£3.2 million for client in spinal injury compensation claim

Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors successfully obtained £3.2million compensation for Mr Irving who suffered serious spinal injuries and was left disabled after falling downstairs.

Man in wheel chaiMr Irving was in his early 40s at the time of his life-changing accident. He left his flat for work via an external emergency stairway. The weather was wet and drizzly. As Mr Irving put his right foot down onto a step he slipped and fell. Mr Irving fell all the way from the top of that metal staircase down to the bottom.  Mr Irving got up and went to work, but continued to struggle with symptoms including feeling numbness and abnormal sensation in both his hands, both legs and feet.

Approximately three weeks after his fall Mr Irving was trying to lift a friend’s garage door to park his car when he suddenly collapsed. He was lying on the ground where he had lain, unable to move, for about one hour. Mr Irving was taken to A&E where an MRI scan of the spine was carried out. From there he was referred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.

Mr Irving underwent spinal surgery (laminectomy from C3 to C7). The surgery lasted 12 hours. He was discharged home after one week. After the surgery, he received physiotherapy for two months.

Unfortunately, the surgery and physiotherapy did not improve Mr Irving’s pain and functional status, he has been left tetraplegic.

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Spinal injury claim investigations

Mr Irving approached Blackwater Law medical negligence solicitors for specialist spinal injury claim advice. Blackwater Law agreed to represent Mr Irving on a no-win, no-fee basis.

To support Mr Irving’s claim for spinal injury compensation, Blackwater Law sought expert medical evidence from a leading Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and also a Spinal Surgeon who confirmed the first fall the Claimant sustained was, on balance, the principal factor which led to the neurological disability he subsequently suffered.

The evidence suggested the soft tissue swelling around the spinal cord, caused by the fall down the stairs, narrowed the spinal canal and led to a minor bruising of the spinal cord tissue; enough to enable him to function albeit with some difficulty. The medical experts also confirmed the later event – the lifting of the garage door which resulted in his immediate collapse – was the event which finally completed the damage.

The expert medical evidence gathered by Blackwater Law determined that Mr Irving would not have had his spinal cord injury on lifting the garage door had he not suffered his earlier injury as a result of a fall down the metal staircase. As such, Blackwater Law pursued the insurers of the company responsible for the metal staircase.

Liability for the spinal injury

A detailed letter of claim was sent to the Defendant who passed it on to their insurers and solicitors. The Defendant’s insurers admitted liability quickly, leaving the issues of causation and quantum to be decided.

Further medical reports and evidence were obtained by Blackwater Law from a number of experts to fully determine Mr Irving’s injury and the extent of the care he would need throughout the rest of his life. Reports and evidence gathered by Blackwater Law include:

  • Consultant Respiratory Physician
  • Consultant Neurologist
  • Consultant Ophthalmologist
  • Care and Assistance expert
  • Accommodation expert

Spinal injury claim settlement

Whilst the spinal injury claim was still ongoing Blackwater Law obtained interim compensation payments of £150,000 from the Defendant’s insurer so that Mr Irving could afford ongoing care whilst the full claim for personal injury compensation was concluded.

Throughout the claim, the Defendant’s insurers put forward complex legal and medical arguments in relation to causation. The Defendant’s insurers argued the progression of his pre-existing degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal would have left Mr Irving in the same position in any event after 18 months and that his fall simply accelerated his degeneration. This argument, if correct, meant the value of the claim was less than £100,000. However, the Defendant’s argument was rejected by Mr Irving’s team of personal injury lawyers at Blackwater Law.

One week before a settlement was reached, the Defendant’s insurers indicated that they valued the spinal injury claim in the region of £60,000, taking into account potential contributory negligence.

The parties arranged a Joint Settlement Meeting (JSM), two months before it was listed for a 5-day trial at the High Court, in order to explore the potential for settlement.

At the JSM, the Defendants made an initial offer of £ 1 million. This was rejected by Mr Irving on advice from Dominic Graham, Mr Irving’s specialist personal injury claim solicitor at Blackwater Law. Mr Graham, with the assistance of Counsel, successfully negotiated a final settlement at the JSM in the sum of £3.2million for Mr Irving.

This substantial settlement will provide Mr Irving with financial security for the rest of his life. He will be able to afford to move to appropriate premises given his disability and will also provide for ongoing professional and private care support. This settlement also importantly provides for Mr Irving’s loss of income as he is no longer able to work and earn a living.

Through a challenging period, the legal support, advice and guidance provided to me by Blackwater Law has been excellent. My solicitors always had my best interests at heart and kept fighting on my behalf until the very end of my case. The compensation Blackwater Law secured for me provides financial security and safe-guards crucial long-term care and support.

Mr Irving, Blackwater Law Client
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Actors are used in photography for case studies so as to protect the identity of clients.