Making a cauda equina compensation claim – what you need to know
Cauda equina syndrome occurs when nerves at the base of the spinal cord become compressed. These nerves – connected to the legs, feet, and pelvic organs – include those that are responsible for bowel and bladder control, as well as sexual function.
Therefore, should cauda equina syndrome be allowed to progress, it can cause incontinence, impairment of walking function, partial or complete loss of sexual function, and at worst paralysis. This makes it a medical emergency, and if it is not treated promptly or correctly it can change people’s lives for the worse.
When are you eligible to make a claim for cauda equina?
You are eligible to make a clinical negligence claim for a cauda equina injury, if:
- you have either developed cauda equina syndrome as a result of substandard surgical treatment; or
- you have developed the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and there has been a negligent delay in treating it, leading to a worse outcome.
Often a claim arises when a patient develops cauda equina symptoms, but their GP or a hospital doctor is not sufficiently alert to them. As a consequence there is a failure to perform the tests which would allow the condition to be diagnosed, so there is a delay in operating to decompress the affected nerves.
The result will often be that symptoms which might otherwise have been only transitory become permanent. You then have the right to be compensated if your claim can be proved.
It is not particularly easy to know whether you have a viable claim or not; medical negligence is a complicated field, and cauda equina cases can be especially complex. You are therefore advised to seek advice from a specialist lawyer, such as the team at Royds Withy King who have dealt with many claims just like this.
How do you make a compensation claim for cauda equina?
In order to make a compensation claim for cauda equina syndrome, all you need to do is to get in touch with a specialist firm such as Royds Withy King. We will advise you as to the strength of your claim, and how it can be funded. We will then obtain all of your medical records, prepare witness statements, commission expert medical evidence, value your claim, and carry out all negotiations on your behalf.
If necessary we will arrange for the issuing of court proceedings and prepare your case for trial. Only a tiny proportion of cases actually proceed to trial, but it is vital to instruct a lawyer who is prepared to take the case there if necessary.
It can seem daunting to start a claim for compensation against a doctor or other medical professional, but we genuinely will take care of everything on your behalf.
Other frequently asked questions about claiming for cauda equina
How much compensation might I receive for a cauda equina claim?
Each case is different, but a typical settlement will be in excess of £100,000. Many settlements will be far in excess of this and may approach or exceed £1 million. This will compensate you for your pain, suffering, and “loss of amenity” (the loss of ability to do things which you have previously enjoyed) as well as for any direct financial losses which you have suffered.
The general damages for pain and suffering are set quite high because cauda equina syndrome is such a painful and distressing condition. The level of direct financial losses does vary widely from case to case, as you would imagine.
Will I have to pay for my cauda equina claim if I lose?
Will I have to pay anything for my cauda equina claim if I win?
It depends on the method of funding. If you have some form of legal expenses insurance which covers your claim, the answer is usually no, in which case you will retain all your damages. If we run your claim on a Conditional Fee Agreement basis then you are guaranteed to retain at least 75% of your damages, with up to 25% being deducted to meet the cost of insurance and a success fee. Further information about funding a claim can be found here.
Do cauda equina claims usually succeed?
Obviously each claim is unique and has its own facts, which determine how likely it is to succeed. It is fair to say that there is a fairly small “window of opportunity” to treat cauda equina, which can make the cases harder to win when the allegation is about delay in treatment. Instructing a lawyer with genuine expertise in these claims is the best way to maximise your chances of winning.
How long will my cauda equina claim take?
It varies, but a typical case may settle within three years of lawyers being instructed. If negligence is admitted we will always obtain early interim payments of compensation so the injured person can start to improve their quality of life at the earliest opportunity.