CAUDA EQUINA

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Cauda Equina Syndrome Claims

The consequences of poor or delayed care for people suffering from cauda equina syndrome can be extremely serious and challenging. It is therefore imperative that patients are able to bring successful cauda equina syndrome claims, with the help of a specialist solicitor who truly understands the condition and the issues surrounding it.

JMW has built an unrivalled reputation as a specialist firm in cauda equina syndrome claims, handling most cases on a no win, no fee basis. Our knowledgeable and professional approach has made all the difference to our clients; we have not only achieved cauda equina compensation settlements that have allowed them to rebuild their lives, we have also acted as a great source of support during an extremely challenging time.

If you or a loved one has been affected by cauda equina syndrome that was caused by medical negligence, our team of specialist solicitors is here to help. Contact us today on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online contact form and we will get in touch with you about making a cauda equina syndrome claim.

This average settlement total relates to cauda equina syndrome successful claims settled between 1 May 2021 and 30 April 2023, which range from five-figure sums to those running into millions of pounds. The cauda equina syndrome compensation payouts that JMW has secured have helped our clients to purchase specially adapted homes suitable for their disabilities, and cover the cost of other expenses such as lost earnings.

What Our Clients Say

“JMW have been a tremendous support to me and my family. They put their faith in me and my journey and I can’t begin to thank Eddie Jones and the team enough.  The success of my claim has made mine and my family’s lives so much easier, we no longer need to worry about our financial situation or stress over adapting our home.”

JMW medical negligence client Claire Rawlings, who has cauda equina syndrome

How JMW Can Help With Cauda Equina Syndrome Claims

Our specialist cauda equina solicitors have successfully settled many claims of this type and are currently helping sufferers across the country to challenge the poor care and negligence that has resulted in their long-term injuries, including those caused by cauda equina syndrome. Successful claims help those in need to cope with the financial consequences and make any essential adaptations to their daily life.

Headed up by leading cauda equina solicitor Eddie Jones, our specialists have strong links with the charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), and two of our partners are on their panel of approved solicitors. In addition, we have lawyers who are members of the Law Society's Panel of Clinical Negligence Specialists. We work nationwide and visit our clients at home whenever needed.

We have helped a range of people affected by cauda equina to claim compensation where medical negligence made the effects more severe and frequently achieve some of the highest settlements nationally.

What is Cauda Equina?

Eddie Jones, a cauda equina specialist solicitor at JMW, explains cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina is a type of serious spinal injury that can devastate lives due to the distressing long-term problems it causes, including incontinence, lingering pain, impaired mobility and sexual dysfunction. When it first strikes, urgent surgery is required to stop its effects from becoming permanent.

Lower back pain is exceedingly common and, in the vast majority of cases, it clears up on its own without treatment. However, occasionally it can be a symptom of something more serious. At the upper lumbar region of the spinal canal, the nerves of the pelvis and legs branch out from the end of the spinal cord in a 'horse's tail' effect. Anything that causes a narrowing of the spinal canal in this area - resulting in a compression of this particular bundle of nerves - is classed as cauda equina syndrome (CES).

These nerves are susceptible to injury, particularly those supplying the bladder and bowel. The most common cause of CES is a prolapsed (slipped) disc, but other causes may include:

  • Injury to the lumbar spine
  • A tumour
  • Infection (particularly abscesses)
  • Damage during surgery

For more information about CES, such as what it is, the symptoms to look out for, who it affects and where to go for help, check out our cauda equina infographic by clicking on the image below.hat it is, the symptoms to look out for, who it affects and where to go for help, check out our cauda equina infographic and click on the image below.


Common Reasons for a Claim

At JMW we have helped hundreds of cauda equina patients make a claim after receiving negligent treatment and have identified several recurring issues with the care provided. Among these common types of cauda equina medical negligence claims are:

Lack of Awareness in Hospitals

Medical staff in hospitals may not be fully aware of the signs of cauda equina syndrome, nor the need for fast action and the devastating impact it can have on the life of a patient without urgent treatment. Systematic failures, such as a lack of funding and resources, at smaller hospitals may also mean they are not fully equipped to deal with serious spinal injuries requiring urgent investigation, and there may be delays in referring patients to specialist units.

Delayed MRI or CT Scans

People affected by cauda equina sometimes face delays of days, or even weeks, before they undergo a scan. While waiting, their condition can deteriorate so significantly that it may be too late to prevent permanent nerve damage when the condition is finally identified, and lives can be devastated as a result.

