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Case Study

Fifteen year old wheelchair bound after spinal surgery goes wrong

We pursued a spinal injury compensation claim for Nessa who was left wheelchair bound after a spinal fusion operation. Her previous solicitors had advised her to accept £2,500 but we secured more than £17,000 compensation, which Nessa was happy to accept.

In 1990, Nessa, then aged 15, was suffering from scoliosis, a medical condition where a person's spine is curved from side to side.

She was advised that she required a spinal fusion operation. Nessa also suffered from mild spasticity and at the same time as the spinal surgery she was to have an operation to release tendons in her legs to ease difficulties she experienced when walking.

The operations were performed on 23 November 1990. A wake-up test was performed during the operation and it found that Nessa could not move her feet but at the end of the operation, Nessa was able to move her feet. 

Two days later Nessa complained that there was a tingling in her toes and that she couldn't move them either. She was taken back to theatre six hours later where the metalwork from the internal fixation was removed. 

Unfortunately this operation was unsuccessful and Nessa never regained movement in her legs. As a result, Nessa is now confined to a wheelchair.

Nessa was pursuing legal action through another law fun and was not happy when they advised that she accept a payment into court of £2,500. She felt that this was too low and asked us to investigate the claim for her.

We reviewed the papers and felt that the case warranted further investigation. We had also conducted a similar claim against the same surgeon.

Whilst those investigations were continuing, the defendants unsuccessfully attempted to strike out Nessa's claim for want of prosecution.

Our investigations indicated that Nessa would likely have been wheelchair bound within five years anyway as her spinal damage was so severe.

Our evidence showed that the damage to Nessa's spinal cord was due to a compromise of the blood supply through a combination of surgical stress, pre-existing kyphosis and pre-existing radiotherapy damage.

But we still felt that £2,500 was far too low for damages and we negotiated an increased settlement of the claim in the sum of £17,365 plus costs. Nessa got to keep all of her damages.

Nessa was happy to accept more than £17,000 compensation and since the case has completed her A Levels and obtained her undergraduate degree. She is now working as a Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist.

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