Former carer wins legal battle over paralysis

A grandfather has won a legal battle following an epidural, which he requested not to have, was used and caused enough damage that he was left paralysed from the hip down.

The risks of an epidural injection Medical negligence claim made by carer suffering paralysis after epidural

Irreparable Damage

In 2010, Stephen Olney was admitted into hospital for a routine surgery. He asked not to be given an epidural injection as part of the operation when given the choice, in full knowledge of the risks associated with having one.

As a carer for over 35 years to people with spinal injuries, he had expert insight into the effects of failed epidurals in some of his charges. However, the doctors that performed the surgery decided to go against his wishes and sanctioned an injection which ultimately proved life changing.

Following surgery, he was not properly monitored and the damage escalated when his blood pressure dropped low enough that the blood flow to his spinal cord was deprived. This resulted in paralysis from the hip down and the damage was only spotted two days later, at which point he had an MRI scan and was told he would never walk again.

 

Medical Negligence Costs Lives

Although there are huge positives to having an epidural there are also risks. Perhaps the biggest risk factor with these procedures is what can happen after an operation. As evidenced by Mr Olney, not being monitored is what did the damage.

Doctors will do what they feel is best for a patient, but their judgement is not 100% accurate. Mr Olney’s case is by no means a one off and through our many years within the personal injury profession, we have handled many negligence cases that have carried the same kind of life changing repercussions as his.

Medical negligence is more likely to involve serious injuries given the circumstances surrounding them. Prescribing the wrong medicine can lead to negative side effects, bodily reactions and in the most severe circumstances, fatalities. A wrong move during an operation could see patients slashed or cut, again potentially causing major problems depending on the area of the body affected.

Epidural injection diagram - Sincere Law

 

Compensation isn’t a “Replacement”

Mr Olney’s case was settled at £2 million. It would be easy to mistake this as a  life changing figure, however, unfortunately for Mr Olney, no amount of money could replace the loss of use he is suffering in his lower body.

This is the toll often taken by serious injury sufferers. Compensation can offset new costs and treatment required post surgery, but it can only go some way towards resetting the sufferer’s life to how it was.

However, Mr Olney did admit that “What it can do is make life easier after the event”. The aim of compensation in serious injury cases is to financially secure an injured person’s life, dependant on circumstances. Paralysis for example could affect:

  • Working life (I.E Forcing retraining or retirement)
  • Physical Wellbeing (Could require physio or ongoing treatment)
  • Emotional wellbeing (Could require counselling)
  • Family Support (The injured person could be the main income earner)

In medical negligence cases of this nature, we often put together a specialist team together, who are responsible for planning and providing support for the victim and their families. The design behind this is to help try to rebuild a heavily altered life, as would be the case for Mr Olney. We would do this by supporting him and his family with alterations around the home, limiting the affect on them financially and ensuring they have access to the right level of care and support throughout the claim process and beyond.

For free advice on how we can help victim’s who have suffered an injury because of medical negligence, talk to one of our advisers today by calling 0800 092 2896. You can also get in touch via our contact page.

 

500 Injured in UK theme Parks in 2015/16

Statistics have emerged indicating that the UK currently holds a particularly dismal record of safety at it’s theme and amusement parks. The new figures reveal that over 500 people per year suffer injuries from malfunctioning rides leading to us to ask, is it time for the government to look into the safety records and regulations of UK parks to ensure this number drops?

 

Two major incidents

Over the last 12 months, Sincere Law has commented on two serious incidents in two UK theme parks. Last year, it was well documented the extent of the injuries suffered by those on board The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, when it malfunctioned and crashed, causing multiple passengers to require amputations. More recently a crash at M&D’s theme park in Scotland occurred when a car derailed causing multiple injuries to passengers which included children, many of them being kept in hospital for weeks.

In both cases, park officials were adamant that the safety standards were being adhered to and that they were freak accidents. These, plus a host of other injuries at local funfairs reported in the last 12 months, has in total led to 500 injury cases in the UK. This is up from a reported 489 in the 2014/15 season (of which around 120 were serious enough to require an investigation).

The Smiler ride required multiple riders to have amputation injuries

 

Tighter legislation?

Given the potential risks of injury (particularly among the larger rollercoasters and thrill rides) to those on board, the statistics create a worrying picture. Ideally the UK would like to have a zero injury rate but with increasing numbers year-on -year, could beg the question “do we need tighter health and safety regulation on theme parks?”.