Misdiagnosis by GPs

Whilst most GPs are aware of cauda equina and the need to immediately refer patients to hospitals for scans and surgery, some may let patients down by misdiagnosing the condition and failing to recommend appropriate action.

Negligent Surgery

A poor standard of surgery can mean that a patient's condition is worsened or is left untreated. This can lead to permanent damage being caused and the need for further operations, which can be traumatic for patients and also carries the risk of long-term injury.

What to Do if Your Loved One is Diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome

A diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome can be devastating, and the long-term impact of this spinal condition can mean that patients often struggle to get their lives back on track.

Like many debilitating conditions, a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome can have serious implications for the patient’s whole family. It may be difficult to know where to turn to in circumstances such as these, but cauda equina syndrome compensation may help significantly with this, which is why it is important to seek out guidance from specialist cauda equina syndrome lawyers.

JMW is a trusted partner of the cauda equina champions charity

The Cauda Equina Champions Charity started life as the Cauda Equina Syndrome Association (CESA) back in 2013. It was set up by Claire Thornber with support from JMW and strives to raise awareness of the devastating spinal condition cauda equina syndrome and to support those affected by it.

Claire identified identified that there was a need for an organisation to campaign for greater understanding of the 'red flag signs' of CES. She hopes to ensure that more sufferers receive urgent treatment to enable them to recover and avoid permanent injury.

CES can affect anyone of any age and is caused when the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spine become compressed, often by a slipped disc. The red flag signs are bowel and bladder dysfunction, altered sensation in the lower part of the body, pain in the back/legs and loss of sexual sensation. It requires surgery to relieve the pressure within 24/48 hours but if healthcare professionals do not recognise the signs, or delay treatment, the condition can become permanent.

For more information about the Cauda Equina Champions Charity, please visit http://www.ihavecaudaequina.com/.

Case Studies

Man’s Life Devastated by Appalling Cauda Equina Syndrome failures - £9.3 million

‘Chris’ had his life completely devastated after a misdiagnosis of serious neurological condition cauda equina syndrome. Chris was left with bowel and bladder dysfunction, severe permanent pain, mobility problems, sexual dysfunction and depression. Although nothing could make up for this severe impact on his life, Eddie Jones, a partner in the JMW clinical negligence team specialising in cauda equina cases, obtained £9.3 million in compensation to help Chris cover the cost of his lifelong disabilities. Read the full case study here.

Client Stories

Ginny's Story 

JMW supported Ginny through a cauda equina compensation claim after she was left unable to work, with permanent disabilities and bowel and bladder incontinence due to negligent treatment of the condition. With JMW's help, Ginny was later awarded a seven-figure compensation settlement so that she could start rebuilding her life. In this video, she tells her story.


Peter's Story 

JMW helped "Peter", 44, through a cauda equina compensation claim. Peter has seen almost every single aspect of his life change following a cauda equina syndrome diagnosis, including his ability to work, his relationship with his wife and son, and his body image and fitness. 

You can read about Peter's experiences here.

How Cauda Equina Affects Relationships: Michelle's Story


JMW spoke to psychosexual therapist Michelle Donald about the lesser-known effects the condition can have, including how it can impact a person’s intimate relationships. In this video, Michelle explains how it is possible to regain control of your life after what can be a devastating diagnosis.

FAQs About Cauda Equina Claims

Q
How will I know if I am eligible to make a cauda equina negligence claim?
A

Eligibility to make a cauda equina claim will depend on whether you are able to demonstrate that the medical professionals responsible for your care failed to deliver this to an adequate standard, and that their negligent medical treatment was directly responsible for causing your cauda equina syndrome.

Examples may include:

  • Failure to diagnose: timely diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is critical, and any delay can lead to permanent damage. If medical professionals overlooked your cauda equina symptoms or failed to perform necessary tests, this could constitute negligence.
  • Failure to treat: once diagnosed, immediate action is often required to prevent further harm. Failure to provide timely treatment could lead to a deterioration of the condition, potentially opening the door for cauda equina compensation claims.
  • Inadequate or negligent surgery: surgical intervention for cauda equina syndrome must be conducted with precision and care. Inadequate or negligent surgical procedures that lead to additional harm, or fail to address the condition appropriately, can be grounds for cauda equina syndrome claims.
  • Failure to recognise postoperative complications: postoperative care is as important as the surgery itself. Negligence in monitoring or addressing complications after surgery can exacerbate the patient's condition, making them eligible for compensation.

