A Guide to Claiming Spinal Abscess Injury Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a spinal abscess injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a spinal abscess injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
A spinal abscess is an infection of the tissues that surround the spinal cord, characterised by the build up of a pus-filled sac. The condition is caused by bacteria entering the spine, usually after a back injury or trauma.
Spinal abscesses may also develop as a complication of medical procedures such as epidural anaesthesia or catheterisation of the spine.
Since antibiotics have been routinely used during medical procedures, spinal abscesses have become extremely rare. When they do occur, however, these abscess can have very serious consequences. Any delay in detecting and treating a spinal abscess is capable of causing permanent paralysis and damage to the spinal cord.
Anyone who has suffered a spinal abscess after receiving substandard medical treatment, or experienced a delay in diagnosis or treatment of an abscess may be eligible to make a medical negligence claims.
Do I have a spinal abscess injury claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:
- there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
- the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.
To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to a spinal abscess injury claim expert on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
Is compensation always payable?
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.
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.
The amount of money you could claim for your spinal abscess injury will depend on:
- the extent 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 spinal abscess injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
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 are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after a spinal abscess injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for a spinal abscess injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a spinal abscess injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your spinal abscess injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Will a clinical negligence claim affect my benefits?
It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Spinal abscess injury compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a spinal abscess injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your spinal abscess injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a spinal abscess injury claim take?
The length of time needed to get compensation for a spinal abscess injury can vary considerably.
For example, a straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. However, if court proceedings are necessary it could take 2 to 5 years. Usually, a medical negligence claim should take 12 to 36 months. For more information, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a spinal abscess injury after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your spinal abscess injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
Spinal abscess symptoms
A spinal abscess injury may initially present no symptoms. As the abscess grows, the patient may begin to experience the following:
- Numbness and tingling in a localised area of the skin
- Pain in the back which radiates to the hips, legs and arms
- Rapid progressive weakness or paralysis
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
Because the initial symptoms are vague and may indicate many diseases, doctors will try to detect the presence of an infection with a blood test. Medical staff may also look at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the spinal cord or test a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. Fluid is extracted from the spine using a procedure known as a lumbar puncture.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the recommended treatment is to drain the abscess and flush out the bacteria using a saline fluid. The patient is usually given intravenous antibiotics to prevent further infection.
Making a claim for a spinal abscess injury
Early diagnosis is critical to the chances of a patient making a full recovery from a spinal abscess injury. Left untreated, the abscess could burst allowing millions of bacteria to spread throughout the body. An enlarged abscess could also compress the spinal cord leading to neurological conditions such as paralysis, incontinence and nerve loss. In some cases, a spinal abscess can be life-threatening.
Medical staff owe a duty of care to provide treatment in a professional and timely manner. A claim may arise whenever this duty is breached and the patient suffers injury as a result. Examples include:
- A delay in diagnosing the spinal abscess
- Failure to treat the spinal abscess as an emergency case
- Incomplete draining of a spinal abscess resulting in further infection, spinal compression or scarring
- Surgical error during a spinal epidural, lumbar puncture or catheterisation procedure
- Errors in the delivery of post-operative care.
This list is not exhaustive. A claim may be made whenever it can be shown that the medical practitioner behaved in a manner which dropped below reasonably expected standards. The arguments will often be highly technical, revolving around the details of extensive medical reports.
No win, no fee - the facts
With a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful.
Our no win, no fee promise
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a spinal abscess injury compensation claim.
What do I pay if I win my spinal abscess injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my spinal abscess injury claim?
If your spinal abscess injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in medical negligence cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:Call me back
if you can claim
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Spinal abscess injury FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
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.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert