Feeling powerless? A guide to handling brain injuries caused by medical malpractice

Feeling powerless? A guide to handling brain injuries caused by medical malpractice

Any injury or undiagnosed illness that affects the brain is likely to have lasting and far-reaching consequences, physical, emotional and financial. But what if the injury was due to medical negligence? In these situations, financial help can be a lifesaver. That’s why we’ve spoken to Your Legal Friend about how to get help if you’ve been affected by a medical malpractice.

For those affected by brain injury, it’s not uncommon for them to experience issues with balance and mobility, while many report memory loss, blurred vision and cognitive impairments. It’s even possible for a person’s mood and general character to change after injury.

This can be confusing, frustrating and sad for the person experiencing the issues, and for loved ones watching it all unfold, the same is true, but a sense of powerlessness often accompanies this.

Minor brain injuries, such as a concussion, as a direct result of accidents aren’t uncommon, but in rare circumstances, a brain injury can occur because of poor quality medical treatment.

Malpractice causes for brain injury

There are a variety of ways in which this can happen. Some people who have suffered a brain injury are discharged from hospital too early, meaning they go home to suffer a bleed on the brain or stroke.

Doctors often have a standard list of checks and scans that need to be performed in circumstances like this, and where these checks are neglected, it could be regarded as medical neglect.

It’s also possible for brain injuries to occur without external trauma. If during surgery or treatment the brain is starved of oxygen, this can lead to brain damage.

The same is also true of babies during delivery. If an obstruction stops oxygen from reaching the brain, and this could have been discovered and avoided sooner, any resulting brain damage caused could also be attributed to medical negligence.

The costs of living with the effects of brain injury

Unfortunately for many, while the damage done is life-changing, it causes further challenges that can make the situation much worse. For those who relied on their physical health to do their job, they may find themselves unable to work. For those who require extensive rehabilitation and support because of brain injury, the associated costs can be too much to bear, especially if they’re no longer working.

For many families, they find themselves faced with emotional and financial hardships that are overwhelming. The synergistic impact of these challenges can set back any form of recovery and, in some cases, tear families apart.

Compensation for brain injury

In those cases where clinical negligence causes brain damage and injury, there may be help at hand. The UK legal system provides victims and their families the opportunity to claim compensation.

The idea is that if a brain injury could have been avoided with the appropriate care and treatment that can reasonably be expected, a family should have their current and future losses covered where harm has been caused.

Compensation, in general, divides public opinion. But when a family is faced with monthly support and treatment costs well into the thousands, especially on what might now be a dramatically reduced income, is it fair that they should struggle and face bankruptcy? Or should the institution responsible put it ‘right’?

Contrary to popular belief, compensation isn’t a ‘payout’ that allows claimants to buy cars and go on holiday. It is in fact calculated to match the person’s costs of care, transport and any life changes needed to improve their now diminished quality of life, for the rest of their life.

While sensationalist stories talk about people winning 10s, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, many forget that the person affected may have lost as much as 10 or 30 years’ worth of salary because they can no longer work. When you consider that a salary of £20,000 over 10 years alone would be £200,000, it’s not difficult then to see where these significant numbers come from.

How to find help after medical negligence

Getting a settlement isn’t straightforward, so for many who aren’t familiar with the legal process, it’s crucial that they seek the help of a specialist medical negligence or brain injury solicitor.

Given the gravity of the situation, and that a claim for compensation can take anything from one to five years, it’s crucial that you spend some time looking for a good solicitor. Research their track record and read more about the firm they work for. Have they won any awards, such as solicitor of the year or are they recognised for a brain injury case?

Are they recognised by related brain injury groups and charities, such as headway or the brain injury hub? Do they have positive reviews and feedback online? Do your digging and list any questions that come up. If you’re stuck for questions to ask, Your Legal Friend has an FAQ section on its brain injury claims page.

Having done your research, start calling the law firms that stand. Once you’ve found a solicitor that can confidently answer your queries, who you feel is a good fit, then the next step is to instruct them. Instructing a solicitor often means agreeing to their terms of business and signing what’s known as a conditional fee agreement (CFA).

Claiming compensation for medical malpractice

Once the case is accepted and the terms of business have been signed, your chosen law firm will begin its investigation by requesting your medical records and taking statements from yourself and any witnesses that were involved. This will be compiled as evidence to help build and strengthen your case.

As part of the claims process, your solicitor will calculate your past losses (costs you’ve already paid out because of the injury, such as medical bills, hospital parking, etc.) as well as your future losses (future loss of income and pension contributions, and future care or support you may need). They will also calculate how much you may be entitled to for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity too.

Providing their calculations are reasonable and that the evidence is substantial, it’s likely that the health authority or trust responsible for your injury will ‘settle’. This is where it agrees to pay compensation outside of court to avoid going to trial, as trials are costly.

If your chosen firm is successful in getting you compensation, you will often pay a percentage of that to the firm to cover the costs of their work, while the rest is paid directly to you. If your claim is unsuccessful, if you signed a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, you’ll pay nothing. Unsuccessful claimants can seek help from charities for help and support if their claim is unsuccessful.

By Your Legal Friend

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