If any of these were a factor in your cauda equina diagnosis or the condition getting worse, you will likely be able to claim compensation. Get in touch with the cauda equina syndrome lawyers at JMW, and we will be able to advise you on whether you are eligible to make a claim.

Q
What are the symptoms of cauda equina?
A

The ‘red flags’ for CES that require urgent investigation include:

  • Altered bladder and bowel function, including changes to the flow and not feeling the urge to go, as well as incontinence 
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sciatic pain in one or both legs
  • Altered sensation in the bottom, groin and legs such as numbness or pins and needles.
  • A sudden loss of power in the legs

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome vary in intensity and sometimes evolve slowly over time. However, the above can be signs that the cauda equina nerves are being compressed, and that surgery is needed to prevent permanent nerve damage.

Q
What causes cauda equina syndrome?
A

The causes of cauda equina syndrome vary, but they typically involve conditions or incidents that lead to the narrowing or obstruction of the spinal canal, where these nerves are located. These include:

  • A slipped disc: one of the most common causes of cauda equina syndrome is a slipped disc, also known as a herniated or prolapsed disc. This occurs when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves. A slipped disc in the lumbar area is particularly concerning, as it can directly compress the cauda equina.
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal: this condition, known as spinal stenosis, can be congenital or develop with age. It causes the spaces within your spine to narrow, which can compress the nerves, including the cauda equina.
  • A tumour on the spinal cord: tumours, whether benign or malignant, can exert pressure on the cauda equina as they grow. Depending on their location and size, they can lead to cauda equina syndrome by directly compressing the nerve roots.
  • A spinal infection, haemorrhage or fracture: infections, bleeding or fractures within the spine can lead to swelling or direct damage to the nerves of the cauda equina. Each of these conditions can disrupt the normal function of the spinal nerves.
  • Complications from a severe lumbar spine injury: traumatic events, such as falls or car crashes, can cause severe injuries to the lower spine, leading to immediate or delayed compression of the cauda equina.
  • A mistake made during spinal surgery: although spinal surgery can provide relief for various back conditions, errors during the procedure can result in accidental damage to the cauda equina. This could include improperly placed surgical hardware, or an oversight that leads to nerve compression.

Understanding the causes of cauda equina syndrome is crucial for both prevention and early intervention. If you are experiencing symptoms following any of these incidents, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention.

Q
How is cauda equina treated?
A

The treatment of cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency that requires swift action to prevent irreversible nerve damage and preserve as much function as possible. Once CES is diagnosed, the primary course of action is surgical intervention, aimed at alleviating the pressure exerted on the cauda equina nerves.

The timing of surgery to prevent or treat cauda equina syndrome is critical: ideally, it should be performed within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. This narrow window is crucial because, beyond this period, the likelihood of sustaining permanent damage increases significantly. The goal of the surgery, which often involves procedures such as lumbar decompression, is to relieve the compression of the nerves. By doing so, the procedure aims to limit, or avoid altogether, any nerve damage. 

However, even with timely and successful surgery, some individuals may not regain full function. The extent of recovery largely depends on the severity of the nerve damage at the time of surgery and how quickly the condition was addressed. Factors such as the duration of symptoms before treatment and the precise cause of the compression can also influence outcomes.

Post-surgery, individuals often require extensive rehabilitation, which may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pain management strategies. Rehabilitation is tailored to address specific deficits and help the individual regain as much function as possible.

Cauda equina negligence claims can make it easier for those affected by the condition to arrange to receive the long-term treatment and rehabilitation they will need.

Q
What impact can cauda equina syndrome have on relationships?
A

One of the lesser-discussed but significant effects of cauda equina syndrome is its potential to strain relationships. When the nerves at the base of the spine suffer permanent damage, individuals may experience a loss or significant reduction in sexual function, which can lead to frustration, anxiety, and a sense of loss for both the individual and their partner. The change in sexual dynamics can challenge the couple's intimacy and emotional connection, leading to feelings of alienation.

