Severely brain injured woman awarded seven figure damages25 Apr 2019
Our client’s story
In November 2013, our client, a 76 year old woman, tripped and fell on some stairs when she was on her way out of a hospital following a routine out-patients appointment. She suffered a significant brain injury.
A CT scan taken after her fall, at the hospital, showed a subdural haematoma with some mass effect and midline shift. She was treated for 2 days with non-surgical treatments but, her condition deteriorated and she was transferred to a specialist neurological unit. She continued to be treated conservatively, again utilising only non-surgical options until she deteriorated further. After another 7 days following her original fall she underwent a decompressive craniotomy and evacuation of the haematoma and frontal contusions. When the skull vault was opened the brain was noted to be pulseless.
Post operatively, our client remained in hospital until she was transferred to a rehabilitation unit, almost two years later, when she was transferred to a nursing home.
The care at the nursing home was poor and our client was very unhappy there. She was moved to an alternative nursing home and it was a great improvement on the previous care home but nevertheless it did not fully cater for her brain injured state. The care homes had been largely funded by the local authority but with the family providing top up funding.
The brain injury our client sustained left her with severely impaired mobility and wheelchair dependent. Her left arm is so weak that there is no useful movement. She is able to communicate but her memory and concentration are impaired. She suffers from anxiety and distress with regular tearful episodes. There are occasional seizures. Our client was left lacking the capacity to litigate or manage her own finances.
Osbornes Law approach to gaining answers for the family and compensation
Medical Negligence solicitor, Stephanie Prior pursued a claim with our client’s daughter acting as litigation friend, this was a consequence of the delay for her mother to receive surgical intervention following her fall.
The Defendant NHS Trust admitted that our client should have been operated on within 2 days of her fall. Stephanie argued within 1 day of her fall, if she had been operated on sooner, our client would have made a good recovery, regained her independence and would have been able to return home.
The Defendant’s case was that the primary brain injury, caused by the fall, namely the intra cerebral contusions and a subdural haematoma causing brain swelling on the right, would have caused significant brain damage in any event; but that earlier decompression would have avoided “some of the left sided weakness”; she would not have been able to return to the normal activities of daily living or independence given the severity of the initial head injury and her age.
Proceedings were issued and served on our client’s behalf and then a stay of proceedings was agreed between the parties to allow them time to gather evidence and try to settle the claim.
Expert evidence was obtained from a Consultant neurosurgeon, care expert, case manager, neuro-rehabilitation expert, physiotherapist, neuropsychologist, accommodation expert, technology expert, and neuropsychiatrist. A professional deputy was also appointed to manage our clients financial affairs and a forensic accountant was instructed to advise on settlement proposals.
A joint settlement meeting took place in November 2018 and although negotiations began the case did not settle until January 2019.
Our client had been married since 1962; but, as a result of her fall, she had been unable to live with her husband for over 5 years, with only occasional weekend visits to the family home. This was highly distressing for both of them and for the rest of the close-knit family.
Following settlement her family are now working towards moving their mother back home, so she can live with her husband again. Adaptations will be required to their home and 24 hour nursing care package will be put in place before this can happen.
The final settlement Order for this case was very complex as our client’s predicted life expectancy, at time of settlement, was 6 years according to the medical experts consulted.