• We are extremely proud to have secured over £100 MILLION in damages for our clients between 2018 and 2019!
  • We're delighted to be featured in the Times Best Law Firms 2019 guide under personal injury
  • Potter Rees Dolan were on the Legal 500 Awards 2018 insurance shortlist for the North West

Brain injuries caused by clinical negligence

The expert lawyers at Potter Rees Dolan are here to help if mistakes made by medical professionals have resulted in a brain injury for you or your loved one. Brain injuries can have a devastating impact on the individual affected and those around them. They can lead to a lifetime of long-term medical complications, emotional stress and financial hardship for you and your family, which is why we’re here to support you.

We can’t begin to understand how difficult it must be for you and your family in this situation, but our team of expert clinical negligence solicitors have a real insight into the devastation brain injuries can cause and will use their expertise to help where they can.

That’s why you can rely on us at Potter Rees Dolan to help you fight for the financial award you deserve. And we know from first-hand experience just how important a successful claim can be. It can pay for a lifetime of care and therapy for you or your loved one as well as help you ensure your home is properly designed and equipped, improving your quality of life.

Our highly regarded clinical negligence team is made up of Helen Dolan, Lesley Herbertson and Gill Edwards, who all feature in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers guides. One of our guiding principles is to personalise our service for every single person we work with, and put our clients and their best interests first.

Our team is here for you and ready to help you get the support you need. Speak to us on 0800 027 2557. If you’d like one of our solicitors to call you back, fill in the contact form on the side of the page and we’ll call at a time of your choosing.

Recent case wins

Helen Dolan secures £8.25 million settlement for brain injured child

Woman left wheelchair-bound after bleed on the brain is left undetected - £2 million

Delay in CT scan left man with severe brain injury - £1.2 million

The brain

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It is part of the central nervous system and controls our bodily functions, personality, consciousness, speech, motor functions, and much more.

Brains are divided into numerous sections, with the largest and most significant being the cerebrum.

The cerebrum holds most of your higher brain function and is responsible for coordinating sensory and neural functions. It is also responsible for starting and coordinating voluntary activity in the body, such as movement.

The cerebrum is divided into two halves, called hemispheres. Each hemisphere has a series of sub-sections called lobes; with their own dedicated function. Here’s a breakdown of the four lobes and their respective functions:

  • Frontal lobe - used for decision making, where your personality is formed and where high-level mental processes such as planning take place. It’s also where your short-term memory is housed
  • Temporal lobe - responsible for processing auditory information sent from your ears, but also functions as your language centre, visual memory and stores your emotions
  • Occipital lobe - used for processing information sent from your eyes. This part of your brain processes information very quickly, so your brain can keep up with what you see. It helps you distinguish colour, fast moving objects and other visual cues
  • Parietal lobe - processes information related to your other senses, such as taste and touch.

There are other parts of the brain housed within each of these lobes, such as the thalamus, hippocampus and the cerebellum. Each of these areas of the brain are responsible for very specific functions, such as long-term memory storage and the release of hormones.

What is a brain injury?

A brain injury is where a trauma has been sustained to the head. Brain injuries are classified into two categories:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) - a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that results in the disruption of normal brain function. TBIs vary in severity depending on how strong the blow or jolt was in the initial instance
  • Acquired brain injury (ABI) - usually caused by medical conditions, such as stroke, anoxia, meningitis, tumours and aneurysms.

What kind of medical negligence can lead to a brain injury?

You may have been a victim of medical negligence if mistakes made by doctors, surgeons or other healthcare professionals have led you to suffer a brain injury. Some instances of negligence include:

  • Mistakes during surgery
  • Complications after surgery
  • Failure to diagnose or treat a cerebral bleed
  • Delay in treating raised intracranial pressure
  • Mismanagement of medication resulting in brain injury
  • Delay in diagnosis and treatment of brain tumour or abscess

How can I pursue a clinical negligence claim for a brain injury?

Potter Rees Dolan’s clinical negligence team has earned a reputation as one of the very best in the UK. Boasting a combined experience in serious injury law of over 60 years and comprehensive medical insight, the team has an unwavering dedication to help families recover the compensation they deserve.

About Helen Dolan, head of the department, Chambers 2018 says: “Helen is scrupulous in her preparation and organisation, highly experienced, and her knowledge and insight was extremely reassuring.”

