Clinical Negligence

Negligent spinal surgery; client secures significant seven figure sum in compensation.

The client in this spinal injury case, Mr H, underwent what he was told was a ‘straightforward’ decompression and laminectomy operation to the thoracic spine, however, during the procedure he sustained an injury to the spinal column which resulted in severe loss of power to both of his legs, and rendering him permanently wheelchair dependant.

Mr H originally began his case with another law firm, but he was advised that the case was not likely to succeed and he therefore approached Thomson Snell & Passmore, and James Cahan, who agreed to investigate his case from a fresh perspective and after several years of litigation a seven figure award for compensation was secured.

With the assistance of our independent medical experts, we began by analysing, the methods of spinal surgery used and the surgical angle of approach adopted, as well as the consent process.  After a significant amount of work and the involvement of a number of medical experts, including spinal surgeons and neuroradiologists, a significant body of evidence was compiled and allegations of negligence were presented to the defendant (what is now the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust).  The Trust denied all aspects of the alleged claim and the case was issued with the High Court in London.

The claim remained in dispute until just a matter of weeks before the case was due to be heard at a ‘liability only’ trial (this is a court hearing where just the issue of negligence is considered, and not the value (or quantum) of the claim),  at which point the Trust accepted that they would pay damages to Mr H, without the need to attend trial.

At this point we were able to obtain significant sums, in interim payments of damages, to allow us to engage a case manager to co-ordinate private care packages, along with and a multitude of therapies to improve Mr H’s day to day life as much as possible.  With the available funds Mr H was able to purchase a range of specialist equipment including electric scooters, and a variety of pieces of specialist equipment to allow him to enjoy elements of life that had been out of reach since the spinal injury was sustained; in particular a specialist electric off road buggy was purchased to enable Mr H to walk his dog on uneven country lanes, and on beaches, again.  Further funds were secured to support the purchase of a new property which then underwent a major renovation, and extensions, to provide sufficient space for carers to live and for equipment to be stored, as well as space for therapies, and hobbies.  The ‘schedule of loss’ in this case included a fully adapted workshop to enable Mr H to develop his hobby of woodwork, despite his injury.

All of the above was set up in parallel with the work being done on his legal case, to secure the necessary expert evidence to support the losses being claimed in the schedule of loss.   As well as specialist legal advice, this involved a range of experts from fields including; neurosurgery, spinal rehabilitation, care and assistance, aids and equipment, accommodation/home adaptations, pain management, dermatology to name a few.  All aspects of Mr H’s life were considered forensically to ensure that the damages sum was sufficient to cover all of the financial losses he had incurred, and the additional costs he would need to incur in the future.

After lengthy negotiations, and a settlement meeting, the parties reached agreement on a significant seven figure settlement.

James Cahan specialises in clinical negligence cases involving spinal injuries (including cauda equina cases) and has secured many millions of pounds for claimants who have been left with permanent spinal injuries.  Please contact him on 07733 891735 or email him on, if you want to discuss a potential claim.


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