain Injury Medical Negligence
Brain injury medical negligence refers to incidents where a patient suffers a brain injury due to negligent behaviour by a medical expert or healthcare body.
When a medical professional or hospital is diagnosing or treating a patient, they owe that patient a duty of care. As part of their duty, hospitals and their medical staff should take all reasonable steps to ensure they provide the minimum standard of care to patients (at least).
If a medical professional fails to do what they can to maintain this standard of care, then they could be considered negligent and in breach of their duty of care. This issue can potentially have serious consequences for a patient being treated at the time.
Brain injuries are among the most severe consequences of medical negligence. Even if a patient’s brain isn’t being treated at the time, certain health issues that could be caused by medical negligence could ultimately lead to a brain injury. For instance, medical negligence could lead to an infection, such as meningitis, which can permanently damage the brain.
The symptoms of a severe head injury or brain injury can vary. If they are observed in someone, then that person should get immediate medical attention. A serious head injury could lead to significant brain damage if it isn’t treated in good time.
Symptoms that indicate someone has a severe head injury include the following:
- A fit or seizure
- Blood or clear fluid coming from the nose or ears
- Concussion – This is a temporary symptom that causes loss of mental function. It may last for anywhere between a few days or a few weeks. It can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. Someone with a concussion may not be unconscious but they may appear confused or have a glazed look.
- Difficulty with staying awake or speaking
- Loss of memory (amnesia)
- Problems with one or several senses, such as blurred vision or loss of hearing
- Trouble with coordination
Even after a minor head injury, some people can experience issues for a long time such as the ones listed above and behavioural changes. Such issues may disappear within a couple of weeks if a head injury is minor. Some people, however, can experience behavioural changes and other symptoms for months or even years after a head injury.
Potential long-term behavioural effects of a brain injury can include:
- Memory issues
A brain injury from medical negligence can occur and be diagnosed in different ways. If someone is showing symptoms of a brain injury, then they should be seen by a doctor or first responder as soon as possible.
When you see healthcare professionals for this type of injury, they may first check that you’re in a stable condition. They may also ask you questions to aid with the diagnosis and treatment of your injury. If a friend or relative has come with you to a hospital, they may be asked about your symptoms and how your injury occurred.
There are certain tests that a doctor may run to confirm a head/brain injury and how severe it is:
A CT scan is usually arranged to help with determining the extent of your injury. A doctor can use the scan results to determine the risk of you developing complications from your injury. The CT scan can produce a detailed image inside your head and show any bleeding or swelling which has occurred in your brain.
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
The Glasgow Coma Scale is a method of assessing the severity of brain damage. It is commonly used by doctors when examining a patient with brain damage symptoms. If you are examined using the GCS, then a doctor will give a score based on three categories:
- Verbal responses (are you capable of them and how clear are they?)
- Your physical movements
- Your ability to open your eyes
Your score is then added up to give a total. The higher your score, the better your current health is determined to be. The highest possible score is 15. If you receive this, it means you’re clear on who you are and where you are. Your eyes are also open and you can also speak and move around when instructed to.
If there are any sorts of issues with at least one of these elements, then you will get a score below 15. The lowest possible score is 3, and someone who gets this may be in a coma and their condition could be critical. Depending on your GCS score, you may be allowed to go home after this particular test or further testing and treatment may be arranged instead.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
An MRI scan may be arranged for you if you have head injury symptoms that last for more than 48 hours, or your symptoms get worse. An MRI scan can provide detailed images of your brain tissue through the use of powerful radio waves and magnets.
The treatment carried out by medical professionals for a brain injury can vary. It largely depends on how severe the injury is.
If the injury is relatively mild, then no treatment may be required other than rest and pain relief medication. However, regular monitoring of the condition will likely take place in case the symptoms persist or get worse.
When brain injuries are more severe than mild, the potential treatment options may include the following:
- Immediate emergency care (if there are life-threatening symptoms)
- Medicines such as anti-seizure drugs, coma-inducing drugs or diuretics (which reduce fluid in body tissue)
- Emergency surgery (may prove necessary to stop bleeding in the brain, a blood clot or repair the skull)
When recovering from a severe head injury or brain injury, you may have regular visits to a rehabilitation specialist. The types of specialists you may possibly see as part of your rehabilitation could include one or several of the following:
- Occupational therapist
- Physical therapist
- Recreational therapist
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Speech and language therapist
- Vocational counsellor
There are different types of brain injury that could be caused, misdiagnosed or aggravated as a direct result of medical negligence. The different classifications include the following:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
This type of brain injury is caused by external factors such as a blow to the head or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
An acquired brain injury is one that occurs due to internal health factors. Examples include strokes, tumours and a lack of oxygen supply to the brain.
