Is a solicitor under a duty to warn their client of risks falling outside their retainer?
Stephanie Code and Jonathan Smith represented Mr K, who pursued a clinical negligence claim after the death of his wife following a failure to diagnose and treat her condition of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP). Mrs K was survived by her husband and 9 month old daughter.
Mr K’s 34 year old wife was admitted to hospital complaining of unexplained bruising, vomiting and nausea. During his wife’s admission, Mr K was aware that she was more ill than her doctors seemed to realise and had to argue with treating staff not to discharge her. His wife’s condition was capable of treatment, but the diagnosis was missed until a few days later by which time it was too late to save her. Unfortunately, she died just under two weeks after her first admission to hospital.
Mr K initially complained to the NHS Trust. The Trust did not admit liability and emphasised the rarity of the condition and the non-specific nature of the symptoms. The claimant reluctantly decided to pursue litigation and instructed Stephanie Code to launch a claim to investigate his wife’s death.
The claim was complicated by the fact that Mr K had suffered a spinal injury as a result of a road traffic accident when he was younger. As a result of this accident Mr K’s wife had provided him with the extra care and support that he needed. A claim was made in relation to this which the defendant argued would amount to “double recovery” because it had formed the basis of an earlier personal injury claim brought by Mr K for a spinal injury. The extent of the award for this was not specified but formed part of the financial settlement.
Kingsley Napley was able to secure a settlement for Mr K and his daughter during mediation of £560,000 in respect of the lost care and services that his wife would have provided had she not died. The mediation also afforded the claimant the opportunity to hear reassurances from the defendant about changes that had been made in relation to patient care at the Trust.
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