Doing so could be problematic when dealing with small, travelling funfairs. This is because the owners of these can attempt to avoid investigation and fines easier than the static theme parks like Alton Towers, Thorpe Park or M&D’s. There is also the fact that theme parks are already subject to stringent health and safety laws.

Sincere Law’s Head of Catastrophic Injury, Chris Walker, believes that it is the tightening of safety laws AND the management of staff that could be the key to lowering the number of injured.

He pointed out that a lot of injuries are the result of faults not being picked up when checking a ride.

“Many injuries sustained at theme parks are often due to mistakes made when inspecting rides. This element of human error is the biggest risk when it comes to safety in theme parks. To lower the number of injured each year, there must be safeguards in place to hold people accountable for not carrying out proper checks and also ensure that these errors do not happen in the first place”.

Theme park accidents can cause a host of serious injuries

Will theme parks learn the lessons of the past few years and combat the rising number of injured in the 2016/17 season? Only time will tell.

Having dealt with clients facing this situation previously, Sincere Law can ensure that, in the instance that you or someone close to you suffers a serious injury at a theme park, you will receive the right level of support and care you need to recover.

For more information or to get some free advice without obligation call us today on 0800 092 2896 (lines are open from 9am to 7pm).

Alternatively you can get I touch using our contact form or arrange a for us to call you at a more convenient time using our request a callback feature.

 

Storms Hit UK Legal System as 3 Courts Remain Closed

With winds reaching 81mph and days of consistent, heavy rainfall; Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank rendered many areas of northern England devastated this Christmas period. Cumbria and Northumberland received the highest warnings during this time and suffered substantial damage to the local area.

Many local communities were affected, with homes being flooded, businesses affected and other local amenities getting hit hard; including Carlisle United’s football ground being washed out (requiring games to be played at neighbouring grounds for a period of time). Also on the list of damages is a selection of courts, forced to close while the after effects are being dealt with.

Storms

Access to Justice

The three courts affected during this period of horrific weather are Carlisle Magistrates Court, York Magistrates Court and Kendal Courthouse. Many ongoing cases are currently being hurriedly moved to nearby venues including Carlisle Combined Court, York Crown & County Courts and Harrogate Justice Centre.

While spreading the load between local alternatives is a proactive way to deal with the problems, it has caused a strain on local case management to keep the schedule moving smoothly. No word has come yet from the Ministry of Justice as to when we can expect normal service to be resumed, but with work well underway on the clean up, authorities are hoping it is sooner rather than later.

 

UK Flooding: Your Experiences

The floods have affected many of us and provided some striking scenes as towns lay devastated at the hands of nature. Here is a selection of tweets from some of those affected.

How Do You Keep In Control On Black Ice?

The biggest fear for UK motorists during the cold winter months and heavy snowfall is the possibility of driving over black ice. The dangers of losing control over a surface with no grip are very serious. However, there are methods to help keep you on the road and prevent road traffic accidents during the colder months.

 

What Is Black Ice?

Whether rain falls as sleet or freezing rain, depends heavily on the temperature of the air just above ground level. If the temperature is already around freezing or just above, there is no heat in the air to stop the rain from freezing while travelling to the ground. This type of rainfall becomes hailstone and while hail can stick and form ice on the road, it often retains its colour and becomes visible ice, allowing road users to be aware while driving over it.

 

Source

What becomes black ice is rainfall that passes through a layer of warm air on its way to the ground. Because of the warm air keeping it from freezing, it remains a liquid before hitting the ground and freezes upon impact. As the rain is still a liquid it will disperse over a larger surface area while freezing. This large area of freezing usually remains clear, containing no air bubbles, blending into the road surface, giving very little sign, other than a slight sheen, that the road has an extra layer sitting on top. The reason for it being labelled “black ice” is usually down to the fact it camouflages itself on the road surface by remaining clear.

What’s The Danger?

Sliding on ice of any kind is a potential danger to all road users and their surroundings. The added danger of not knowing whether or not the road surface is driveable can be the cause of many multi car pile ups countrywide, causing road closures and slow moving traffic.

Popular advice when driving on ice is to drive slowly and avoid losing grip. The way in which black ice freezes as a flat sheet over the road has the potential to turn tarmac into a sheet, as though the driver has their vehicle on glass. Even winter tyres can struggle to gain grip on these kinds of surfaces and because of this we would heavily advise to think about the necessity of a journey before setting out.

