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What is cauda equina syndrome?

‘Cauda equina' is the anatomical Latin name for the bundled fan of nerve roots that branch off the base of the spinal cord and look like a ‘horse's tail' - hence the name.

While millions of us suffer lower back pain, cauda equina syndrome is a rare and extreme condition that can lead to lasting paralysis in the lower body with incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

It's caused by damage or compression to this important junction box of nerves that sends and receives movement messages to and from your feet, legs and pelvic area. When diagnosed, cauda equina syndrome is classed as a medical emergency that requires rapid surgery.

Why make a no win no fee claim for cauda equina compensation?

Anyone suffering a serious back injury knows how painful and life-limiting it can be. They can stop you from being able to do the simplest of tasks and put your normal life on hold.

In the worst cases, the effects of a serious back injury or condition like cauda equina can be permanent. Even when recovering from the syndrome, it can take a long time to literally get back on your feet and your life back to normal.

Such spinal damage can often take a heavy toll on your ability to work and earn and other expenses can mount up too. It can also put you and your loved ones under a lot of pressure.

If your case of cauda equina was caused by somebody else, either by accident or negligence, then we may be able to help you make a no win no fee cauda equina compensation claim. We work with a national panel of specialist cauda equina syndrome lawyers who'll support you throughout your claim if you're eligible.

Get in touch with us for free, impartial advice on , or fill in our secure online form to arrange a call back from us at a time that suits you. We'll never rush or pressure you into making a claim - we're here to help you understand whether you could make a cauda equina compensation claim and to answer the many questions you'll likely have.

What nerves make up the cauda equina?

The cauda equina is at the base of your spine. It contains and protects the second to the fifth lumbar nerve pairs, the first to the fifth sacral nerve pairs and the coccygeal nerve. It's a critically important area for normal lower body movement and organ function.

What are the common causes of cauda equina syndrome?

There are many causes of this difficult condition, including accident injury and medical negligence:

  • A badly ruptured disc in the lumbar area of the spine caused by a sudden impact or penetrative injury. This is the most common situation and can happen in a road traffic accident, accident at work or after a serious fall. It can also be triggered after being stabbed or shot in a serious criminal assault.
  • Pressure on the cauda equina caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis), a lesion or tumour.
  • Infection, inflammation or an internal haemorrhage in the lumbar area of your back.
  • Birth defect, such as with abnormal connections between blood vessels.

Cauda equina syndrome can cause serious lasting problems if misdiagnosed or if treatment for it is avoidably delayed. It can also be caused if the area is damaged in a sub-standard surgical procedure carried out by a medical professional.

What are the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

It can be hard to diagnose as it mimics other conditions and there are various symptoms that may come on slowly or quickly. They include:

  • Severe lower back pain.
  • Numbness or weakness in either or both legs that makes normal tasks difficult - like getting out of a chair for instance.
  • Feeling loss or abnormal sensations anywhere below the waist.
  • Problems with incontinence or unexpected sexual dysfunction.

However, these are all serious ‘red flag' symptoms. If you're experiencing some or all of them, see your GP immediately. 

If you've suffered a lower spinal injury caused in an accident that was someone else's fault or believe you may have received negligent spinal care, then contact us for confidential advice on as you may be eligible to make a claim for cauda equina compensation.

What are the circumstances where I could make a cauda equina compensation claim?

Serious lower back injuries can occur in any accident situation that involves physical injury. For instance, in a road traffic accident, as a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, pedestrian or cyclist

The impact forces in a vehicle accident can be huge and cause serious spinal injury. 

An average weight driver (around 70kg) wearing a seatbelt and coming to a sudden stop at 30mph in 30 milliseconds will be subject to deceleration forces of over 45 times the force of gravity - or ‘G'. That's like being hit with a pressure of more than 3,200kg - over three tons - in a split second.

And for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, it's no wonder that back injuries can be very serious and potentially life-changing.

Severe spinal injuries can happen at work, in a bad slip or fall in a public place or even while playing sport

They can also be caused by medical negligence. This is where by act or omission in diagnosis, treatment or surgery, a medical practitioner makes a judgement error that damages your cauda equina or negligently makes an existing problem with it even worse. 

This type of damage isn't just limited to adults, it can also be caused by birth injury errors that could potentially be life-changing for your child.