Chambers 2018 says, Lesley Herbertson “has recently handled a delay of treatment case concerning cauda equina. She has additional capabilities in assisting with failings in district nursing and delays in diagnosis leading to brain injuries.”

Gill Edwards is described as being and "exceptionally good solicitor" and garners praise from a client who says: "The way that she helped me is amazing. She is fantastic.”

About our clinical negligence team, our clients are quoted in Chambers 2018 saying: "it was the personal attention we received, the knowledge of the specific needs and future hopes of the claimant, and consideration for our family life that made the firm the right match for us."

Our clients tell us that it is the empathy and care with which we act that sets us apart. We specialise in serious and catastrophic injuries, so we know how difficult it can be to live with severe disability. It is our aim therefore, to make the claim process as stress-free for you and your family as we can.

Funding

Most clinical negligence cases are funded on the basis of a “no win, no fee” agreement, otherwise known as a Conditional Fee Agreement. We can investigate your potential claim and you will not have to pay us a penny if your case is not successful. We will explain how a Conditional Fee Agreement works at our very first meeting.

You may already have a legal expense insurance policy. In the first instance, we’ll always start by investigating whether you can use the same policy for your case, before we consider whether a Conditional Fee Agreement is more appropriate.

What happens next?

First, we will discuss your circumstances in detail and help you understand whether you have a case or not. If we agree that you do, we will help you gather all of the necessary evidence to build a strong case. We do this to make sure we can give you the best chance to recover the right amount of compensation.

Your medical records are our first point of call - we will obtain them and go through them with you in depth.

We will then instruct independent experts to advise whether or not you or your family member has received substandard treatment. Once we have ascertained you have been a victim of clinical negligence, we will initiate court proceedings. We will progress the claim as quickly as possible, whilst always exploring opportunities to adequately settle the case early.

Where possible, we also work towards obtaining early interim awards. In the case of brain injuries, interim payments are vital to pay for things like rehabilitation, care, counselling and funds to improve access in your home.

Contact us today

Please do not delay, give us a call on 0800 027 2557. We understand from first-hand experience how devastating brain injuries can be, and we’re ready to get you the help and support you deserve. If you’d like one of our solicitors to give you a call back, fill out form on the side of the page or visit our contact page. If there is someone specific at the firm you would like to speak to, visit their profile on our people page.

FAQs

What are the most common types of brain injury?

The brain governs every single part of your body, and as a consequence brain injuries can have devastating consequences for those that suffer them.

Brain injuries often lead to a change in personality, memory loss, severe loss of mobility and loss or impairment of speech.

Usually, the part of the brain that is injured determines what kind of brain injury is sustained.

Some examples of conditions that can lead to brain injuries include:

  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage
  • Intracerebral haemorrhage
  • Oedema
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Brain tumour or abscess
  • Stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Cerebral palsy

What lifestyle adjustments are needed after a brain injury?

As the brain is a key part of your body, injuries sustained to this area can have devastating consequences. Victims often require lifelong help and support for themselves and their loved ones. Things you may have to think about include:

  • Requiring carers to assist with day to day tasks
  • Rehabilitation to retrain your body to perform tasks such as walking or holding objects
  • Making alterations to your home to improve access including specialist equipment
  • Speech therapy to improve language and communication skills
  • Re-learning how to perform routine jobs and activities

Compensation is extremely important to ensure victims of brain injuries caused by medical negligence can afford to cover the cost of such important changes to your life.

Useful Information

Brain Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall, usually where it branches.

As blood passes through the weakened blood vessel, the blood pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards like a balloon.

The medical term for an aneurysm that develops inside the brain is an intracranial or cerebral aneurysm.

Most brain aneurysms only cause noticeable symptoms if they burst (rupture).

This leads to an extremely serious condition known as a subarachnoid haemorrhage, where bleeding caused by the ruptured aneurysm can cause extensive brain damage.

If a brain aneurysm is detected before it ruptures, treatment may be recommended to prevent it rupturing in future. Most aneurysms won't rupture, so treatment is only carried out if the risk of a rupture is particularly high.

Encephalitis

This is a very rare condition but is very serious as it causes inflammation on the brain.

Symptoms can be flu-like, such as high temperature, headache and joint pain. More serious symptoms can then develop in a matter of hours. These can include changes in personality and behaviour as well as confusion or drowsiness and even seizures, These are classed as a medical emergency and an ambulance should be called immediately.

