Gerard Martin QC and Chris Gutteridge secure £3m settlement for above-knee amputee

July 25, 2018

The claimant, who suffers with complex regional pain syndrome (“CRPS”) in his stump will now undergo pioneering osseointegration surgery.

The claimant developed CRPS in his right foot and lower leg after fracturing his ankle when he fell from a lorry in the course of his employment with the defendant. His pain was resistant to medication, therapies and even spinal cord stimulation. Eventually he underwent a trans-femoral amputation, but CRPS affected the residuum of his right leg, making it impossible for him to wear a ‘socket-based’ prosthesis and confining him to a wheelchair.

The claimant instructed Paul Darlington of Smith Jones Solicitors in Burnley to represent him in his claim for compensation against his employer. The experts retained to report for the claimant in the court proceedings agreed that his only chance of achieving functional prosthetic use would be to undergo osseointegration surgery: where a titanium anchor will be attached to his femur. After the surgery, the claimant’s stump will heal around the anchor, leaving a connector exposed to which a prosthetic limb can be attached. When the claimant walks on his bone-anchored prosthetic, the forces created will be transmitted directly to his skeleton rather than via his skin – thus avoiding loading of the painful soft tissues at the end of his stump.

The claimant’s legal team understand that his will be only the second case in the UK of an amputee with CPRS in the stump undergoing osseointegration – and so great care was taken to ensure the  medico-legal and treating experts (including surgeon Norbert Kang, a leader in the field of osseointegration) endorsed all aspects of the proposed intervention and agreed upon a strategy for optimising the claimant’s chance of success.

The £3 million settlement, reached after a roundtable meeting with the defendant’s representatives, will be used to fund the claimant’s surgery and provide state-of-the-art prosthetics for the rest of his life. The claimant has also purchased single level accommodation which will be adapted for his needs.

Chris Gutteridge said about the settlement:

“This has been a very challenging case because of the difficulties caused by the claimant’s CRPS. He is determined to walk again with a prosthetic and we, the legal team, have consulted with experts in prosthetics, lower limb surgery, pain management and amputee rehabilitation to find a solution that will work for him. We have looked in detail about the benefits and risks of osseointegration and the experts are confident that this is the only way to get the claimant out of his wheelchair and back walking. The claimant knows it is a long process but he is committed to it. His resolve, after everything he has already been though, is something which has impressed us all. We were very pleased to secure a settlement which will not only fund the surgery, but top quality prosthetics, therapies and accommodation thereafter.”

Gerard Martin QC and Chris Gutteridge are both members of the personal injury team at Exchange Chambers.