A Complete Guide To Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence Compensation Claims

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Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence

Welcome to our guide about a spinal cord injury treatment negligence claim. Below you will find relevant information regarding how spinal treatment could be subjected to negligence if a practitioner strays from their professional standards and causes harm that could have otherwise been avoided. 

spinal cord injury treatment negligence

We are here to help by providing information on the process of making a medical negligence claim. We can also explain how a No Win No Fee solicitor waivers any upfront fees so that any claimant regardless of their financial standing can have legal expert representation. 

In this article, we’ll look at the conditions under which you can prove a medical professional’s negligence caused you to suffer further, unnecessary harm that could have been avoided. 

Additionally, we’ll be exploring the types of compensation you may be able to claim and the evidence required to do so. 

If you’re unsure of anything at all either whilst reading or after you’ve finished, you can contact our team. They can answer any questions you may have and provide further help and advice to get you one step closer to starting your claim for compensation. 

For more information, get in touch using the contact details below:

Select A Section

  1. What Is Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence?
  2. What Does The Spinal Cord Do?
  3. About Injuries To The Spinal Cord
  4. What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Spinal Cord Injury?
  5. Factors Which Can Affect Spinal Cord Injuries
  6. What Could Be The Impact Of A Spinal Cord Injury?
  7. Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
  8. Time Limits To Claim For A Spinal Cord Injury
  9. Calculating Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence Compensation
  10. No Win No Fee Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence Claims
  11. Get Help With Your Claim
  12. Related Back Injury Resources
  13. Spinal Cord Injury Claim FAQs

What Is Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence?

Medical negligence is a result of a medical professional breaching their duty of care to you. They are required to provide you with the correct standard of care and failing to do so is a breach of duty of care. It can result in causing you further harm that would have otherwise been avoided had they provided the care they were supposed to. 

For example, it could be that you suffered a fracture to one of the bones in your neck and the doctor treating you failed to carry out further tests to check for any damage to the spinal cord, leading to you suffering paralysis from the neck down. 

Or perhaps a doctor was operating on your spinal cord but negligently operated on the wrong part, causing further damage on top of the injury you already had. 

Either way, if the injury you suffered could have been easily prevented had the healthcare professional provided a minimum standard of care, you may have grounds to claim for medical negligence.

How to prove a medical professional breached their duty of care?

The General Medical Council oversees all registered doctors in the UK. Their role is to ensure these doctors are meeting the standard of care owed to patients. If they are reported as failing to do so, investigations may be carried out. 

Additionally, in medical negligence claims, the Bolam test may be used to determine whether a medical professional has acted negligently. 

This involves a panel of unbiased similar professionals providing their belief as to whether or not the medical professional acted in an acceptable manner.

If they feel the harm caused to the patient was unnecessary and could have been reasonably avoided through a different treatment, procedure or diagnosis for example, then it’s helpful in proving whether a medical professional was negligent. 

However, other evidence will be required and the decision isn’t made lightly. For more information on what other evidence you’ll need to support your spinal cord injury negligence claim, see further down in our guide.

What Does The Spinal Cord Do?

The spinal cord is an important part of the body that works with the brain to regulate the body and some of the functions it actively performs throughout the day to keep you alive. 

For instance, the brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system which helps you think, feel, move and even breathe. The spinal cord receives messages from the brain and sends messages to the brain about the state of the body e.g. the temperature. 

Additionally, it helps to regulate your heartbeat and your breathing. As well as helping your body cool down or warm up depending on the temperature of your environment. 

For that reason, if you are without a healthy and functioning spinal cord, it can disrupt the way the body works and responds to different external factors. For instance, it can cut off the signals between the brain and the spinal cord leaving you with difficulty regulating different bodily functions such as going to the toilet naturally. 

About Injuries To The Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is a complex bundle of nerves and can be damaged in a number of ways. Additionally, where you injure the spinal cord can affect the way it impacts you and the way your body works. 

For instance, if you damage the top of the spinal cord, it could cause paralysis from the neck down. Whereas if you damage the bottom of the spinal cord, it could cause paralysis from the waist down. 

The spinal cord is protected by the spine which is categorised into five parts which are listed in order from top to bottom as follows:

  • Cervical
  • Thoracic
  • Lumbar
  • Sacrum
  • Coccyx 

A fracture to any part of the spine could lead to spinal cord damage and could be classified as an injury to the spinal cord.  

