StaRs blog: The new ‘freelance’ solicitor: practical aspects and our predictions
Richard Lodge acted for our client who at the age of 15 sustained a spinal cord injury at the C5/6 spinal interspace during surgery to correct scoliosis. The injury resulted in paraplegia. Our client is now wheelchair dependent and will remain so for the remainder of her life. She is dependent upon others for all aspects of daily living including mobility, personal hygiene, transfers and while out of the house accessing her local community. The injuries also had a profound impact on her independence and psychological well-being.
Our client pursued a claim against the NHS Trust who provided the surgical treatment alleging that trauma to her spinal cord was negligently sustained during surgery.
The case was complicated by the existence of our client’s rare underlying genetic neurological condition causing abnormalities to her autonomic nervous system. One of the symptoms associated with this condition was orthopaedic problems including scoliosis. Our client’s underlying condition resulted in a shortened life expectancy in addition to the increased mortality risks exercised with a spinal cord injury. The settlement in this case was postponed until the Court of Appeal gave its decision in the recent case of Reaney -v- North Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Following the Court of Appeal's decision in Reaney, a compare and contrast exercise was required to assess how our client’s condition would have progressed without the spinal injury compared to the combination of the underlying injury and the spinal injury.
The parties embarked upon settlement discussions and agreed a package that included a lump sum to be paid at the point of settlement together with on-going annual payments to cover the cost of care and case management for the remainder of our client’s life. On a capitalised basis the settlement amounted to £4,844,750. The claim included damages for our client’s pain and suffering, care, case management, therapeutic input, future medical treatment and the purchase and adaptation of suitable, wheelchair accessible, accommodation.
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