Settlement for lawyer suffering severe incontinence following missed third-degree tear | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Settlement for lawyer suffering severe incontinence following missed third-degree tear

Jonathan Zimmern achieved settlement of £465,000 on behalf of a client who suffered a third-degree tear that was missed following the birth of her son, and for the incontinence that followed. These ongoing issues have seriously disrupted her life and particularly her ability to work.

Amy, a solicitor, was admitted to one of the hospitals managed by the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust. The treating team performed an episiotomy and delivered her son using Neville Barnes forceps.

Following the birth, the treating team examined Amy and incorrectly concluded that she had suffered a second-degree tear. A second-degree tear includes damage to the posterior vaginal walls and perennial muscles, but the anal sphincter remains intact. A third-degree tear extends to the anal sphincter. Following this incorrect diagnosis, a second- degree tear repair was performed, leaving the injury to the anal sphincter unrepaired.

In fact, Amy had suffered a 3c vaginal tear – a complete tear through her internal and anal sphincter muscles. This was undiagnosed and was not appropriately repaired. She suffered infection, perineal breakdown and incontinence.

Amy instructed Fieldfisher to investigate her claim for negligence. Following a review of Amy's medical records and having instructed a colorectal surgeon to give their opinion, our investigation suggested that there had been a negligent failure to identify and repair the tear.

As a consequence of the failure to properly repair the tear, Amy suffers from significant incontinence which has had a devastating effect on her life. She has undergone repeated and invasive investigations and therapies in relation to the injury. She has been obliged to reduce her working hours. She has also been told that she may require future surgeries and that it is likely that her incontinence will worsen with age. Had the appropriate repair been performed, Amy would have avoided the symptoms of faecal urgency and incontinence she now suffers.

We served detailed evidence on the Defendant, but they denied liability. While they accepted that Amy's third-degree tear was missed as fact, they did not accept that it was negligent to have done so. They argued that the treating team had performed a thorough and competent check before and after the repair and that it was reasonable to have missed this tear. Despite this denial, Jonathan and his team continued to work on Amy's case and to quantify the losses she suffered as a result of her injury.

The Defendant appeared unwilling to move from their refusal to accept liability but, after some careful negotiations which resulted in a Round Table Meeting, Jonathan was able to negotiate a £465,000 settlement.

While no amount of money can save Amy from the ordeal she has been through, settlement gives her some financial support for the pain and suffering, loss of earnings, other past losses and future losses that she may incur as a result of the injury.

Following the settlement, Amy said, 'it has been a pleasure to work with Jonathan throughout my case. I found him extremely empathetic, approachable and supportive and he was able to guide me through the legal process with ease.  I would recommend him highly to others without reservation.'

Contact us

For further information about birth injury claims, please call Jonathan Zimmern on 03304606779 or email


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