Spinal cord injuries caused by medical negligence and other negligence

A spinal cord injury could be caused by several accidents that cause a direct blow to the area such as:

  • Road traffic accident
  • Diving into the shallow end of the pool 
  • Falling from a height

If you suffered an injury that affected your spinal cord in another accident and after receiving poor care from a healthcare provider, your injuries or symptoms worsened and you suffered further harm, this may be due to medical or clinical negligence. 

Medical negligence could cause spinal injuries through

  • Missed fractures of the neck and back as a failure to refer you for an X-ray, despite clear indications
  • Further tests were not carried out, despite the clear necessity
  • Symptoms ignored 
  • Full assessment not carried out even though you were supposed to have one

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Spinal Cord Injury?

Due to the spinal cord being so complex, there are several symptoms that could point to a spinal cord injury. However, some of the more common symptoms might include:

  • Difficulty walking or moving the arms or legs
  • Loss of feeling in the arms, legs and in the chest
  • Numbness or tingling 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Loss of control of the bladder or bowels 

Additionally, it could cause paralysis of various parts of the body. If you have any symptoms of a spinal cord injury after suffering an accident, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Factors Which Can Affect Spinal Cord Injuries

If you suffer an injury to your back, vertebrae or spinal cord it is vital you have it checked out as soon as possible. If the spinal cord is damaged in any way it could cause life-changing injuries. The spinal cord is responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from the brain. If these messages cannot get through then vital aspects of the body’s functions are shut off.

If you arrive at an accident and emergency department suffering from a spine or spinal cord injury it should be treated as a medical emergency. Failure to immobilise the spinal area in cases such as this could cause paralysis. Diagnosis and treatment are key, any errors can result in a patient being paralysed.

What Could Be The Impact Of A Spinal Cord Injury?

You may be wondering ‘what is the prognosis for a spinal cord injury?’ or ‘can spinal cord damage be repaired?’ If so, the following section aims to provide the answers to these questions. However, it’s important to note that you should seek the help of medical professionals for healthcare advice. 

Unfortunately, a spinal cord injury could cause a severe impact on the quality of life of anyone who has suffered this injury. For instance, it could lead to dependence on a wheelchair or other physical aids. Or it could result in the need for full-time care to help perform what were once basic tasks such as eating, drinking, bathing or using the toilet. 

Additionally, it could cause an inability to work or have a significant impact on a person’s ability to work. It could also affect the way a person communicates, depending on how severe any paralysis is. 

We understand how frustrating it may be if you’re dealing with the repercussions of a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence. 

However, by making a medical negligence claim, you could get the compensation you deserve. Contact our team on the number above for more information about how to get started. 

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics

Each year there are 2,500 people who are injured or diagnosed with a spinal cord injury (SCI). 

The exact cause of SCIs isn’t known but according to the Spinal Injuries Association’s annual report for 2019/20, 55% of injuries were caused by accident and 45% were caused by illness or a medical condition. 

Additionally, the exact number of people suffering from an SCI isn’t known but the graph below highlights the current estimates. These figures come from the Spinal Injuries Association.

spinal cord injuries statistics

Time Limits To Claim For A Spinal Cord Injury

We understand that a spinal cord injury may have left you with life-changing consequences to deal with and making a claim may not have been the first thing on your mind. However, there are time limits that may apply to your medical negligence claim. 

Generally, when making a medical negligence claim you generally have three years. This starts either from the date you suffered the incident or the date you gained enough knowledge that the incident at least contributed to your injuries.

However, if a child under the age of 18 suffers an injury, the three years are frozen until they turn 18. In the meantime, someone could claim on their behalf by acting as a litigation friend. The three years would then restart when they turn 18. They would have three years from the date of their 18th birthday to claim for themselves if someone hadn’t already claimed on their behalf.

Additionally, if someone lacks the mental capacity to claim, the three years are frozen unless they recover. In this time, someone could act as a litigation friend. Alternatively, if they regain their mental capacity, they have three years from the date of their recovery to claim for themselves.

If there is no chance they’ll regain their mental capacity, the three-year time limit is frozen indefinitely. 

Calculating Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence Compensation

This is where the case can become complex. As you cannot claim for the initial injury or illness only the suffering caused by the medical negligence. A medical assessment by an independent medical expert will be scheduled. This will determine what suffering is caused by the primary health complaint and what is due to the negligent treatment.

Arguably the most vital piece of evidence needed to claim for medical negligence is medical evidence. For instance:

  • Medical documents 
  • Past records of appointments, different treatments and diagnoses you received 
  • Diary of your injuries and symptoms 

If your medical negligence claim is successful you will be entitled to two types of damages: general and special damages. General damages cover the pain and suffering. Examples are in the table below.

What is my claim worth?

