By Marlon Rudy. Last Updated 11th November 2022. Did a doctor misdiagnose a fracture of the skull during a medical assessment? Did a third-party fail to act quickly, causing a delay in treatment and thus further injury, or avoidable harm? If so, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim for medical negligence.
In this guide, we provide key information regarding skull fractures, such as causes, symptoms, treatment, and common misconceptions regarding your rights as an NHS patient. In addition, we also look at how a medical negligence solicitor could help you secure a settlement for your damages by representing you on a No Win No Fee basis.
If you require any further assistance, or have any questions after reading this guide, call us today on 0800 652 3087. An adviser from our expert team would assess the validity of your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation advise you on your next steps to take. Our panel of solicitors have up to thirty years’ experience in representing victims of third-party negligence and could help you pursue a medical negligence claim against a responsible third party.
Choose A Section
- A Guide On Claiming Compensation For Missed Skull Fractures
- What Is An Undiagnosed Or Missed Fracture?
- Reasons For A Fracture Being Misdiagnosed
- How Do Skull Fractures Occur?
- Fractured Skull Symptoms
- Skull Fracture Treatment And Diagnosis
- Circumstances In Which You Could Claim Compensation
- Skull Fractures Misdiagnosed By A GP
- Skull Fractures Misdiagnosed By A Hospital
- What Are My Rights As A NHS Patient?
- Medical Misdiagnosis Compensation Claim Time Limits
- Fractured Skull – How Much Will I Receive In Compensation?
- No Win No Fee Claims For Undiagnosed Or Misdiagnosed Skull Fractures
- Talk To Medical Negligence Assist
- References To Support Your Claim
You may think you’d know when you suffered a fracture without needing a doctor, hospital or medical practice to diagnose your condition. Even if you were unaware of the injury, you would hope a medical professional is capable of establishing you have suffered some kind of fracture. However, this isn’t always the case.
As this guide describes in further detail, you have the right to a reasonable standard of treatment from medical professionals. If there is a breach in this duty and you are made to suffer avoidable injuries due to medical negligence, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim for missed skull fracture compensation should this be the injury you sustained.
Our team of experts will seek to answer frequently asked questions regarding misdiagnosed basal skull fractures, including:
- “How do you know if you have a skull fracture?”
- “What happens if you have a skull fracture?”
- “How long does it take to recover from a skull fracture?”
- “Can you die from a skull fracture?”
- “Can a CT scan miss a skull fracture?”
- “Can a skull fracture go unnoticed?”
- “Do skull fractures heal on their own?”
As there is only a short window for the correct treatment to take place, a skull fracture could have long-term effects if left untreated. In some cases, this could even be life-threatening. In the sections below, you will find information about what these consequences might be and how such repercussions could impact your health and well-being.
If a doctor fails to identify the symptoms of a broken skull or to refer a patient so they undergo the correct diagnostic testing, the injury could be missed. All healthcare professionals owe a duty of care to their patients to correctly assess, diagnose and treat fractures, illnesses and other health conditions. A negligent error made during one of these processes could be seen as a breach in their duty of care because these mistakes could increase the possibility of further pain and suffering for the patient. As a result, the person in question may require additional more invasive treatment which could give rise to complications.
The misdiagnosis of an injury could occur for a number of different reasons, many of which may be seen as acts of negligence. These mistakes could occur in almost any department in the healthcare sector, such as GP practices, hospitals and A&E units. For example, a mistake could be made for reasons such as:
- Misinterpreting results of X-ray results
- Failing to identify a fracture on the X-ray
- Incorrect angles were taken from an X-ray
- Failure to request the correct imaging assessment ( X-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc.)
A personal injury claim for a missed skull fracture can be particularly complicated, especially if the doctor was able to rectify your misdiagnosis quickly and there are no further issues. In such circumstances, the claim may no longer be valid. Therefore, it is important for your medical negligence solicitor to prove there was a delay in treatment which led to further pain and suffering from a missed fracture of the skull. You can find out whether your case is valid by speaking to on of our advisers.
The most common cause of a skull fracture is severe trauma to the head. Any form of impact to the head could result in complications which is why it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after any form of trauma on the head. For example, if a child falls from height in a playground and strikes their head on the ground or a piece of equipment, it could lead to a severely fractured skull injury. A baby could also suffer a skull fracture if they too land on their head.
