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XX was working full time as a teaching assistant at a local school when she fell ill. After her condition worsened, she experienced a number of delays in diagnosis and then treatment at her local District General Hospital. Despite the delayed surgery taking place, this was too late to restore her neurology and she was left with an incomplete spinal cord injury and permanent paraplegia.
XX worked full time as a SEN teaching assistant, specialising in children with speech and language difficulties. She was incredibly fit and healthy with her main pastimes going to the gym with her husband as well as fitness and Pilates classes with her two grown up daughters.
Treatment and diagnoses
In February 2013, XX had a sore throat, which then led to neck pain. Joint pain then commenced and she was treated with antibiotics. She presented to the negligent hospital’s A&E on two occasions before the final attendance.
At this attendance XX had experienced a significant deterioration in the early hours of the morning and was unable to weight-bear. She also had become incontinent of urine. On arrival at hospital she was seen within an hour and a half of arrival and was given two possible diagnoses: transverse myelitis or spinal abscess due to discitis.
An urgent MRI scan was requested by the A&E doctors but refused by the radiology team who failed to recognise that this was an emergency situation. They instead scheduled XX for a less urgent slot the following morning. There were other patients with less urgent scans that were scanned and her scan was not prioritised appropriately. At the scan the following morning an abscess was discovered in her cervical spine.
The hospital then organised her transfer for emergency neurosurgery to drain the abscess and clear any infected surrounding tissue. Unfortunately, by that point XX had significantly deteriorated neurological function with a large reduction of power in her left side. This has continued post-surgery despite considerable rehabilitation as a result of the spinal cord compression from the abscess being untreated for almost 36 hours.
Two years’ after the incident, XX and her husband were both unemployed and he was providing all of her care with the assistance of their daughters. They had insufficient funds to pay for care privately and there were constraints on what care Mr X could provide. Despite their best efforts this resulted in XX falling and fracturing her femur in October 2018.
A full trial was scheduled for 10 days January 2019, but due to XX’s fall a few months earlier, it was agreed to be reduced to a liability only trial in January 2019 and proceeded on this basis. The Quantum trial was scheduled for June 2019.
At the trial, the defendant maintained a very robust and immoveable stance on liability despite Stewarts reiterating their previous concerns about the defence which had been raised on multiple occasions since taking instructions in 2013.
After reluctance from the defendant to deal with any negotiations and our making three liability offers and one quantum offer, the case proceeded to a liability only trial in January 2019.
On the second day of this trial, due to the clear deficiencies in their witness evidence to support the defendant’s case on breach of duty, we put a higher liability offer on behalf of XX to the defendants of 75%, which was accepted later the same day. A previous offer of 65% being rejected before the trial commenced, twice.
Following the liability trial, the client commented:
“Stewarts’ level of professionalism has been brilliant. Their expert knowledge and understanding of my condition and the problems I face is beyond question.
“Amy has been considerate and approachable and kept me in the loop with what was going on at every stage. Sometimes Amy would warn me that things may go quiet for a while, but that it was all continuing in the background and that was reassuring to know. The whole team were friendly and gave me good advice.
“We’ve applied for an interim payment which would make a big difference to me.
“There has been so much I hadn’t considered at the time of the accident, and Stewarts’ knowledge has made my life so much easier. Although they’re my lawyers, they have almost been my counsellors.
“The result is a big weight off my shoulders. It feels as though a cloud has been lifted and I can start to look positively to the future.”
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