Brain Injuries from Medical Negligence

When receiving medical treatment or undergoing a procedure there are unfortunately times when, through negligence, patients can sustain a brain injury. We have a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors some of whom have previously worked in healthcare who understand the complex issues which can arise from brain injuries.

We are well versed in dealing with brain injured individuals and their families working to achieve a positive outcome on their behalf.

If you or your family have been affected our experts will advise you comprehensively about the merits of your potential claim, funding and ensure that you and your family get the best possible results.

Contact our team of experts for Free Consultation.

What is sub arachnoid haemorrhage?

A sub arachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke caused by a bleed in the brain which is due to a ruptured aneurysm. This condition affects about 9,000 of people each year. It is obviously a serious condition that can be fatal or can lead to severe disabilities. Some fortunate patients do survive a SAH with no or minimal after effects.

  • Symptoms

The classic sign of a subarachnoid haemorrhage is a sudden onset severe headache. It is often describes as like being hit on the head with a hammer. Patients and doctors often describe it as a “thunderclap” headache. Other classic symptoms can be a stiff neck and sensitivity to light.

  • Cause

The cause is usually a weakness in the wall of one of the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain which causes a swelling. The build-up of blood pressure in this location causes the swelling to expand and then burst. The location of the weak spot is known as an aneurysm. The aneurysm can often burst when a person with this condition undertakes strenuous activity.

  • Diagnosis

The diagnosis is confirmed by a CT scan. The scan can identify the aneurysm in 95% of cases and therefore rule out any other cause for the symptoms. If the CT scan does not show an aneurysm then often a lumbar puncture is performed. This is a procedure to take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for the spine for analysis.

Treatment for a sub arachnoid haemorrhage

Once the diagnosis has been made neurosurgeons will take over care of the patient (if not involved already). They will be assisted by neuroradiologists. They will arrange for the patient to undergo an angiogram to precisely work out how to treat the aneurysm.

The normal treatment for this condition is now endovascular coiling. This is performed by a neuroradiologist using minimally invasive techniques. In the recent past, a procedure known as ‘clipping’ was performed, usually by a neurosurgeon. This is a more invasive technique.

Both techniques have very high success rates.

Types of a sub arachnoid haemorrhage cases

Problems with treatment are usually due a failure to suspect this condition and refer quickly for diagnosis/coiling.

The severe sudden onset headache can often be dismissed as a migraine, a stress headache or the classic stiff neck blamed upon a posture problem.

The diagnosis can often be missed as the condition is quite rare. A GP would expect to see only one or two such cases in their entire career. Delays in diagnosis can lead to a severe brain injury or sadly even death.

If you or your loved one has been affected by a delay in diagnosis or mistreatment of sub arachnoid haemorrhage and would like legal advice, please contact our specialist clinical negligence solicitors on 0808 252 8678 or request a call back online. Get in touch today

No Win No Fee claims

The majority of our cases are funded by way of a conditional fee agreement, more commonly known as a No Win No Fee agreement. This means there is no financial risk to you.

Frequently asked questions

What are the time limits to bringing a claim?

The date by which a claim must be brought is called the “limitation date”. Calculating the limitation date in medical negligence cases is often not straightforward.

  1. The usual rule is that a patient has 3 years to bring legal proceedings (i.e. to issue a claim form at court).
  2. If the injury was not immediately apparent then the law allows a patient to bring their claim within 3 years of the date when they first had the knowledge (which they reasonably have been expected to acquire) necessary to bring a legal action. The patient has to have known (i) the key facts (ii) that the injury was serious enough to investigate and (iii) the identity of the potential Defendant. The Court will say that the patient must know (i), (ii) and (iii) before the three year period starts to commence.

Example – a patient undergoes abdominal surgery. For four years following the surgery, they complain of stomach pain. The patient is reassured and no investigations are undertaken. Eventually, an X-ray is performed which shows a metal object in their abdomen. In this situation, the Court will almost certainly rule that the patient would have 3 years to bring a claim starting from the date of knowledge of when they were told of the x-ray – rather than three years from the date of surgery.

Exceptions to the usual 3-year rule – children

The limitation period does not start to run for children until they reach the age of 18 years, so the limitation period for children expires on their 21st birthday.

Exceptions to the usual 3 year rule – patients without capacity

People who lack capacity (the ability to manage their own affairs) are able to issue proceedings at any time. The law states that if a person lacks capacity then the three year period does not commence. In cases of fluctuating capacity the limitation period may start to run if mental capacity returns.

What can I claim compensation for?

In a clinical negligence case you would be entitled to claim for two types of compensation:

General Damages: for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the injury itself.

General damages are calculated by reference to a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (formerly the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines). These Guidelines are designed to provide a clear framework for the assessment of damages in medical negligence cases. These guidelines are well known by the Claimant and the Defendant’s solicitors and if a case goes to trial the Judge will use these guidelines to calculate the appropriate award for General Damages.

In addition, another publication called Kemp and Kemp lists many different types of cases that have settled out of court or that have been decided at trial. This textbook is several hundred pages and is constantly updated.

By reference to the JC Guidelines and Kemp the solicitors at Hodge Jones Allen can calculate the value of the General Damages Claim.

Special Damages: Special Damages are the damages awarded for any past or future financial loss. These are individually calculated for each case. There is no textbook or guide for this part of the Claim. It is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the Claimant.

Special damages claim will comprise of;

Loss of earnings / Loss of promotion prospects – for unpaid time off work in the past or for loss of promotion prospects in the future. If a claimant has been seriously injured and cannot return to work then a clam will be made for future loss of earnings.

Past Care and Future Care needs – a claim can be made for the unpaid (gratuitous) care provided by family members. We will take details of who has looked after the Claimant and calculate how many hours care has been provided. In significant cases we will obtain expert evidence on the care required. The specialist experts we employ to asses our clients are very experienced and will carefully assess the level of care an injured Claimant has needed/ will require. This is often a very substantial part of the claim in serious injury cases. In some cases over 50% of the total value of the claim might relate to future care needs.

Aids and equipment – if aids and equipment are required then this will be assessed by an expert Occupational Therapist that we will arrange to meet with you.

Future medical treatment – we will always ask our appointed medical experts if further treatment is needed as a result of the negligent injury. If treatment is required then a Claimant is entitled to claim for this on a private paying basis – injured Claimants do not have to rely on the NHS.

Prosthetics – amputees are entitled to claim for the costs of prosthetic in the private. It is generally accepted that it is not reasonable to expect a claimant to rely on NHS prosthetics only.

Pension loss – if a medical accident has forced a claimant to leave their job then it will be necessary to calculate their pension loss. This can sometimes be quite complex and may require an accountancy expert.

Past/Future DIY and gardening – if a claimant’s injuries prevent them from undertaking household tasks then a claim can be made for employing people to carry out those tasks.

Interest – interest is also claimed on all past losses

It can be difficult to advise at the outset as to the amount of compensation you may obtain if your case is successful as this will depend on the particular circumstances of your case, and expert evidence may be required. As your case progresses your solicitor will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of what your case is likely to be worth.

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