Emily's story

Emily was her mother’s second child; her first had been delivered via caesarean section. Emily’s mother had not been notified of the risks of a vaginal birth after having had a previous caesarean.  Had she done so she would have not agreed to a vaginal delivery. Our investigation found that she had not been given the information necessary to make this choice - with devastating results.  Emily was born in a very poor condition as she had suffered a brain injury at birth and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. 

Emily’s mother was admitted to hospital after her waters had broken. A CTG trace was commenced which showed that the baby was doing well. Later that evening, a junior doctor was asked to review the trace which showed signs that Emily was in distress but the significance was not recognised by the doctors and so there was no change to the plan to proceed with a natural delivery.  

Emily’s parents approached us for help. We secured legal aid funding and started the investigation. We met regularly with Emily’s parents, and involved them in every step of the investigation. We want to make sure that as a team of lawyers, we are approachable and that families feel comfortable in picking up the phone and speaking to us. We remind clients daily that “it is your case” and we never lose sight of that. 

We instructed experienced experts who confirmed that Emily’s mother should have been given the information necessary to make an informed decision about how Emily would have been delivered. They also advised that the CTG trace should have resulted in an emergency caesarean section which would have avoided injury to Emily.   

We prepared a detailed letter of claim to the defendant Trust  which resulted in an admission of liability and that  Emily would have been born in a healthy condition, had she been delivered by caesarean section, without labour, or if the last hour of labour before delivery had been avoided. 

As soon as the liability was admitted, we started working on gathering the evidence required to ensure that Emily recovered the compensation she deserved to provide for her for the rest of her life. An interim payment of damages of £2 million was obtained to make life immediately easier for Emily and her family until a final settlement could be reached. 

The interim payment enabled Emily to move in to a new property, which better suited her needs. The new build property had wide doors to accommodate her wheelchair; a lift so that she could have free run of her new home, and not be reliant on others to carry her up the stairs. The interim payment also enabled Emily to move to a school that was more capable of meeting her educational needs. 

Emily also claimed the costs of building a hydrotherapy pool at her new home. The hydrotherapy pool is now built and Emily delights on using it on a regular basis to give her some time out of her wheelchair and a chance to have fun with her friends. 

The full claim settled following out of Court negotiations for a global sum of over £6m (one of the biggest of its time); money which Emily is using towards having 24 hour care from professional carers; physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and to ensure that her home is fitted with the most up to date assistive technology equipment, so that Emily can live as independently as possible.   

The award and resolution of the claim meant that Emily’s parents could now look to the future knowing that Emily would be financially secure for the rest of her life. They were reassured that professional carers could help care for Emily, allowing them the opportunity to simply be Emily’s mum and dad.

To respect the privacy of our clients, names have been changed.

Mr Bennett - A Life Torn Apart By The Wrong Medical Advice

We all like to think we can trust our doctors to know what they are talking about. Even more so when they are giving you specialist advice about the risks of radiosurgery to your brain. Not all of us though think to make a note of what the doctor has just told us.

Mr Bennett did just that when he met with a Consultant Neuroradiologist at a Harley Street clinic to talk about the risks and benefits of having ‘gamma knife radiosurgery’ to a cluster of blood vessels in his brain, an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which posed a risk of bleeding. Mr Bennett was advised by this Consultant, over the course of a number of meetings, that the surgery had a “99%” prospect of success of getting rid of the AVM, that the procedure carried a very low risk of brain damage, and that the frontal lobe where the AVM was located was “safe and resistant to radiation”. Based on this reassuring sounding advice, Mr Bennett went ahead with the surgery.

Unfortunately, the Consultant’s advice was wrong. The risks of brain damage to the frontal lobe by this surgery were not “very low”, and in Mr Bennett’s case, brain damage occurred.

Within a couple of months, Mr Bennett had started to become withdrawn and lethargic, and was confused and unable to function. He was admitted to hospital where his condition continued to deteriorate and he began to display psychotic behaviour. Eventually he was diagnosed with having suffered tissue necrosis to the frontal lobe of his brain, caused by the gamma knife surgery.

Mr Bennett’s life and that of his wife and two young children was turned upside down. Mr Bennett underwent extensive rehabilitation in hospital and eventually returned home months later. His brain damage caused changes to his personality, with emotional and behavioural disturbances causing him to be aggressive and irritable, with increased impulsivity and at times socially inappropriate behaviour. He suffers from extreme fatigue and severe short term memory problems. He has difficulties with balance and fine motor function difficulties in his hands. He is no longer able to work and requires constant supervision and care. His marriage and personal relationships have been put under huge strain.

Mr Bennett’s wife came to us for advice. She had spoken to other solicitors who had refused to take their case on. The key strength in the case we thought was the handwritten notes made by Mr Bennett at the time of his pre-surgery meetings with his Consultant. When an expert told us what the correct advice should have been, that the surgery was actually a lot riskier than made out to Mr Bennett, the notes were crucial evidence to prove the case. If it wasn’t for that negligent advice, Mr Bennett would never have gone through with such a risky procedure.