Congenital Brain Damage
This kind of brain injury can occur due to birth trauma or genetic reasons, such as hydrocephalus.
There are numerous health issues that could be created through medical negligence which can lead to you suffering a brain injury. Some of the issues could be related to medical negligence which occurs during the delivery of a baby. Examples of health issues that can be caused by medical negligence and lead to a brain injury include but are not limited to the following:
- Birth injuries
- Bleeding on the brain (which may be caused, misdiagnosed or aggravated by medical negligence)
- Brain aneurysms
- Cerebral palsy
- Facial injury
- Head trauma that leads to loss of consciousness
- Scalp lacerations and injuries
- Skull fracture (which may be caused, misdiagnosed or aggravated by medical negligence)
- Subarachnoid haemorrhage (a stroke that causes bleeding into the space surrounding the brain)
- Subdural haematomas (blood collects between the skull and surface of the brain)
There are different types of medical negligence that could ultimately lead to an injury that harms the brain. Examples include:
- Negligence while delivering a baby
- Poor or incorrect treatment by a hospital and its staff (despite having the tools and information to treat symptoms appropriately)
- Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis, despite having clear symptoms and ample time
- Surgical negligence
Cerebral palsy is the term for a series of lifelong conditions which affect the brain and affect movement and coordination. A newborn child could develop cerebral palsy if their brain is damaged just before, during or just after their birth. If a child develops cerebral palsy, then the symptoms may not become obvious until the child is 2 or 3 years old. The condition lasts throughout a child’s life, however, and it often requires regular care from medical professionals.
If the medical staff at a hospital act negligently while assisting with childbirth, then the child could potentially develop brain injuries including cerebral palsy. Depending on the exact issue which occurs, cerebral palsy could develop if a baby is deprived of oxygen, suffers head trauma or develops an infection during birth, for example.
If you have evidence that you (or someone you wish to represent as a litigation friend) suffered a brain injury due to negligence, then you may be able to start a compensation claim. You will need to make sure that you start your potential claim in time.
Under the Limitation Act 1980, the standard time limit for beginning a medical negligence claim is three years from the day your injuries occurred. If your injuries could not be immediately confirmed, then the time limit will usually begin from the date they were diagnosed. This is known as the date of knowledge.
Under certain circumstances, the three-year time limit can be frozen (at least temporarily). For instance, if a child suffers a brain injury due to negligence, then the time limit for claiming doesn’t start immediately for them. It won’t activate until the child reaches the age of 18.
A child can’t start a personal injury claim on their own before they are 18. However, a representative, formally known as a litigation friend, may be able to start a claim on the child’s behalf. A parent, guardian or someone else close to the child may be able to become a litigation friend for an injured child.
If a brain injury victim lacks the mental capacity to claim, then the three-year time limit for claiming is frozen in this circumstance. Like with children, a claim could possibly be started on behalf of the victim by a litigation friend. In the event that the victim later recovers enough mental capacity to act on their own behalf, then the three-year time limit will come into effect from the day this occurs.
If you’re making a medical negligence claim for a brain injury, then you may have questions about how much compensation you could receive. Your payout, if your claim succeeds, can vary a lot and depends on several factors. These include what exact type of brain injury you’re claiming for and how severe it is. The impact on quality of life is also taken into account.
You can view the compensation table below to see potential payments for different brain injuries (and related injuries) which may have been caused by medical negligence. These brackets are based on the Judicial College guidelines, which uses payments handed out in previous claims for reference. Solicitors may check these brackets to help calculate the value of the injuries which you’re claiming for.
|Brain or Head Injury
|£264,650 to £379,100
|Brain or Head Injury
|£205,580 to £264,650
|Brain or Head Injury
|£40,410 to £205,580
|Brain or Head Injury
|£14,380 to £40,410
|Brain or Head Injury
|£2,070 to £11,980
|Psychiatric Damage Generally
|£51,460 to £108,620
|Psychiatric Damage Generally
|£17,900 to £51,460
|Psychiatric Damage Generally
|£5,500 to £17,900
|Psychiatric Damage Generally
|Up to £5,500
Compensation for injuries, including those listed in the compensation table above, is known as ‘general damages’. If you are able to receive compensation for general damages, then you may also receive additional compensation for ‘special damages’.
