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Case Study

Settlement following negligent surgery at St Mary's Hospital for window cleaner whose abseil failed

Steven suffered very serious injuries including serious spinal and musculoskeletal trauma when his abseil failed from 60 feet while he was working as a window cleaner on Oxford Street. He was admitted to St Mary's Hospital, London to undergo treatment for his multiple injuries.

During surgery to repair the complex fractures in his left arm, a major blood vessel in his upper arm was damaged. This went unnoticed for several hours, meaning there was severe compromise to the blood flow to Steven's left arm. The muscle tissue in Steven's arm perished due to the poor blood supply and, despite extensive surgeries to remove the tissue and prevent further damage, Steven was left with a non-functional left arm.

This loss of function was detrimental to Steven's recovery in hospital and he spent much longer on the rehabilitation ward than would have otherwise been the case. When he was discharged, he was unable to return to his own apartment that was several floors up with no lift. He was unable to use crutches with both arms, which severely affected his mobility. He had to instead rely on a walking frame and a wheelchair to mobilise. He also needed help from other people with basic two-handed tasks such as preparing and cooking food.

St Mary's Hospital accepted that the damage to Steven's major blood vessel was negligently caused, and that the failure to recognise the damage for several hours was also unacceptable. Had the damage and subsequent delay not occurred, Steven's left arm would have recovered to near normal.

Paul McNeil and his team instructed experts in the fields of trauma rehabilitation, orthopaedics, occupational therapy, care, psychiatry, accommodation and assistive technology to assist in valuing the cost of Steven's additional needs arising from the loss of function in his left arm. The assessment of the case was complex because Steven already had very serious injuries for which he would always have needed help from others.

At a settlement meeting a month before a trial, Paul recovered £1.8875m in compensation for Steven. This will fund a dedicated care team, lifelong therapy sessions and expensive equipment. At the conclusion of the claim, Paul paid tribute to Steven's resilience in dealing with two life-changing events in such close proximity. Steven's award will hopefully enable him to look to the future with some optimism and confidence.

Steven said:

"I would like to thank everyone at Fieldfisher for their hard work and professionalism in my case. Everyone went over and above what I expected when I instructed Fieldfisher to take on my case. 

The money will not bring back my arm but it will help me going forward in my life. 

I would like to especially thank Paul and Henry who guided me through the hard and sometimes emotional process of a claim, and all the professionals that I saw were brilliant especially Maggie [case manager].

Fieldfisher, I can’t thank you enough."

For further information about surgery negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 0330 460 6804 or email


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