It later transpired that the Consultant had made no notes of his own of the appointments, or if he had, they were never provided to us. The Defendant, the NHS Trust who employed the doctor, admitted full liability shortly after the claim was brought.

After a lengthy and detailed process of working out what he would need, Mr Bennett was awarded compensation worth millions of pounds to provide him with care, therapies, accommodation, equipment and money to replace his lost ability to work. Here’s what Mrs Bennett has to say:

“When other solicitors turned us down over the phone because our case was 'too complex' Knights’ Helen Niebuhr visited us and took us on.

We always felt that the team were totally genuine in wanting to help us, were always sympathetic and sensitive to our problems  and 'held our hands' all the way through the long litigation process.

There were obstacles along the way but our solicitor (Helen Niebuhr) never gave up, even when one barrister thought it was pointless to continue she fought all the way and found another barrister who took up the case.

Help and friendly advice was always on hand from both Laura Cook and Helen and complexities explained so that we were never felt to be a 'nuisance'. I felt it was always a very personal service.

I would recommend Knights 100% and cannot praise all those who worked on our case enough, the service was first rate. Our settlement cannot change my husband's condition but it gives our family financial security and will help us to manage his condition to improve both his quality of life and that of our family.

I look forward to Knights continuing support and cannot thank them enough for persevering with our case to achieve such a successful outcome particularly when the outlook was at times so bleak”.

To respect the privacy of our clients, names have been changed.

Ryan's Story

Ryan has cerebral palsy as a result of birth complications 26 years ago.

Ryan has cerebral palsy as a result of birth complications 26 years ago. His family had been previously advised by their original solicitor that they would not win a claim, and had even cancelled legal aid funding.

Knights reviewed the case, going back to the experts involved but asking different questions. This was turned into a clear winning case, with a full admission of liability and a settlement of £6.6million which was the highest award of its type at the time.

 

Amy's story

Amy has asymmetric spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. It was caused by a period of oxygen starvation at her birth, which resulted in a devastating brain injury.

During Amy’s birth, the CTG used to monitor her heart rate, started to show deep decelerations, indicating that she was in distress.  At the same time, a midwife had wrongly recorded that her mother’s cervix was fully dilated, which led the doctor to encourage her to start pushing.

When there was very little progress, a fetal blood sample was taken from Amy’s scalp, which showed that her blood was very close becoming acidotic , meaning that her oxygen supply was depleting.  Despite this, the doctor commenced Syntocinon, a drug used to encourage maternal contractions, to help speed up the labour which makes contractions stronger so can reduce blood supply and oxygen more.  When this had no effect, the doctor attempted to deliver JR using forceps, which failed as the position of JR’s head had been wrongly identified.  After attempting to rotate the head manually, the doctors used a ventouse cup to deliver Amy.  

Amy was born in very poor condition, being white and floppy and not breathing. She required resuscitation and intubation and was admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit. 

Because of Amy’s brain injury, she is unable to walk or stand unaided and relies on a wheelchair for most of her mobility.  She has significant impairment of fine motor control in her hands, and also suffers from severe anxiety and sleep problems as a result of her brain injury.  Despite her disabilities, Amy is a bright little girl who is able to communicate well with others. 

The Hospital trust initially denied any wrongdoing but Knights persisted and the hospital finally admitted that they were responsible for Amy’s injuries due to a delay in her delivery, without the need to go to a full Court hearing.  By way of compensation, Amy received £4.375 million as lump sum and an annual payment for the rest of her life, increasing a various key stages to a maximum of £140,000. 

The award of damages provides Amy with the care, equipment, therapies and accommodation she will need for the rest of her life.  Amy gets particular pleasure and therapeutic benefit from hydrotherapy and since receiving her compensation award we have helped her to build a hydrotherapy pool at her home, where she enjoys the freedom of movement and fun out of her wheelchair that she deserves.

To respect the privacy of our clients, names have been changed.

Ben's story

Ben was born in very poor condition by caesarean section.  An attempt at a ventouse delivery had failed and, instead of arranging a transfer to theatre for a caesarean section, an attempt at forceps delivery was made.  The manner in which this was performed caused a prolapse of the umbilical cord and lead to Ben being starved of oxygen in labour.  He was delivered by emergency caesarean section, but sadly not before the oxygen deprivation caused him permanent and significant brain damage.  Ben has epilepsy and cerebral palsy as a result of his brain damage.  He is dependant on his parents and carers for all of his personal care, including toileting, dressing, washing and most of his feeding. Ben is a motivated and bright little boy, who is determined to do as much as he can for himself, but he needs the right equipment to enable him to do that.  Ben has little intelligible speech, and cannot write, so uses specialist technology (including Voice Output Communication Aids - VOCAs) to communicate and for lots of his school work.  Ben cannot walk, so is reliant on wheelchairs. 

Knights worked with Ben and his family to bring a clinical negligence claim against the hospital Trust responsible for Ben’s delivery.  This enabled them to achieve an out of Court settlement.  Ben received a lump sum of £4million and in addition receives significant annual payments to fund his care, which will continue for the rest of his life. 