Although an average compensation amount for spinal cord injuries might not be applicable to your circumstances, we have created a table to provide figures reflecting injuries and illnesses. 

InjuryDescriptionAward
NeckSevere: (ii) The award will be given to injuries such as serious fractures or damage to discs in the cervical spine and lead to permanent disabilities.£61,710 to £122,860
NeckModerate: (ii) This bracket includes injuries such as a disc lesion resulting in ongoing pain, stiffness, discomfort and possibly further surgery.£12,900 to £23,460
NeckMinor: (ii) Awards will be given to those injuries where a full recovery has been made between three months and a year.£2,300 to £4,080
BackSevere: (iii) Injuries that include disc lesions or disc fractures and lead to ongoing chronic conditions.£36,390 to £65,440
BackModerate: (i) Injuries might include a crush fracture to the lumbar vertebrae that causes ongoing pain and discomfort.£26,050 to £36,390
BackMinor: (iii) The award will be given to injuries that have led to a full recovery within three months.Up to £2,300

The figures are provided by the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a document that may be used alongside the additional medical assessment to value claims. 

However, the figures should only be used as a guide because actual compensation amounts may vary depending on the specific nature of your injury and claim. 

In addition to general damages which cover your injury, you may be able to claim for any past or future financial losses incurred under special damages. For instance, if your injury has left you unable to return to work, you could claim for past lost earnings as well as any future earnings you would have otherwise earned had you not suffered your injury.  

Additionally, you could claim the following under special damages:

  • Care costs
  • Home adaptations
  • Travel expenses
  • Medical expenses e.g. physical aids or physiotherapy not covered by the NHS

Evidence will also be required for special damages and might include payslips and receipts. 

For more information, contact our team on the number above and they’ll be happy to provide further help and advice. 

No Win No Fee Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Negligence Claims

We understand that you may have been left under financial strain due to your injuries. So if you’re concerned about paying the costs of legal representation even if your claim loses, we may be able to provide a solution.

We want to provide an option where you can access the help of an experienced medical negligence solicitor to take you through each step of your case without you having to worry about upfront solicitor fees. For that reason, if our advisors can see you have a favourable claim, they could put you through to our panel of solicitors who could take on your case on a No Win No Fee basis. 

This type of agreement means that if your solicitor fails to win your case, you won’t pay solicitor fees. If they do win, you’ll pay a small success fee. However, you will know about the percentage of the fee before going ahead with your claim. 

The most important thing to remember is that you can avoid upfront solicitor costs.

Get Help With Your Claim 

Although we have tried to cover important information regarding making a medical negligence claim, we appreciate that you may still have questions. 

For that reason, our advisors are available to answer your queries and provide further clarification on anything you’re unsure of. 

Additionally, if you need further help assessing whether you have a valid claim, they can do so. If they feel your claim has a chance of succeeding, they can connect you with a medical negligence solicitor from our panel to take you through the next steps and help you get the compensation you deserve. 

For more information, contact us using the details below:

  • Call us on 0800 652 3087
  • Chat with us using the live chat feature at the bottom of the page 
  • Send us your enquiry and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible 

Related Back Injury Resources

If you’ve suffered a neck fracture that was missed through medical negligence, our guide could help.

For more information on claiming for an operation gone wrong, see our guide.

Are you wondering how long a medical negligence claim may take? If so, our guide could help.

Visit the NHS website for any further information on paralysis.

For more support on living with a spinal cord injury, visit Aspire.

If you have any concerns about the treatment a doctor may have given you, see further advice on the General Medical Council website.

Spinal Cord Injury Claim FAQs

Please see below answers to some questions we’re commonly asked regarding medical or clinical negligence claims.

How long could your claim take?

This may vary depending on whether the defendant admits liability. Additionally, it may depend on whether further evidence or investigations are required to prove negligence occurred. 

Do you have to go to court?

Solicitors will work towards getting a settlement offer that both parties agree on. However, if neither the claimant or defendant can agree, further evidence and investigation may be required. 

Do complaints or cases affect medical treatment?

Any complaints or claims currently ongoing shouldn’t affect the medical treatment you receive as every patient has a right to be treated with the correct standard of care. Please get in touch with your solicitor if you feel your claim is affecting the healthcare you receive. 

How do I prove I was harmed by medical negligence?

Evidence will be required to prove you suffered further harm that was avoidable as a result of medical negligence. For instance, you could use medical records and documents. 

Thank you for reading our guide on how to make a spinal cord injury treatment negligence claim for compensation. We hope you found it useful.

Guide by Meg

Edited by Ruth