There are different types of encephalitis with various causes such as a viral infection or the immune system reacting to a previous infection. Treatment can include anti-viral medication or steroid injections.

Some people make a full recovery, some experience memory loss or epilepsy and some suffer permanent brain damage.

Here you can read about a PotterReesDolan client who suffered a brain injury after her encephalitis was misdiagnosed and treatment was delayed.

Epilepsy

This condition affects the brain and causes repeated seizures.

Seizures occur when the neurons in the brain fire off abnormal bursts of electrical impulses which can cause the brain and body to behave strangely.

Neurons usually conduct electrical signals and act as chemical messengers to communication to each other in the brain.

There are an estimated 500,000 people in the UK who have epilepsy and the severity of their seizures can differ from person to person; from going into a trance like state for a few seconds to losing consciousness and having convulsions.

Epilepsy can be diagnosed in childhood in some people but is also a very common side effect to a brain injury.

Medication can be prescribed but anti-epileptic drugs cannot cure the condition but are effective in controlling seizures.

Some people with epilepsy may undergo surgery to remove a specific area of the brain that is affected or install an electrical device to help control seizures.

Subarachnoid Haemorrhage

This is an uncommon type of stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain. It's a very serious condition and can be fatal.

sub-haem-main.jpg

Subarachnoid haemorrhages account for around 1 in every 20 strokes in the UK.

There are usually no warning signs but a subarachnoid haemorrhage sometimes happens during physical effort or straining – such as coughing, going to the toilet, lifting something heavy or having sex.

A person with a suspected subarachnoid haemorrhage needs a computerised tomography (CT) scan in hospital to check for signs of bleeding around the brain.

If a diagnosis of subarachnoid haemorrhage is confirmed or strongly suspected, you're likely to be transferred to a specialist neurosciences unit.

Medication will usually be given to help prevent short-term complications and a procedure to repair the source of the bleeding may be carried out.

The majority of subarachnoid haemorrhages are caused by a brain aneurysm bursting. A brain aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel, caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall.

It's not known exactly why brain aneurysms develop in some people. However, certain risk factors have been identified, including:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • excessive alcohol consumption

Severe head injuries often cause subarachnoid bleeding, but this is a separate problem known as a "traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage". Although the outlook for subarachnoid haemorrhage has improved in the last few decades, around half of all cases are fatal, and people who survive can be left with long-term problems.

Recovering after a subarachnoid haemorrhage can also be a slow and frustrating process, and it's common to have problems such as:

  • extreme tiredness
  • headaches
  • problems sleeping

Subdural Haematoma

A subdural haematoma is a serious condition where blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain. It's usually caused by a head injury.

a headache that keeps getting worse Symptoms of a subdural haematoma can include:

  • feeling and being sick confusion
  • personality changes, such as being unusually aggressive or having rapid mood swings
  • feeling drowsy
  • loss of consciousnessSubdural-Hematoma-photos.jpg

The symptoms can develop soon after a severe head injury (acute subdural haematoma), or very occasionally a few days or weeks after a more minor head injury (subacute or chronic subdural haematoma).

A subdural haematoma occurs when a blood vessel in the space between the skull and the brain (the subdural space) is damaged.

Blood escapes from the blood vessel, leading to the formation of a blood clot (haematoma) that places pressure on the brain and damages it.

Head injuries that cause subdural haematomas are often severe, such as those from a car crash, fall or violent assault. However, minor bumps to the head can also lead to a subdural haematoma in a few cases.

A minor head injury is more likely to lead to a subdural haematoma if you're over 60 years of age, taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, or have a history of alcohol misuse.

Subdural haematomas usually need to be treated with surgery as soon as possible. The two most widely used surgical techniques for subdural haematomas are:

  • craniotomy – a section of the skull is temporarily removed so the surgeon can access and remove the haematoma
  • burr holes – a small hole is drilled into the skull and a tube is inserted through the hole to help drain the haematoma

In a few cases, very small subdural haematomas may be carefully monitored first to see if they heal without having an operation.

A subdural haematoma is a serious condition that carries a high risk of death, particularly in older people and those whose brain was severely damaged.

Acute subdural haematomas are the most serious type because they're often associated with significant damage to the brain. Those who survive an acute subdural haematoma may take a long time to recover and may be left with physical and mental disabilities.

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