It doesn't matter how your cauda equina syndrome was caused. If it was down to someone else's negligence, then contact us on . We may be able to help you make a cauda equina syndrome compensation claim.

Did you know?

According to British Medical Journal research, between 15 to 31 patients are diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome each year. It's a rare condition that can be devastating to the lives of those suffering it

Source: BMJ, 2018

We know it can be difficult to cope with the seen and unseen effects of an injury that wasn't your fault, so that's why our Legal Support Advisors (LSAs) are fully trained to help you through an emotional and important part of the recovery process.

How we approach sensitive calls

We know it can be difficult to cope with the seen and unseen effects of an injury that wasn't your fault, so that's why our Legal Support Advisors (LSAs) are fully trained to help you through an emotional and important part of the recovery process.

How is cauda equina syndrome treated?

Once the correct diagnosis is made, urgent surgery within 48 hours is usually recommended to try and reverse the symptoms of neural dysfunction, followed by drug therapy. Left untreated, cauda equina syndrome can result in permanent paralysis and incontinence.

Although it may take time for bladder function to catch up with improvements in movement, recovery usually continues to improve over time - but depending on severity, it may take years to recover, with all the life and work-limiting challenges that accompany it.

Making a cauda equina compensation claim can help you cover those extra costs and start getting your life back to how it was.

No two cases are the same as accident or medical negligence circumstances and injuries severities vary widely. That means cauda equina compensation amounts vary too. and so back injury compensation payouts vary. We look at each case on an individual basis so we can decide the best way to help you and who's the most suitable solicitor for your claim.

Because of this, we can't tell you exactly how much compensation you might receive, but you can get an estimate by using our compensation calculator.

Our solicitors do their utmost to make sure you get the full cauda equina compensation amounts you're owed. Your solicitor will take everything caused by your injury into consideration when putting together your cauda equina compensation claim.

For example, they'll investigate:

  • Medical treatment costs and any conversions you need at home or to drive.
  • Any care you've received, even if given for free by a family member.
  • Lost earnings due to time off work as well as the impact on your future earning ability.
  • The effect your injury has had on your social life and hobbies.
  • The wider effects on your family.

No cauda equina syndrome malpractice compensation amounts can take away what you've been through. But it really can help you get as much of your independence back as possible.

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How do I start a cauda equina compensation claim?

If you're unsure whether you could make a cauda equina compensation for injury to your spine, contact us free on . Our legally trained advisors will listen carefully to your experience and will let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim.

We're here to help you and offer advice. We'll never rush or pressure you into claiming. If you do decide you'd like to proceed, we can connect you with one of our specialist cauda equina syndrome lawyers. We take the strain out of finding the right no win no fee solicitor so that you can focus on your recovery.

Your cauda equina negligence solicitor will be your point of contact throughout the claim. We carefully monitor the standards of their service so you can rest assured you'll receive the best possible legal care. They'll keep you up to date and will be on hand to answer any questions you might have.

What are the time limits for making a cauda equina compensation claim?

To qualify for making any no win no fee cauda equina compensation claim, you must have suffered the injury or medical negligence incident within the last three years. The accident must also have been all or partially the fault of someone else.

  • If you were 18 or over when the injury occurred, you have three years to make a personal injury claim from the accident injury date or diagnosis if it's for cauda equina malpractice settlements
  • If you were under 18 at the time and no claim was made, you have three years from your 18th until your 21st birthday to claim.

There are exceptions to the three-year limitation, for instance if the victim has experienced such severe injury they can't make the claim themselves or if they lack the psychological capability to do so.

If you've got any questions about making a no win no fee compensation claim, contact us for free and impartial advice on . We'll listen to what you've been through and let you know if we think you could make a no win no fee claim

Alternatively, try our eligibility verifier which asks some simple questions about your experience and will let you know whether we think you may be able to make a cauda equina compensation claim.

What are the average cauda equina compensation amounts?

The Judicial College is the government department in the Ministry of Justice responsible for setting the guideline general damages amounts for all personal injury types. Included are cauda equina compensation amounts

General damages cover pain, suffering and loss of everyday amenity. Cauda equina syndrome lawyers also calculate special damages. These are the financial losses you've experienced as a direct result of your injury. They are awarded in addition to general damages. 

