Nerve injuries – is there an average award?
Posted on 3rd December 2019
The simple answer is that there is no such thing as an average award for any type of clinical negligence claim nor for any type of nerve injury case, in particular.
The courts do not use a tariff system and the way that compensation is calculated depends on individual factors for each individual injured person. There is no “one size fit all“ type award. Each damages award is bespoke for calculated solely for that individual case.
The compensation you may be entitled to will depend on the type of injury you have suffered and how serious it is.
What type of damages may I be entitled to?
The settlements awarded by the Court will take into account the pain and suffering caused by your injury (what is called General Damages) as well as how the injury has affected your day to day life (loss of amenity).
The settlement amount also depends on a number of factors, so it is not possible for us to provide a very accurate estimate of how much your claim could be worth without knowing your individual circumstances. Special Damages are awarded for past and future financial losses.
Special damages are awarded for the following heads of loss ;
- extra assistance a person might need to undertake their daily lives (carers)
- aids and equipment
- loss of earning
- loss of promotion prospects
- pain management
- costs of taxis (if the nerve injury prevents the claimant from driving)
- further surgery or therapy
- psychological counselling
I thought it might be useful to review a few cases I have undertaken over the past few years to give some idea how what type of nerve injury claims succeed and the way in which damages are awarded for each case.
Case study 1 – nerve injury bicep repair
Whilst at work, my client suffered an injury and had pain his left elbow. He attended hospital where the diagnosis of a ruptured bicep tendon was quickly made and he was advised that he would need an operation to repair the tendon. During the course of the procedure, the lateral cutaneous nerve of the forearm and the superficial radial nerve were both severely damaged, probably by a scalpel.
My client experienced severe nerve pain all over his forearm extending into the thumb which greatly affected all aspects of his daily living,
An expert orthopaedic surgeon instructed by myself concluded that the surgeon had negligently performed the surgery and that the injured nerves had been damaged at the time of the operation.
The NHS initially denied liability so court proceedings were issued and ultimately the claim settled for a large six-figure sum. The size of the award was based on the age of the claimant (in his 40s) and his occupation as a security guard. This was a life changing injury.
Case study 2 – spinal nerve injury during surgery
The Claimant was a steel worker who had suffered with back pain for many years. After he had exhausted conservative treatment he underwent an operation at his local NHS hospital to treat his degenerative spine. During the surgery the Claimant sustained an injury to his L5 and S1 nerve roots. As a result of this he suffered weakness in his left lower limb that affected all aspects of his personal life and his very physical work as a steel worker.
The allegations pursued in the court case included an allegation that the surgeon used a certain type of chisel to remove a fragment of bone from near a nerve root, causing injury when contact was made. The Claimant alleged that the surgeon should not have used this implement and should have used a high speed drill and / or a type of forceps for the procedure.
Court proceedings were issue and liability was denied by the NHS. Shortly after court proceedings were issued the Defendant made an offer of £600,000 which was accepted. The high value of the claim reflected the increased care that the claimant would need with household chores, the risk of redundancy and his future loss of overtime / promotion prospects.
Case study 3 – injury to radial nerve during repair of fractured arm
The claimant was a young single mother with two pre school children, suffered a nerve injury during routine orthopaedic surgery. She broke her arm after falling over and was admitted to hospital for what is called an open reduction and internal fixation of her humerus bone (insertion of a metal plate onto her upper arm bone). The claimant’s experts’ view was that the operating surgeon had negligently drilled right through the humerus and out the other side of the bone into the radial nerve. The Claimant’s case was that this was negligent and could have been avoided. The NHS argued that the injury was just a complication of surgery the technique of “blind drilling” without knowing the anatomy on the other side of the bone was not negligent.
The case was strongly defended by the Defendant NHS Trust and settled shortly before trial in the sum of £350,000.
Case study 4 – accessory nerve – claim against Imperial College NHS
The Claimant suffered with a lump on the side of her neck/ shoulder. She attended her GP who referred her quickly to her local hospital under the 2-week cancer rule, as he feared that it might be a malignant lump. The patient underwent a biopsy procedure with a professor of vascular surgery
I instructed a professor of vascular surgery who considered that informed consent had not been obtained, as there were other investigations that should have been undertaken prior to surgery.
Secondly, my expert confirmed that the surgery was negligently performed and his view a competent surgeon would easily have been able to avoid damage to the accessory nerve if proper care had been taken during the surgery.
The Claim settled prior to the issue of court proceedings in the sum of £550,000. This was on the basis that the Claimant’s promotion prospects in her sales job would be impacted. It was also clear that the Claimant would need a good deal assistance with domestic duties in the future.
Case study 5 – Hernia surgery – stitch around ilioinguinal nerve
The Claimant was a hospital microbiologist in the North East of England who underwent a routine hernia operation. He awoke from the surgery with incredible pain in his groin and running down his leg. He was immediately aware that something had gone badly wrong. He suffered incredible pan over the next few months before he finally found a surgeon willing to re explore the site of the original surgery. The second surgeon operated and found that a stitch had been looped and pull tight over the inguinal nerve.
The inguinal nerve was badly damaged and despite the removal of the stitch the patient’s condition did not greatly improve. The severe nerve pain caused the claimant to suffer a loss of promotion at his NHS hospital. Overwhelming evidence of negligence was presented to the Defendant NHS trust whose lawyers robustly defended the case until it finally settled one week before trial. The Claimant accepted an award of £250,000.
If you have suffered a nerve injury due to medical negligence you maybe entitled to a compensation. For a free consultation with one of our medical negligence experts please call 0808 231 6369 or request a call back.