Case Study: Failure to carry out a wheelchair assessment

Our client had been a paraplegic and a wheelchair user for over 45 years at the time of receiving negligent treatment from her local NHS Trust.   

A wheel on our client’s wheelchair had become detached and her husband therefore returned the wheelchair to the Trust’s Wheelchair Service.  Whilst our client’s husband was immediately provided with a replacement wheelchair to take home to our client, it was a different make and model compared to our client’s original wheelchair.  One of the key differences was that the replacement wheelchair had a brake lever which, although it could be folded over to allow the user to transfer in and out of it, even when the brake lever was folded over it still protruded above the level of the wheelchair seat.

Our client informed the Defendant Trust of this ongoing problem on several occasions but the situation was not rectified.

Several months after being provided with the replacement wheelchair our client slipped as she attempted to transfer out of the wheelchair and fell on to the exposed, folded, metal brake lever, sustaining injury as a result.

We sent a full details of our client’s claim to the Defendant Trust, alleging that our client’s injuries had been caused by the Trust’s negligence in that, amongst other things, the Trust had failed to make any adequate assessment prior to providing our client with the replacement wheelchair and, tying in with this, had failed to ensure that our client could safely transfer into and out of the wheelchair.  In addition, we alleged that the Trust had failed to provide a suitable wheelchair to our client in any event.

The Defendant Trust denied liability and County Court proceedings were therefore issued and served on our client’s behalf.  However, following the exchange of further evidence after the commencement of Court proceedings, the Trust put forward an offer of compensation to our client which, following subsequent negotiation, led to a successful conclusion of our client’s claim without the need for a trial.

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