Victim of Extremely Rare Neurological Disorder Receives £425,000 Payout


Clinical negligence claims involving extremely rare medical conditions can present a particular challenge. However, that did not prevent a man who fell prey to a neurological disease which only recently became known to medical science from obtaining six-figure compensation.

The man was in his late 40s when he began to suffer a range of unusual symptoms, including sleep disorder, difficulty swallowing and behavioural difficulties. He was referred to a neurologist who found no underlying neurological condition. However, his symptoms continued to deteriorate and, about two years later, hospital tests indicated that he was suffering a form of autoimmune encephalitis.

Lawyers who launched a claim for damages on the man’s behalf did not allege that the neurologist was negligent in failing to diagnose the condition, the first cases of which were only reported in 2014. They did, however, assert that he should have referred the man for further expert assessment.

Had that happened, it was claimed that he would have avoided a life-threatening episode and been diagnosed and treated nine months earlier than he was, resulting in a better outcome. Despite having made a good recovery, he remains subject to cognitive and respiratory difficulties together with behavioural and psychological problems.

The NHS trust that bore responsibility for the man’s care denied that the neurologist was in any way at fault. It also hotly disputed the value of his claim. However, following negotiations with his legal team, it agreed – without making any admission of liability – to a £425,000 lump-sum settlement of his claim. The High Court had no hesitation in approving the sensible compromise, which did away with the need for a stressful 10-day trial that could have gone either way.

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