Tag Archives: Solicitor

Surveillance and Fundamental Dishonesty

Defendants in clinical negligence cases often challenge the claims we put forward on behalf of our clients, and in particular, assert that the injury has had a more minimal effect than we have alleged.  They can do this on the basis of their medical evidence (from the expert doctors they have instructed to assist them with the case) but also by surveillance.

A Defendant is entitled to investigate whether what a Claimant says about of the effect of their injuries upon their lifestyle is genuine.  Whilst they are entitled to do this in any case, in practice, they mainly tend to do it only when a person is severely disabled and their day to day activities are limited as a result.

In our experience there are 2 main ways in which they do this:

  1. Looking at a person’s social media presence, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. A Defendant can ask a Judge to order a Claimant to provide copies of their posts, photographs etc. for them to consider.
  1. If we claim that a person is housebound, has problems walking, getting in and out of cars or needs help with shopping or doing things outside of the home, the Defendant may check to see if this is genuine. This could involve filming that person, for example, driving, attending the supermarket or at public events to see if the injuries and limitations are consistent what we have claimed.

The benefit to a Defendant if they can show a Claimant is not as badly affected as alleged is twofold.  Firstly, it will help them prove that the level of damages the Claimant is due is less.  Secondly, and more importantly, the Court has power to dismiss the entirety of a claim if it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Claimant has been “fundamentally dishonest” in relation to any aspect of the claim.

This is nothing to worry about and certainly not a reason to avoid looking into bringing a medical negligence claim if you think you may have received substandard treatment.  The vast majority of Claimants are honest and accurately report their symptoms and the effect any injury has had on them.  However, it is something to bear in mind if you are bringing a claim, especially if you are thinking of trying things you previously thought impossible.  In this situation, we would ask that you keep us informed so we can make sure that the Defendant and our experts are aware of it. If you find these changes last for just a short period of time, it will prevent a situation where the Defendant believes they have evidence that you are more able than we have previously stated.

If you would like to discuss this further or think you may have a claim for medical negligence and would like some advice from one of our solicitors, please contact us on 01642 231110.

Kathryn Watson – April 2018

Wrongful removal of a testicle

Kevin was in his mid fifties, single, and had a small benign cyst on his left testicle.  He had put up with it for a number of years.  Eventually he was advised that he should have it (the cyst!) removed.  Tests had confirmed that there was no cancer.  He received assurances that this was all that was to happen.  He went to hospital for what he expected to be a normal procedure for removal of this benign cyst.

After the operation the Consultant was doing his ward round with the trainees.  He announced to his colleague and Kevin that everything had gone to plan but to be safe he had removed the testicle, not just the cyst.  At first Kevin thought he hadn’t heard him correctly.  To say Kevin was angry was an understatement – he was absolutely furious.  Loss of his testicle was something he had wanted to avoid, and assured would not happen.

He came to see us about a claim.  The claim was pursued on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.  Within 8 months and shortly after starting court proceedings we secured a settlement of £15,000 plus payment of legal costs.  In monetary terms this the going rate for a loss of a testicle case as there were no complications or future concerns.

Hilton Armstrong – June 2017

Failure to consider x-ray leads to unnecessary death

Shirley Wise was admitted to hospital in the early hours of a Tuesday morning with diarrhoea and vomiting.  Her treating doctors thought she was suffering from gastroenteritis but requested that an abdominal x-ray be performed to rule out anything more sinister.  The x-ray was performed at around 9:30 that morning but no doctor looked at it.  Unfortunately, because nobody looked at it, it was missed that Mrs Wise was not suffering from gastroenteritis but from gallstone ileus, a condition where a gallstone had eroded through her gall bladder into her bowel.  Had this been picked up, she would have had emergency surgery to remove the gallstone.  Instead, she deteriorated and died in the early hours of Thursday morning.

A claim was brought by her daughter, Tracey Georgeson.  The hospital admitted fault very quickly and settlement was reached soon after.  This included compensation for Mrs Wise’s unnecessary suffering before her death as well as for funeral expenses and other miscellaneous items.