 

(Top tips for driving safely on ice)

Driving Safely With Black Ice

Black ice can’t always be accounted for on your journey. It’s the very essence of it, it is invisible. Local weather reports may give you an indication of ice on the roads; you’ll also be hoping that your local council has taken action and gritted the vast majority of roads on freezing nights, leaving only smaller side streets. As much as this usually resolves 99% of problems driving on ice, there is always the chance that part of your route has been missed. When ice has set in overnight, always assume you will encounter some. It’s much easier to be safe when it comes to road safety in the winter.

If you fall foul of black ice on the road, the chances are you may experience unwanted loss of traction and potentially spin out of control in the worst case. There are, however, a few safe driving tips to employ, should you find yourself on ice and needing to stay calm and in control at the wheel.

Time is definitely NOT of the essence

At any other time of year we can do our best to make meeting times and get to our destinations in good time. Icy weather is definitely a period in which driving slowly, despite the risks of running late, must be the priority. Other road users will be aware of ice on the road and are likely to keep a safe distance, also watching their speed. The last thing other drivers want is to skid and head into the back of your vehicle. Do not be afraid to take it steady and travel at 10mph if necessary or even less should the road surface prove particularly tricky ahead.

Reduce speed before slopes

When you come to the precipice of a down slope, this is a critical moment for keeping control downhill. Going too fast when hitting ice while travelling downhill could easily result in sliding and gaining too much speed to regain control before the bottom. With black ice being very difficult to spot it’s usually best not to drive at all. If there is no other choice, going slow, steady and keeping a level head (unlike the video below) is your highest chance of keeping in control.

(Abandoning your car is not the right response to slipping on ice)

 

Don’t allow speed to build

Consistent speed can help avoid unwanted slipping and grip issues on any area of road. The power being output into the wheels can keep a car steady, whereas accelerating on ice of any kind can generate wheel spin, car spins and more of an increase in speed over a slippery surface than you would want, which will affect overall control. Keeping a consistent speed on a down slope may be difficult at times, but a gentle foot on the brakes can help avoid skidding and spinning out.

Bravery when sliding

Should you feel your car begin to slide and turn away from your path, you may need to take the brave step of releasing the brake pedal and regaining control going forward. Locking out the front wheels can cause the car to continue going straight, which, if already misaligned, could cause you to veer off the road. Likewise, locking out the back wheels with the handbrake can cause the car to spin out and be a hazard to road users behind it.

Black ice can cause many serious injury problems and road traffic accidents during winter

 

Be alert, be aware, and be safe

When it comes to driving on an icy road, whether visible or black ice, we would recommend (along with other experts) that unless it’s unavoidable, don’t take the risk. It never requires a large catalyst to result in a car losing control on the road, no-matter how good the driver is behind the wheel. Treacherous roads are an understandable downfall to our country’s climate and family, managers and friends will all know this. If it’s better not to drive, come up with an alternative.

If there is no other choice, driving slowly and keeping the car on course are key. Usage of breaks should be to help assist with the path of the car, rather than an instant fix for veering off course; that could result in some serious damage to your car, yourself, other cars, property, cyclists and even pedestrians nearby. There is no such thing as going too slow after a night of freezing rainfall. Protect yourself, your vehicle and everybody around you by setting the example and keeping yourself in safe hands on the road.

 

What if somebody hits me?

If you happen to suffer an incident in the icy conditions and fall victim to an accident at the hands of somebody else, as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian or passenger, then you do have options to help get past any damages caused. Road traffic accidents in the winter on ice can escalate from what would be very minor bumps and scrapes, into serious incidents because of the lack of control.

Collisions in the winter months can not only cause excess, unnecessary damage but the cost of the damage both financially and physically can wreak havoc on carefully laid plans during the holiday season. If you do happen to suffer in an incident, Sincere Law is available to help deal with serious injury claims as a result of a road traffic accident on icy roads. We are available to contact every day from 8am to 9pm via phone on 0800 092 2896, by email at info@sincerelaw.co.uk or by filling in our contact form here on our website.

We’ve assisted clients up and down the UK for the last 24 years in the serious injury sector. Inside our headquarters we have assembled a large team of the top UK Solicitors each with their own extensive background. With so many professional resources available, your best choice in serious injury law is Sincere Law.