A broken skull could take various forms, but there are four main types of skull fracture:
- Closed Skull Fracture: One of the most common types of fracture, this is a straight-forward break of skull bones without the fracture breaking the skin
- Open Skull Fracture: As opposed to a closed skull fracture, an open fracture will break the skin causing the bone to push through
- Depressed skull fracture: This fracture will cause the skull to push inwards and puts pressure on the brain. It would require surgical intervention to help lift the bone back into place. Without such intervention, a depressed skull fracture could have long-term effects
- Diastatic Fractures: If a break occurs in more than one bone that connects the skull together, it could cause the join to widen
- Basilar Fractures: A basal skull fracture, which typically appears at the base of the skull is particularly uncommon. This type of injury could cause significant damage to the spinal cord. Although uncommon, basilar skull fracture survival rates are low
It is therefore important for a patient to receive the correct diagnosis as soon as possible in order to treat their injury accordingly. Without the right treatment, the risk of further brain injury is increased.
According to the NHS, some symptoms of a skull fracture could include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Bruising around the eyes
- Swelling or bruising on the head
- Dents, lumps or other deformities
- Loss of consciousness
- Blood or clear fluid running from the ears or nose
- Disorientation or confusion
An untreated skull fracture could result in serious issues. We would recommend reaching out to a medical professional if you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above following a traumatic injury to your head. They could give you more information about any needed treatment for your fractured skull and what you could do to help your injury.
To help determine the full extent of a fracture, a hospital may conduct a range of scans to assess the severity of skull fracture. In some cases, it may be possible for a simple skull fracture X-ray to establish minor injuries sustained. However, more severe fractures may require further action and tests.
A CT scan may be necessary for assessing the risk of complications. A CT scan can produce a comprehensive image detailing the extent of the injuries sustained (swelling and bleeding). Whereas a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) will often assess the severity of damage to the brain itself. The test takes into account your verbal response, physical movements and ability to open your eyes.
Initially, before treatment has begun, a professional will check your airways, breathing and take other such precautions to prioritise any potentially life-threatening injuries. Once these procedures are complete, you would then typically undergo a CT scan, observation and be treated for any external cuts or grazes you suffered to prevent infection. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require surgical intervention. This could be neurosurgery to treat problems with the spinal cord, nerves and brain, or you may have to undergo a craniotomy to treat more severe head injuries.
Some fractures would heal on their own accord, especially if they are simple fractures. Any pain could disappear over a 5 to 10-day period, althought the healing process itself could take several months. A doctor may prescribe certain antibiotics to prevent infection and prescribe medication to minimise pain during the skull fracture treatment process, but surgery may also be necessary if the fracture sustained in more serious in nature.
For more information about diagnosis and treatment of a skull fracture, please click here to read the fractured skull NHS guide.
Your eligibility to make a claim for medical malpractice would depend on the circumstances of your missed skull fracture. If you were made to suffer because of a delay in treatment following a misdiagnosis, then you may have a valid claim against the responsible party. The validity of your claim would also depend on whether it can be proven this delay was the result of medical malpractice whether it be a doctor, GP, nurse or surgeon, all healthcare. If the patient suffers because of a negligent act, they could claim compensation for the misdiagnosis of a skull fracture.
Missed orthopaedic injuries could occur in a GP practice. Whether the general practitioner in question made an error during the examination, overlooks and/or misinterprets test results, fails to refer the patient for correct treatments, or lacks experience in skull fractures, you may be entitled to seek compensation by filing a medical negligence claim.
You can find more information about GP negligence in our detailed guide, click here to find out more.
A hospital can be a busy and overwhelming place when high volumes of patients attend at any one time, especially in the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department. However, you should expect to receive quality care during your time in a hospital regardless of how busy it happens to be. If this duty of care is not upheld, then the practitioner treating you, could be held liable for avoidable injuries and unnecessary harm that results from their negligent actions.
There are several ways a hospital could act negligently. These include, but are not limited to, if a hospital:
- Failed to diagnose a fracture
- Refer a patient to the correct specialist
- Overlooked results
- Failed to correctly analyse an X-ray
- Unable to recognise symptoms
If you were made to suffer avoidable injuries as a result of negligence, you could be entitled to file for missed fracture compensation. Click here to read our guide on NHS negligence compensation claims.
All NHS patients have the right to receive a high standard of care regardless of the establishment they are being treated in, which is set out in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the governing body. For more information about patients’ rights under the NHS, click here.