Ms Georgeson has been very keen to make the public aware of what can happen when things go wrong in hospital.  We put her in touch with a journalist from the Evening Gazette who ran a story about this incident last September, which they then updated recently (please click on the links below if you would like to read the articles).

http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/daughters-heartache-over-alleged-hospital-11858518

http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/grans-hospital-death-could-been-12516562

If you suspect you or a family member has been injured as a result of medical negligence and would like some advice on whether there is a claim to pursue, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01642 231110 and one of our solicitors will be happy to talk to you about your complaint.

Kathryn Watson – February 2017

Care Home Neglect

Mr G suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. Although his family were initially able to manage him at home, in the middle of 2013 they made a difficult decision to move him into a care home on the basis that the Managers of the home were able to assure his family that as specialists in dementia care the home would be able to cope with his needs including occasionally challenging behaviour.

On admission Mr G was clean and well-presented but over the first few weeks and months he appeared progressively more and more dirty and dishevelled and his family began to have concerns regarding the care he was receiving, and particularly whether Mr G was being restrained and whether appropriate force was being used when this was necessary.

Despite previously having had little difficulty walking Mr G soon appeared to be struggling to walk. After speaking with the care home staff it became apparent that the care home’s chiropodist was refusing to treat him and the care home had failed to arrange an alternative. When the family took Mr G to see his old chiropodist it was noted that he was wearing socks 4 sizes too small, and they must not have been removed for some time as his skin appeared to have begun to grow through them.

In late 2013 Mr G’s family arranged for him to move to a different care home. By this time he was also doubly incontinent and had sores on his buttocks.  Thankfully the new placement provided the care and support that Mr G  needed and he went on to make a good recovery to the relief of his family.

We brought a claim against the operator of Mr G’s initial care home for failing to adequately care for Mr G. The care home quickly admitted that it had not been a suitable placement for Mr G in the first place, that the staff were not adequately trained and that the level of care provided  had been substandard. After negotiations Mr G’s claim was settled for £5,500, £2,000 of which was paid to his family to be used to meet his immediate needs. The remaining £2,500 was paid into Court to be used for Mr G’s benefit in the future.

Dan Richardson – June 2016

Mother unable to have more children because of hospital’s mistake!

Mrs M was pregnant and as a result of a previous miscarriage, was monitored regularly throughout her pregnancy. She attended hospital at 29 weeks’ gestation for a routine scan. This showed that her baby’s movements were reduced which was of concern. She was given steroids and was advised to return for review the following day. Unfortunately, it was overlooked that she had raised blood pressure and a significant amount of protein in her urine (proteinuria), both of which are indicative of pre-eclampsia which is a dangerous condition for both mother and baby.

She returned to hospital the next day when it was noted that her baby’s movements had improved. Again, her raised blood pressure and proteinuria were overlooked. She was sent home and the plan was to review her in a few days’ time.

The following evening, Mrs M began to feel unwell and struggled to breathe. She was taken to hospital where she underwent an emergency caesarean section when it was discovered she had a large placental abruption. This is where the placenta comes away from the uterus before the baby is born resulting in internal bleeding. It can also cause harm to the baby if it is deprived of oxygen and nutrients as a result. Fortunately, Mrs M’s son was healthy but she had a more stormy time. She required a further operation shortly after the caesarean section because of ongoing bleeding, admission to intensive care, she developed abnormal renal function and pulmonary oedema and needed a blood transfusion. She was discharged home after 9 days and then advised at a follow up appointment that she should not risk a future pregnancy because of the damage it could do to her kidneys. This was upsetting to both her and her husband as although they have 2 sons, they would have liked a third child. However, they followed the advice given and her husband underwent a vasectomy.

The hospital admitted early on that it was substandard that they failed to diagnose the pre-eclampsia when she first attended hospital. They also accepted that had they acted upon the raised blood pressure and proteinuria, she would have been admitted that day and had the caesarean section before the placenta came away from the lining of the uterus. The claim settled shortly after court proceedings were issued for the sum of £30,000.

