Types of nerves
Our nerves are essential for sensation, feeling and healthy function of the body. As super-thin messengers, they run from head to toe. The sensory nerves transmit sensation, such as pain and touch, while the motor nerves control muscle movement. Autonomic nerves regulate bodily functions, including blood pressure and the bladder.
Definition of nerve damage
Nerve damage affects the relaying of messages from the body via the spinal cord to the brain and may involve loss of sensory perception, unusual tingling and muscle weakness.
Causes of nerve injury
Nerve injury can occur in accidents or during medical procedures and surgical operations. Occasionally, complex and delicate procedures do sometimes go wrong. The effects and consequent impact can vary considerably, depending on the part of the body affected.
Significantly, underlying medical conditions such as neuropathy can also cause nerve damage. According to information* published by the National Health Service, approximately a tenth of UK residents aged fifty-five or older suffer peripheral neuropathy to a greater or lesser degree.
Symptoms of nerve damage
Depending on the case, nerve injury patients might experience:
- Shooting pains or burning sensations inside the limbs.
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities.
- Loss of feeling.
- Weak muscles.
- Loss of sight.
How do nerve damage injuries happen?
Within the body, the central nervous system runs from head to the toe. Some of the most common causes of damage include:
- Compression, i.e. pressure injuries.
- Focal contusion, i.e. physical blows that not only damage the cells in affected areas but also damage nerves.
- Stretch and traction injuries, which can pull and tug nerves beyond their breaking point.
- Laceration, i.e. cut(s), when deep enough to sever and damage nerves, depending on the part of the body.
- Injection injury – in a healthcare environment, the misuse of a needle or sharp object.
- Electrical injury due to current passing through an area of the body.
Checklist: accidents that cause nerve injury
If you are involved in an accident that has caused nerve damage, your first action should be to prevent further injury and seek immediate medical attention. Compensation claims for injuries in workplaces or public areas rely on demonstrating that the accident occurred due to negligence.
After calling for medical attention, we suggest gathering evidence at the scene of the accident. If possible, photographs can play a significant role in apportioning blame or demonstrating negligence, such as a lack of warning signs and adequate safeguards in a public area.
Next, gather evidence of the injury. Although nerve damage is not usually a visible condition, we recommend documenting cuts, bruises and fractures. Equally, retaining copies of medical reports is essential for your possible claim. Whenever possible, keep doctor’s notes, x-ray reports, copies of prescriptions and other documentation related to the incident.
Nerve damage in road traffic accidents
Road traffic accidents are the most common form of injury in the UK and, consequently, a major cause of nerve damage. Any moderate to serious injury is likely to damage nerves within the body.
Where an injury does cause nerve damage, the superficial wound itself may heal long before the damaged nerves. Typically, a deep cut or a fracture will heal within weeks, but the nerves could take months or years to recover – if at all. If you have been involved in a road accident resulting in injuries to nerves, we can help you claim compensation.
Nerve damage through an accident at work
Workplace and industrial accidents are the second most frequent cause of nerve injuries in the UK, typically involving slips, trips or falls. More serious incidents, such as getting a hand or arm stuck in heavy machinery, can result in serious and permanent damage.
An employer is liable to pay compensation for nerve damage if they have failed to follow health and safety regulations, thus causing the injury. Even if the company can prove it followed health and safety regulations, it might still be possible to claim compensation for nerve damage.
Nerve damage caused by medical negligence
Accidents in public places or at work are not the only way in which you can suffer nerve damage as the result of another person’s negligence. Although the incidence rate is usually low, nerve damage may occur through medical negligence in certain cases through:
- Poorly-administered injections of anaesthesia or extraction of blood samples via needles.
- Hernia surgery, which risks damage to the inguinal and genitofemoral nerves.
- Knee replacement surgery, with the accompanying risk of severed nerves.
- Improper use of equipment, such as surgical retractors and tourniquets.
- Failure to diagnose certain degenerative conditions related to the nervous system.
Is it possible to sue the NHS for permanent nerve damage?
Yes, if a case exists. Firstly, it is necessary to check entitlement to compensation. For a claim to succeed, it is necessary to prove that the damage arose because of negligence or other avoidable action(s). Sometimes, a limited amount of temporary sensory loss occurs routinely with surgical procedures; there is a standard recovery period. Expertise is necessary, therefore, to determine whether the routine risks were acceptable or if the damage arose because of medical negligence. If surgery goes wrong, you could be able to claim.
Nerve damage compensation claims have to demonstrate preventable action that harmed the patient concerned, as distinct from any previously existing illness(es). Usually, a second opinion or expert witness is necessary to confirm that the surgical procedure or hospital treatment did not meet the standards required of a competent and skilled healthcare practitioner.
Claiming for nerve damage injuries
To assess compensation entitlement, you should select a specialist solicitor who has experience in medical claims. Making contact relatively early in the process allows time to check the viability of a claim and to simplify the process as much as possible.
With us working for you while you recover, we will continue fact-finding and gathering information to draft your claim. Depending on the location and circumstances, we might attempt to gain access to CCTV footage or other evidence. As well as arranging a medical evaluation appointment with a doctor near your home, we file papers with the respective authorities.
Much depends on the injury and the effects it has on the injured person’s day-to-day life and career. We base claims on the following areas:
- General damages, often intangible and awarded to compensate for the pain and suffering that the injury or damage has caused.
- Medical expenses, including equipment, and private health care as necessitated by the nerve damage or injury.
- Care. If the patient needs to hire a carer or nurse, we usually include this in the claim.
- Travel expenses – for example, public transport or taxis, if justifiable, to visit a doctor. Usually, there is entitlement to reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses including travelling for treatment of the injury.
- Loss of earnings. If the nerve damage has meant time off work or is likely to affect future earnings, we can calculate the potential losses to factor into the settlement.
Can I sue the NHS for permanent nerve damage
The first thing we need to do is to find out if you have a valid claim. We know this can be stressful but we must prove that your nerve damage was caused by negligence / avoidable action. Some nerve damage can be caused by routine procedures and have accepted risks so it is important that one of our experts clarifies this aspect with you and that the negligence has caused you harm. Nerve damage can be slightly more complex than other types of claim due to side effects from surgery and expected recovery periods.
There is also a time limit on all negligence claims, action must have been started within 3 years of treatment or care and/or when you first discovered that something had gone wrong.
Time limits for negligence claims
If there appears to be an entitlement for compensation, it is essential to initiate a claim within three years from the treatment – or, if later, from when the affected person first discovered the damage.
Compensation advice and support
If you have suffered nerve damage and would like to discuss the possibility of no-win no-fee compensation, please contact us today for free, confidential and professional advice.
–Additional source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/