Special damages refers to financial losses which are caused by your injuries. Examples of financial losses which may be covered under special damages payments can include the following:
- Loss of earnings that have occurred if your injury has forced you to take unpaid time off work.
- Loss of earning capacity if your injuries have led you to change to a different job role which earns you less than your previous one.
- Travel expenses that have been put specifically towards receiving medical treatment for your injuries.
There are numerous UK charities that are dedicated to supporting individuals and families who have been affected by brain injuries. If you or someone you’re close to has been affected by a brain injury, then you could consider contacting these victim support groups:
- BASIC (Brain And Spinal Injury Centre): This charity offers rehabilitation services to those who have suffered a brain injury and have since been discharged from the hospital.
- Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Development (BIRD): This charity provides a range of treatments to children with brain injuries and/or learning difficulties.
- Cerebra: A national charity that works with families to support children living with a brain injury.
- The Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT): This charity provides emotional and practical support to families and individuals affected by childhood acquired brain injuries.
- Headway: A UK-wide charity that supports adults living with a brain injury via a range of services including an emergency fund.
At Medical Negligence Assist, we can advise on how you could make a medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis. Should you choose to hire a solicitor to support your case, then you may sign a No Win No Fee agreement with them. This kind of agreement can offer you several financial benefits, such as the following:
- There are no solicitor fees to pay upfront.
- There is also no requirement to pay these fees during the process of your claim either.
- In the event that your claim is unsuccessful, then you will not be required to pay your solicitor’s fees. This should provide your solicitor with extra motivation to work hard on your claim since they face more risk.
If your No Win No Fee claim is successful, then a small percentage of your compensation will be deducted by your solicitor. They do this in order to cover their work, but the amount they can charge is capped by law.
You can contact Medical Negligence Assist today for free legal advice on making a medical negligence claim. We can offer specific advice on starting a claim for a brain injury caused by medical negligence. To reach us, you can use any of the following methods:
- You can reach us through our online live chat service
- We’re also available through our online claim form
- You can also call us on 0800 652 3087
According to statistics compiled by the charity Headway, there were 348,453 admissions to UK hospitals for acquired brain injury (ABI) in the period of 2016-17. That means an average of 531 admissions per 100,000 of the population.
It was also found in this time period that men were 1.5 times more likely to be admitted for head injury than women.
For extra guidance on medical negligence claims, you can check out our related guides below:
- What Proof Of Medical Negligence Do You Need To Claim Compensation?
- Learn more about clinical and medical negligence claims here
- NHS Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guide
- Tell the DVLA if you’ve had a serious head injury
- Tell the DVLA if you’ve had a traumatic brain injury
For the final section of our guide on brain injury caused by medical negligence, we’ve answered some popular questions on the subject.
What is the most common type of brain injury?
Commonly reported brain injuries include concussions, scalp wounds and skull fractures. All of these are Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) which are caused by external factors such as a blow to the head or a sharp object.
How many types of brain injuries are there?
There are a few main categories under which brain injuries can fall. They include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are caused by external factors. There are also Acquired Brain Injuries, which are caused by internal health issues such as a stroke or tumour. Then there is also congenital brain damage, which refers to injuries caused by genetics or birth trauma.
How do I know I have a case?
You could have a strong case to claim compensation for a brain injury caused by medical negligence if you have proof that a medical professional or hospital owed you (or the person you’re representing) a duty of care. You also need evidence of how the duty of care was breached by the defendant and how this directly led to the brain injury.
How long could claims take?
The time it can take for a brain injury claim to conclude can vary depending on the circumstances. If the defendant accepts liability quickly, then the case may be resolved earlier. When proving medical negligence is a more complicated process, then a case could take longer.
Thanks for reading our guide about claiming for brain injury medical negligence.
Guide by Stephen
Edited by Ruth