Occasionally, mistakes are made - and when they are, patients have a right to seek compensation.
The client suffered a severe injury whilst at the hairdressers. “Beauty parlour stroke syndrome” is a recognised, but thankfully rare, condition believed to be caused by an injury to the artery in the neck which can become stretched, usually over a basin whilst having a shampoo at a hairdressers. This can then cause damage to the nerves in that part of the spine due to lack of blood supply and compression.
In this instance, the client already had restricted movement of her neck. This was well known to her hairdresser who she had been going to for some years.
The client felt pain at the time of the hair wash and felt faint immediately afterwards but did not realise the severity of the problem. Over the next few days, she developed more pain and stiffness in her neck and was eventually taken to hospital where she was diagnosed as having a haemorrhage into the spinal cord. As a result of this, she was left with long term problems including reduced mobility. Although she did not report her discomfort before she left the salon, she did subsequently tell them once she became unwell.
The initial action taken by the firm was to obtain medical evidence on the cause of the injury, evidence in relation to the syndrome itself and what care should be taken by hairdressing professionals. This was not a straightforward task due to the nature of the injury, its cause and the severity of the client’s injuries.
A Letter of Claim was written to the owner of the Salon and they passed this to their insurers. The insurers replied to the Letter of Claim denying that the Salon had been negligent and that they could not be held responsible for the unfortunate turn of events. But at the same time, they disclosed evidence from the Salon Staff which confirmed that the client’s hairdresser was aware of the client’s neck condition and the need to take extra care with her.
We, therefore, took steps to issue the proceedings in the County Court. The Court gave directions for the matter to progress to a hearing. Because of the client’s circumstances, it was necessary to obtain reports not only on the client’s medical condition, but also on the costs of care and assistance she required in caring for herself and her young children. As a result of the client’s difficulties, the costs of future care and assistance were substantial. We also included a claim for loss of earnings as her ability to continue to work was severely restricted.
Both the client and the Defendant’s insurers agreed to try and settle the matter without the need for a Trial. They agreed to have a joint settlement meeting where the parties got together in a neutral location with their legal advisers to discuss the facts and to try and reach an agreement on the settlement. Sometimes these meetings help each side understand the other side’s case in a setting which is less adversarial than a Court setting. Even if the parties can’t reach an agreement it often helps to narrow the issues that are in dispute so that when the case comes before a Judge there are fewer issues to be argued about. On the first occasion, it was not possible to settle the case as the amount being offered by the Defendant was not enough. We continued to prepare the case for a Trial. The Defendant made an increased offer which was still not enough. We suggested that there should be another joint settlement meeting and the Defendants agreed.
On this occasion, the parties were able to reach an agreement on the level of compensation to be paid to the client although the Defendant did not about liability. The Claimant received almost £1m in compensation plus the payment of her legal costs.
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