The settlement has allowed Ben to have a full time professional care team in place, which frees up his family to dedicate their time and energy to being a family to Ben, rather than full time carers. The family have now moved into a larger house, with space for live in carers, which is perfectly adapted to meet Ben’s needs and to maximise his independence at home.  Ben has access to modern and effective technology to allow him to meet his potential at school and to communicate better, and he has equipment, such as wheelchairs he can operate himself and specialist feeding aids, to allow him to do as much as possible himself.  He can now access the activities he really enjoys, such as swimming, hydrotherapy and cycling using a wheelchair tandem.

To respect the privacy of our clients, names have been changed.

Paul's story

Paul was born in 1984. Sarah had always blamed herself for Paul’s cerebral palsy and Paul’s treating doctor had suggested the same.  It wasn’t until he was 16 years old that Sarah decided to look at matters further after speaking to a friend who had recommended Knights. 

Sarah was diabetic and throughout her pregnancy, she attended the hospital every fortnight for blood tests to check her blood glucose levels. Despite these regular blood tests, the results of which were available to her Consultant had he have looked at them, Sarah’s pregnancy was allowed to proceed without treatment to control the blood sugars. 

Unfortunately, at 34 weeks pregnant Sarah noticed that Paul was moving a lot less and she was admitted to hospital for further monitoring.  Paul was finally born by caesarean section and in very poor condition.  He remained in hospital for the first year of his life. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy involving spastic diplegia, learning difficulties and epilepsy.  Paul relies on a wheelchair and others for all aspects of daily living.  Paul has unfortunately suffered a number of life-threatening epileptic fits, which are a constant worry for Sarah.  Life was extremely hard for Sarah and her family, and they did not have all of the equipment or the space they needed to properly look after Paul. 

Matters were complicated by the time that had elapsed but we were able to prove that the hospital should have recognised the problem with the blood sugars and provided treatment to Sarah during her pregnancy, which would have prevented the deterioration in Paul’s condition and his brain injury. 

Paul received £3,500,000 as a lump sum and payments of £275,750 every year for the rest of his life to pay for all of the care that he needs.  

Life is now very different for Sarah, Paul and their family.  They have now moved to a bigger house, which has all of the facilities that Paul needs.  Sarah now has people that come and help look after Paul, so that he is supervised 24 hours of the day and if he suffers an epileptic fit, there is help on hand straight away.  This has transformed both Sarah’s and Paul’s life and meant that Sarah can concentrate on being Paul’s mother, rather than his carer.  Paul particularly enjoys hydrotherapy and recently has had a hydrotherapy pool built in his garden, funds for which were claimed for as part of his settlement.

To respect the privacy of our clients, names have been changed.

Mrs Simpson's story

A catastrophic brain injury can happen at any time, without warning and have devastating consequences. This is what happened to the family of Mrs Simpson.

Mrs Simpson was 55 years old. She was married and the mother of three (adult) children. On a spring morning in April, Mrs Simpson left home as usual and drove to work at a nearby farm, where without any warning, she collapsed to the floor. She remained unresponsive for about 10 minutes. When she came round, she complained of a sudden onset of a severe headache. She also vomited.

Mrs Simpson was taken by ambulance to a nearby Accident and Emergency department. By this time, Mrs Simpson’s husband had arrived at the hospital. Mrs Simpson told a doctor that she had a “really bad” headache. The doctor examined her but he suggested that she should return home to rest. Mr and Mrs Simpson listened to this advice and left the hospital, despite Mrs Simpson being so unwell that she had to be taken to the car in a wheelchair.

When they arrived home, Mrs Simpson went for a lie down. She continued to complain of a very painful headache for the rest of the day.

The following morning, Mr Simpson got up to make a cup of tea. When he returned to the bedroom, he saw that Mrs Simpson was unconscious and breathing erratically. He called an ambulance and Mrs Simpson was returned to hospital. Whilst there, a CT head scan was performed which showed that Mrs Simpson had suffered a brain haemorrhage and it was the haemorrhage that was causing her headache. Mrs Simpson was transferred to intensive care.

Sadly, it was felt that the bleed was too extensive to treat surgically. As a result, following discussion with Mrs Simpson’s family, a ‘do not resuscitate’ protocol was agreed. Mrs Simpson underwent brain stem testing following which ventilation was stopped and she passed away. 

Mrs Simpson’s husband instructed the team to investigate allegations against the hospital Trust that it was negligent to have discharged Mrs Simpson without considering the possibility that she had suffered a brain haemorrhage and carrying out appropriate investigations.

Knights obtained expert evidence which showed that whilst it is likely that Mrs Simpson would have suffered disabilities in any event, even if the haemorrhage had been treated at the earliest opportunity, she would have survived and been capable of living an independent life.

We were able to recover a six figure damages award in compensation for  Mr Simpson, as Widow and Executor of the Estate of his late wife. The Chief Executive of the Trust later sent a letter of apology to Mr Simpson.

No amount of compensation will ever be enough to replace the loss of a loved one. However, when the claim settled, Mr Simpson said “On behalf of myself and my family, many thanks for all the work that was carried out by the whole team at Knights. The settlement will be used to help my three children to, in some small way, compensate for the loss of their mum.”

To respect the privacy of our clients, names have been changed.

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