Because spinal claims - like cauda equina malpractice settlements - usually involve serious and long term effects, compensation for general damages can be significant. Your cauda equina lawyer will value your claim in detail and explain everything to you.

For instance, general damages for severe lower back injury with spinal cord damage range from £85,470 to £151,070. In medical negligence cauda equina syndrome claims involving lower body paralysis (paraplegia), general damages alone range from £205,580 to £266,740 - or more.

It's very likely that you'll also have suffered significant financial losses so cauda equina claims will also include these if your claim succeeds.

Recovering from a serious injury can be expensive, and we know how important it is for you to get support to cover the costs.

We don't think it's fair for you to be left under financial pressure, especially after you've suffered a difficult injury that wasn't your fault. 

That's why we have measures in place to protect you from no win no fee hidden costs and charges, so there won't be any surprises along the way.

Speak to us for free, impartial advice on or fill in our secure online form. We'll be happy to answer your cauda equina claims questions and can help you understand whether you could make a claim.

If you'd like to find out more about all the different legal stages of a compensation claim, please visit our claims process page.

How do people pay for cauda equina claims?

You do this with a no win no fee arrangement, also known as a conditional fee agreement. It's the contract between you and your no win no fee specialist back injury compensation solicitor.

There are no upfront costs or hidden charges but if you win the claim, you'll be asked to pay any costs and expenses, not paid for by the other side, out of your compensation. This is likely to happen in most cases, as the other side is only required to make a contribution to your legal fees.

These costs will only be deducted when your compensation is paid, and may include: 

  • A ‘success fee' which compensates the solicitor for the risk they take, as if your claim is unsuccessful they won't be paid at all.
  • Any other legal costs or expenses not recovered from the other side, such as the costs of any legal expense insurance.

When you start your claim, your solicitor will take out legal insurance protection on your behalf. This is sometimes called ATE (After The Event) insurance. If your claim is unsuccessful, then the other party's costs will be paid out of this insurance. 

If you don't receive any compensation, then you won't have to pay for the ATE insurance. If your claim is successful, then it'll be paid out of your compensation as part of the fees.

Your solicitor will discuss this with you at the start, so you'll know what to expect when your claim settles. If you don't win your no win no fee claim, you pay nothing to anyone.

When you're looking for a personal injury company to help you make your claim, you might be worried about the credibility of the solicitors you'll work with. With us, you're in safe and trusted hands.

We work with a national panel of personal injury solicitors who we carefully choose based on their skills. This ensures you get the legal representation you need for the best chance of making a successful cauda equina claim.

As well as working on a no win no fee basis, our solicitors will also protect you from upfront costs and no win no fee hidden charges. Our no win no fee charges guarantee means you won't have to pay anything before starting your claim. 

To find out whether you could claim, or for advice and answers to your questions, contact us free on to talk to one of our friendly, legally-trained advisors in total confidence.

Frequently asked questions...

Proving liability in a claim is about establishing blame in four key areas. 

Duty: did the party you hold responsible for your injury owe you a legal duty of care?  

Breach: did they breach that duty by acting (or failing to act) in a particular way?  

Causation: did their actions (or absence of them) cause your injuries? 

Damages: were you injured by their actions or inactions? 

Yes, you can. If they’re under 18, you’ll need to make the claim on their behalf. This is called being a litigation friend as is usually done by a parent, guardian or other responsible adult. You can also act as a litigation friend if your loved one has been so seriously injured that they are unable to make the claim themselves.

Asbestos-related illnesses are physically and psychologically damaging. If you’re too poorly to make a no win no fee asbestos compensation claim, then a loved one or another you trust can do it for you. This person is called a Litigation Friend. They make the decisions for you and work with your solicitor to represent your interests fully. In the tragic event of a victim passing away before the claim is settled, a Litigation Friend can complete the claim on their behalf.

No. National Accident Helpline is a brand that belongs to the personal injury legal practice National Accident Law. We’re regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the independent professional ethics body that licenses all solicitors in England and Wales. Our SRA number is 655606.

Claims management companies (CMCs) are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). CMCs do not have their own legal practices. 

We process personal injury claims as part of National Accident Law. We also work with a national network of specialist personal injury legal firms who we vet very carefully to provide you with the best possible customer experience.

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