For all your legal challenges...

We're here to help


'Ticking Time-Bomb' Aneurysm Victim Wins Right to Substantial Damages

Clinical negligence often begins with a failure in diagnosis and a lost opportunity for effective treatment. That was certainly so in the case of a woman who suffered a catastrophic stroke after radiologists at a private clinic failed to pick up on an aneurysm that was described as a ticking time-bomb.

The woman was in her early 50s when she reported suffering severe migraines and her GP referred her to hospital for investigation. MRI scanning was performed and the results were sent to the clinic for review. The aneurysm went undiagnosed and, about 10 months later, she suffered a stroke which caused significant brain damage and one-sided paralysis. Her life expectancy is reduced and she will remain highly dependent on others for her day-to-day care.

After legal action was taken on her behalf, the clinic admitted breach of duty. However, an issue remained as to whether she would have chosen to undergo a medical procedure known as coiling had the aneurysm been diagnosed. Although the procedure would, if successful, have greatly reduced or extinguished the threat of stroke and other complications, it was not without risks.

She lacks capacity to make important decisions for herself and was unable to give evidence. However, members of her family with knowledge of her personality said that she would have undergone the procedure. The alternative would have been to live with the aneurysm in the knowledge that it could burst at any moment.

Following negotiations, the clinic agreed to pay 90 per cent of the full value of her claim. It apologised to her and her husband, who had devoted himself to her care, and further agreed to make an interim damages payment of £300,000. If not agreed, the full amount of her award would be assessed at a further hearing. The High Court noted that her husband had received expert and highly skilled legal advice, and had no hesitation in approving the liability settlement.