When you make a medical negligence claim, there will be a time limit as to how long you have to begin you medical negligence claim. Generally speaking, the personal injury claims time limit is 3-years from the date of an accident or diagnosis of a condition. However, this time limit can vary between cases.
In addition to this, it may be possible to make a claim past this time limit in certain circumstances. For example, if the victim is a child then a parent or guardian has the right to make a claim on their behalf. If no claim is made, the child could pursue a claim for a fracture of the skull when they turn 8 years f age which means they have up till their 21st birthday to seek compensation from a negligent third party.
To find out more about the time limit associated with your claim, please contact a personal injury solicitor from our panel.
The figures shown in this section’s table are examples of general damages. They’ve been taken from the latest edition of a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). It was last updated in 2022.
A fractured skull can cause varying levels of physical pain and mental suffering. Symptoms of a fractured skull can affect people in different ways. This is what general damages is calculated to address.
The figures below they may not necessarily reflect how much you could be owed in general damages. However, they may serve you well with regards to giving you a rough idea of how much you may receive.
|£282,010 to £403,990
|The very top of this bracket will look towards the lack of ability to follow the most basic of commands, among other such necessities. These may include lack of waking patterns, postural reflex movement and issues in return of sleep.
|£219,070 to £282,010
|A moderately severe brain injury will leave the victim very seriously disabled. They will require substantial dependence on other people, including professional care, for both physical and psychological injuries.
|£150,110 to £219,070
|These types of injuries will cause a moderate to severe deficit of intellectual ability. The victim may also display characteristics of personal change along with issues in speech and senses. There may also be a risk to epilepsy and the person will have no future prospect of employment.
|Established Petit Mal
|£54,830 to £131,370
|The amount of compensation awarded will be affected by a range of factors, including whether attacks can be controlled by medication and whether the condition has an effect on working life.
|Other Epileptic Conditions
|£10,640 to £26,290
|A temporary resurgence of epilepsy, or those where 1-2 episodes are discrete, which holds no further risk to recurrence, will qualify for this bracket.
|£54,830 to £115,730
|The injured person with severe psychiatric damage will endure marked problems with a range of factors, including the ability to cope with life, work and education.
|£19,070 to £54,830
|Although there may be a slight association with significant problems similar to brackets higher than this, the prognosis of the injured person will be much more optimistic than the higher brackets.
Your claim may also include a special damages payment. This figure is to reimburse you for the financial impact caused by your injuries. Examples can include:
- Medical costs – Skull fracture treatment could include expenses such as pain management medication or even private healthcare.
- Travel costs – Following treatment for a skull fracture, you may be advised to cease driving while you heal. This could result in you paying for taxis and other forms of transport.
- Property damage – Your personal items could have been damaged in the same accident that caused your injuries. You could claim back the cost of replacement or repairs.
Get in touch if you’d like more examples or need guidance on how to claim compensation for a fractured skull.
Whether you were made to suffer avoidable injuries following a missed skull fracture, an undiagnosed skull fracture, or any other form of medical negligence, a personal injury lawyer from our expert panel will help you claim compensation on a No Win No Fee basis. As such, you will not be liable for your solicitor’s fees if your claim is unsuccessful. What’s more, there are no hidden fees or upfront costs needed to begin your claim either.
To cover the costs of legal services for a successful claim, your solicitor will deduct an agreed percentage from the final settlement amount. This fee is known as a “Success Fee”. Should your medical negligence claim be unsuccessful, there would be nothing to pay a No Win No Fee solicitor.
Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation of your potential claim. Our advisers are committed to helping victims of third-party negligence through the claims process. You can contact us by:
- Telephone: Call us on 0800 652 3087, our lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Online Enquiry: Fill out a callback form and we’ll contact you at your next available time
- Live Chat: Instantly connect with an adviser via our online chat
When you discuss your circumstances with an adviser, they might be able to provide you with an estimate of your potential damages centralised to your unique case. This could be more accurate than an estimate from an online personal injury claims calculator.
Below are useful links to additional resources related to clinical negligence.
NHS Skull Fracture
What are the signs, symptoms and causes of a skull fracture?
NHS Severe Head Injury Treatment
How to treat a severe head injury and reduce the risk of further complications.
Missed Elbow Fracture No Win No Fee Claims
How to claim compensation for a misdiagnosed elbow fracture
Missed Finger Fracture
You could receive compensation for a misdiagnosed finger fracture, read this guide to find out more.
Missed Scaphoid Fractures
A guide to missed scaphoid fractures and how to claim compensation for negligence.
Article by HH