Kathryn Watson – November 2014

Don’t Lose Your Benefits

Did you know that if you are in receipt of means tested benefits and you receive an award for compensation then those benefits can be stopped?

To be eligible for certain means tested benefits the Department of Work & Pensions [DWP] will look at how much capital (e.g. savings) you have. A compensation payment will therefore affect your level of capital and if you have over £6,000 those benefits payments may be reduced. If you have over £16,000 those benefits will be stopped completely.

If you fail to tell the DWP about the compensation award then that is Benefit Fraud.

If you are injured, through no fault of your own, and receive compensation of say £20,000 then if you were in receipt of means tested benefits you would no longer be able to claim them. This does not sound fair does it?

Well, fortunately, there is a way to protect your means tested benefits entitlement. By setting up what is called a ‘Personal Injury Trust’. This separates your compensation award from your savings and it is therefore not included in calculating your means tested benefits entitlement. By setting up this Trust you can continue to receive the same means tested benefits that you were before.

So, make sure to tell us if you receive any benefits so that we can put you in touch with people who specialise in setting up Personal Injury Trusts.

Andrew Walker – November 2014

Why choose a specialist?

If you are looking for a Solicitor on Teesside to handle your medical claim, then you will probably do the following:

i.            Search the internet.

ii.            See an advert in your local paper or on TV.

iii.            Look through the Yellow Pages.

iv.            Listen to a friend, relation or colleague.

v.            Contact your family Solicitor.

Nowadays, lots of Solicitors are doing Clinical Negligence work but that does not mean they are specialists.  They are turning their hand to it because they are short of work.  Their adverts are very good and they will promise you the world: e.g. “we expect to settle your claim within 6 to 12 months” or “we have successfully recovered compensation for thousands of injured people” and so on.  This is all rubbish.

So, why should you go to a specialist like us?  There is only one reason:

  • Would you be happy if a Neurosurgeon was going to remove your appendix, or if an Orthopaedic Surgeon operated on your brain?  Both are very competent in their own field but you would be a fool to trust them if they strayed out of their area of expertise – so why do it with your medical claim?

We only deal with medical claims for injured people on Teesside and in the North East.  We have years of experience which enable us to get you the best result for you, both in terms of compensation and answers.

We have national recognition and are listed in Chambers and The Legal 500:

http://www.chambersandpartners.com/16346/140/Editorial/1/1

http://www.legal500.com/c/north/insurance/clinical-negligence-claimant

Ring us today and we will tell you if you have a claim worth pursuing.  You will speak to an experienced Solicitor who will give you straightforward answers.

Hilton Armstrong

The End of an Era and the Start of a New One….

From 01/10/2013 there will be some significant changes to our firm, although please rest reassured that this will cause no disruption to our existing clients, to any new clients or the way in which claims are managed.  There are 4 main changes:

  1. Firstly, our current trainee Andrew Walker will qualify as a solicitor and has accepted a position with our firm where I am sure he will become a valued asset.
  2. Secondly, as many of you will already be aware Peter Foulkes, one of the firm’s founding partners is leaving after 39 years practising law. We wish him a long and happy retirement.
  3. Thirdly, the firm will become a Limited Liability Partnership [LLP] named Armstrong Foulkes LLP. This will have no effect on any on-going claims and it is simply a status change.  Many professional organisations; lawyers, dentists and stock brokers, have taken this step.
  4. Finally, due to Peter Foulkes’ retirement there will be a change in the way the firm is organised and both my colleague Ashleigh Holt and I will become Partners in the new Armstrong Foulkes LLP along with the remaining founding partner, Hilton Armstrong. As Ashleigh and I have both trained at this firm we have always been very committed to it and are now proud to have the opportunity to play a part in its future growth and progression.

Should any of our clients, or prospective clients, have any questions or concerns about any of these changes please do not hesitate to contact myself or any other solicitor in the firm who would be happy to discuss matters with you.

This year marks 21 years in business and as we celebrate the firm “coming of age” we hope that you share in our excitement for the future of Armstrong Foulkes LLP.

Joanne Dennison