If cauda equina syndrome has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Cauda equina syndrome is a severe compression of nerve roots in the lower spine, causing back pain, leg weakness, and bowel or bladder dysfunction. It requires immediate surgical intervention to prevent permanent damage.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by Cauda Equina Syndrome, we can help. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.
In this article
Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is considered to be a surgical emergency. Compression of the nerves in the spinal cord can cause irreversible damage if not treated immediately.
Cauda equina syndrome can develop very quickly. Because the condition is so rare, it is often misdiagnosed as regular back pain. Misdiagnosis can cause the condition to worsen, resulting in irreversible damage. CES must be treated within 24 to 48 hours.
Am I eligible for cauda equina syndrome compensation?
You should be entitled to cauda equina syndrome compensation if your injury resulted from the negligence or actions of another person or organisation, or from an accident that was not your fault.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
How long do I have to claim cauda equina syndrome compensation?
In most cases, you have up to 3 years from the date of your accident or injury to start a claim.
If you were not immediately aware that you were harmed by someone else's negligence, the 3-year time limit runs from the date you were diagnosed and became aware of what caused your injury or illness.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an injury claim expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
How much compensation can I claim for cauda equina syndrome?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Cauda equina syndrome
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Updated December 2023
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages is compensation awarded to cover any financial losses and expenses you incur as a result of your cauda equina syndrome or negligent medical treatment. These damages aim to put you back in the financial position you would have been in, had your injury not occurred.
Special damages will also cover your medical treatment expenses, that might include X-rays, CT and MRI scans, surgery, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy and spinal stabilisation surgery.
How long do I have to start a claim?
If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.
It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.
What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?
You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.
The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).
It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.
Causes of the condition
A range of spine and back-related injuries and conditions can cause cauda equina syndrome to develop. A medical negligence claim can arise in circumstances where the syndrome was misdiagnosed but a reasonably able medical professional would have made a correct diagnosis.
Injuries and conditions that can lead to CES include:
- Traumatic injury
- Disk herniation
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal trauma
- Inflammatory conditions
- Infectious conditions
CES as a result of medical negligence
If the syndrome was bought on or worsened as a result of misdiagnosis, you may have grounds to make a claim.
The Cauda Equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord are involved in the activity of the lower limbs and pelvic function. If the problem is not treated immediately, it can lead to bowel and bladder dysfunction, sensory issues and paralysis.
If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an 'undesirable outcome'. Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.
Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.
Cauda equina syndrome claim case study
In a recent case, the claimant was aged 50 and started to suffer with leg pain. There was some numbness in his left calf down through his foot and the claimant was having difficulty urinating. As a result the claimant sought medical attention and was admitted to hospital. Tests were undertaken which failed to properly diagnose the problem and therefore the claimant received no treatment.
The symptoms continued with the claimant's condition deteriorating and ultimately surgery was performed to decompress the Cauda Equina nerve but unfortunately the delay in diagnosis of cauda equina compression was found to have caused permanent damage.
The cauda equina syndrome affected the claimant in a number of ways from incontinence to reduced sexual function which ultimately left the claimant unable to work.
Inevitably the problems that were suffered by the claimant impacted on his social life with the claimant unwilling to go out socially with friends as a result of the incontinence problems.
The defendants admitted negligence but said that the negligence did not cause the problems experienced by the claimant.
The solicitors acting for the claimant, however, successfully negotiated an out-of-court settlement. The terms of settlement awarded £100,000 to the claimant for pain, suffering and loss of amenity with a further £450,000 awarded for special damages including loss of wages.
Clinical negligence claims
Cauda equina syndrome injuries are usually categorised as clinical negligence. Click on the icon below for more information.
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About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.