Furthermore, CES often forces partners into new roles, particularly when one becomes the primary caregiver for the other. This shift can significantly alter the dynamics of the relationship, as partners may struggle with the balance between caregiving duties and maintaining a healthy, reciprocal partnership. The physical and emotional demands placed on the carer can lead to burnout, while the person affected by cauda equina syndrome might feel a sense of dependency.

These challenges are compounded by the emotional toll that CES can take on the affected individual, who may experience feelings of inadequacy, isolation or depression. Together, these factors can create stresses that put considerable pressure on relationships.

To learn more about these issues and the support available to those affected, take a look at our guide to how cauda equina syndrome affects relationships.

Q
How long do cauda equina compensation claims take?
A

Clinical negligence cases can take a long time, because the issues at stake are often complicated. Claims involving cauda equina syndrome are especially difficult because proof is so important, and we need to gather evidence from leading independent medical experts, who often have long waiting lists. 

However, we will ensure your case moves forward as quickly as possible and keep you updated every step of the way.

Q
What are the time limits on making a compensation claim for cauda equina syndrome?
A

Patients have three years from the date of the negligence to file a claim; if it is not resolved or legal action is not taken within that time frame, the claim is time-barred. This is called the limitation period, after which a cauda equina claim cannot be taken forward.

However, in some circumstances, this may change:

  • If the extent of a person's injury or the impact of the medical negligence does not become clear until a later date, the three-year deadline will begin from the date of knowledge instead.
  • If the patient is under 18, their parents can make a cauda equina compensation claim on their behalf at any point until they turn 18. If they wish to make a claim for themselves once they are of age, the three-year time limit begins on the date of their 18th birthday.
  • If the patient lacks the mental capacity to make their own claim, no time limit will apply.

Speak to the expert cauda equina solicitors at JMW to learn more about whether you are eligible to make a claim, and what time limits might apply in your circumstances when making cauda equina claims.

Q
How does funding work for cauda equina syndrome claims?
A

Most of our cauda equina syndrome clients can make their claim for compensation on a no win, no fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay any legal fees unless your cauda equina syndrome negligence claim is successful. 

Under this agreement, clients do not have to pay upfront legal fees or bear the costs during the progression of their case.

We will talk you through the specifics of this agreement, including any fees that are payable upon a successful outcome. It is important to us that you are fully informed and comfortable with all aspects of the funding arrangement, and that nobody is prevented from seeking justice and compensation for medical negligence due to financial concerns.

Q
How is compensation for cauda equina syndrome calculated?
A

Cauda equina compensation amounts are not standardised, and vary significantly based on the individual circumstances of each case. When it comes to cauda equina syndrome, successful claims will be valued based on several factors to determine the appropriate compensation payouts:

  • Severity of the injury: the severity of the condition and the extent of the permanent disability it has caused will play a critical role in calculating compensation amounts. More severe cases, which result in significant lifestyle changes and long-term disabilities, typically result in higher compensation for cauda equina syndrome.
  • Impact on quality of life: compensation calculations also consider the impact of cauda equina syndrome on your quality of life. This includes ongoing physical pain, psychological trauma, loss of sensation, mobility issues, and the inability to perform daily activities or enjoy hobbies.
  • Financial losses and expenses: successful claims take into account any financial losses incurred as a result of the syndrome, such as loss of earnings, medical expenses, costs of rehabilitation, and the need for home adaptations. Future financial losses are also considered, ensuring that compensation covers long-term needs.
  • Care and support needs: compensation for cauda equina syndrome also reflects the cost of necessary ongoing care and support. This can include professional care fees, as well as compensation for the time and effort of informal carers, such as family members.
  • Legal precedents and guidelines: cauda equina syndrome compensation payouts are influenced by previous legal precedents and judicial guidelines. These benchmarks provide a framework for assessing the value of different types of damages associated with medical negligence claims.

The average JMW cauda equina syndrome compensation settlement is £800,000. However, we understand that each cauda equina syndrome claim is unique.

Our experienced team is committed to ensuring that all aspects of your condition and its repercussions are thoroughly assessed. We work tirelessly to secure the maximum cauda equina compensation amounts, and will be able to provide a clearer estimate of the value of your claim when we assess your case.

Talk to Us

To speak to a specialist solicitor about your cauda equina claim, call free on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online contact form. We are here to help you secure the compensation you are entitled to; our expert clinical negligence lawyers will deal with your enquiry without any initial cost or obligation. We handle cases on a no win, no fee basis.

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