Claiming for brain injuries caused by Medical Negligence
The human brain is an incredible organ that controls all functions of the body. It is unfortunately also one of the most vulnerable to injury, which can cause life-changing conditions from personality and behavioural changes, to being left in a permanent state of minimal consciousness.
Brain injuries can be caused by anything from illness to a road accident. On occasion, though, the cause can be a result of Medical Negligence, and in these cases, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
How can brain injuries affect me?
The brain is a complex, multi-functioning organ which modern science has only recently begun to understand clearly. Different areas of the brain control, for example, conscious thought, memory, emotions, the senses, physical action and autonomic functions such as breathing and the heartbeat.
If the brain is damaged, whether through traumatic injury or a neurological condition, the symptoms you experience depend heavily on which areas have sustained injury. Common outcomes may include:
• memory loss
• loss of sensation in areas of the body
• weakness of movement
• partial or complete loss of sight, hearing, smell or taste
• extreme changes in personality or behaviour
• loss of motion
• cerebral palsy
In the worst cases, a brain injury can result in a state of minimal consciousness or even death. Even if the brain injury is slight, the symptoms could still affect your ability to function, sometimes temporarily. These could include nausea, headaches, confusion or difficulties with memory.
How can Medical Negligence cause brain injuries?
Brain injuries can occur in a number of different ways.
Traumatic brain injuries are typically caused by a blow to the head or other external force, and are usually the result of an accident or an assault. It is important that head injuries are assessed quickly but thoroughly, because urgent treatment is sometimes needed. A bleed within the skull can lead to pressure on the brain, which can result in brain damage if the pressure is not relieved quickly enough. However, the full extent of a head injury may not be immediately obvious, and negligent mistakes and delays in treatment can happen.
Like all cells in the body, brain cells are dependent on oxygen being delivered by the blood. If the flow of blood or oxygen is interrupted, this can cause damage to the brain. While some organs can recover completely, any damage to the brain may result in permanent injury.
Doctors are often responsible for making sure that this normal flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is not interrupted. For example, one of the primary responsibilities of an anaesthetist during an operation is to make sure that the patient remains healthy and that this flow of blood and oxygen is working as it should be. If medical mistakes cause, do not prevent or do not recognise a problem with this flow of blood and oxygen, it may be Medical Negligence.
Unfortunately, one example of brain injury is due to complications during labour, resulting in the baby not receiving enough oxygen. The main way of monitoring a baby during labour is by checking the baby’s heart rate, which can be done every few minutes or monitored continuously by a CTG machine. Either way, unfortunately it is not always easy to recognise signs of a problem, or perhaps a midwife or doctor does not respond quickly enough to prevent a brain injury.
Brain injuries can also happen as a result of illness or disease. Sometimes this is unavoidable even with the best possible care, but if there is a delay in reaching the correct diagnosis or the correct treatment is not given, that may be Medical Negligence. Examples include a failure to diagnose a tumour or neurological disease and provide treatment before damage is done, or a failure to give antibiotics for an infection. If earlier or different treatment could have prevented the brain damage, this could be a case for Medical Negligence.
Surgery on the brain is very complex, and would usually only be considered if it is absolutely necessary because the risk of injury is often quite high even with the best possible care. If the surgical team make a mistake during surgery, damage can be done to a previously unaffected area of the brain and this may be negligence.
However, because such surgery is so complex, it is vital that patients are given a complete explanation of the risks and benefits of surgery as well as a full explanation of any other options in a way that they can understand. Patients should also be given enough time to consider their options and ask questions. If this does not happen, they may not have given “informed consent” to undergo the operation. If they would have made a different decision if they had been given all the information, then it may be possible to bring a claim.
Congenital brain damage as a result of a genetic condition might seem to be nobody’s fault, but it could be Medical Negligence if the parents were not advised of the risk.
How can I claim for brain injury caused by Medical Negligence?
If you feel you have suffered brain injury, whether mild or acute, as a result of Medical Negligence, you have the right to make a claim for compensation. This is also the case if you are parents of a child under eighteen in the same position, or if a partner or close family member has died in these circumstances.
Not all brain injuries sustained during treatment by a health organisation are caused by Medical Negligence. This is just one of many reasons why your first step, if you feel you may have a case, should be to contact a solicitor who specialises in Medical Negligence claims.
As with most Medical Negligence claims, there are time limits for bringing a claim. This is usually three years, but the rules are complicated, and it also takes time to investigate any potential claim. For that reason, we would again always recommend that you speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.
What compensation can I expect to receive?
Any compensation that is awarded will depend on the extent of the injury and how badly the individual has been affected. In the most serious cases, the claim can cover loss of earnings, the cost of providing care and support as well as medical care, therapy and specialist equipment.
How can I find a solicitor?
The most important step is to ensure the solicitor you choose specialises in Medical Negligence claims and has a substantial track record in winning cases related to brain injuries. A solicitor without the experience in this area would not have the necessary expertise to advise or support you with all aspects of your case.
Osborne Morris & Morgan- the Medical Negligence Specialists
The Medical Negligence team at Osborne Morris & Morgan are nationally recognised as dedicated experts in this field of law and only work on this type of case.
Our head of department, Clinical Negligence lawyer David Turner, has been described as “highly intelligent, very practical and an experienced problem solver” by The Chambers & Partners Guide. They have described Gary Williams, the other Partner in our Medical Negligence department, as “Phenomenal” and “recognised for his impressive dedication to clients”.
We work on a no-win, no-fee basis.
If you feel you have a case to claim for brain injury, or any other injury caused by Medical Negligence, please get in touch with us to discuss your situation on 01525 378177 or contact us online.