A perforated bowel can be a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. It can result in severe pain, fever and nausea and lead to complications such as sepsis and organ failure. In most cases, surgery is required to repair the perforation and prevent further damage to the body.
Bowel perforation can be due to various factors, including medical negligence, health conditions or trauma from accidents such as car crashes or falls. If someone else has caused you to suffer this injury through a negligent or intentional act, you might be eligible for compensation. A personal injury lawyer could help you recover damages for pain and suffering and any financial losses and expenses you incurred.
To find out if you can make a perforated bowel claim, call 0800 678 1410 or arrange a call back today to speak to a friendly legal adviser. If your case is valid, they will offer you a No Win No Fee agreement and guide you through all the steps of the claims process.
Can I make a perforated bowel claim?
Whether or not you can claim for a perforated bowel will depend on the circumstances surrounding your injury. If it was due to the negligence of a medical professional, such as a surgeon or GP, or as a result of an accident that was not your fault, you would likely be eligible for compensation.
As a general rule, a case has merit if there is evidence to show that:
- The other party, which would be the defendant in your claim, owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty of care towards you, causing your bowel perforation injury
- You have suffered damages as a result of your injury, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that there are strict time limits for starting a perforated bowel claim. Under UK legislation, the time limit is usually three years from the date your injury was diagnosed, with a few exceptions detailed in the section below.
How do I claim compensation for a perforated bowel?
To support a perforated bowel claim, you will need to gather evidence to show that the negligence or wrongdoing of another party caused your damage. You also need to prove the extent of your injury and how this has affected your life. The evidence used to support a claim could be in the form of:
- Your medical records can provide detailed information about your injury, including the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. They can also include notes from your healthcare providers that may indicate the cause of your perforated bowel or any mistakes made during your treatment.
- If your injury was caused by an accident and there were witnesses, their statements could provide valuable information about the cause and circumstances of your injury.
- Expert medical opinions can establish the standard of care that should have been provided and whether it was breached in your case.
- Your solicitor will arrange a free consultation with a specialist on your behalf.
- Photographs and videos of the accident scene can help establish how the injury occurred and the extent of the damage.
- Financial records such as medical bills, lost wage statements, and other expenses can help establish the economic impact of your injury.
Based on the available evidence, your solicitor will be able to determine the value of your perforated bowel compensation claim. They will then contact the other side and, if they admit liability, will begin to negotiate the best settlement possible on your behalf.
What is a perforated bowel?
The bowel is a long, tube-shaped organ in the abdomen responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste products from the body. The bowel can be divided into two main parts: the small and the large intestine. It plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health, and any problems or disorders affecting it can significantly impact digestion, absorption, elimination and overall health.
A perforated bowel, also known as gastrointestinal perforation, is a serious medical condition involving a hole or tear in the wall of the intestine, stomach, or other part of the gastrointestinal tract. That can lead to the contents of the digestive system, such as stomach acid and partially digested food, leaking into the abdominal cavity, causing inflammation and infection.
Bowel perforation can be due to several factors, including trauma to the abdomen, medical procedures such as colonoscopy or surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, or certain infections. It is a medical emergency and requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include perforated bowel surgery, antibiotics to treat any infection, and supportive care to manage pain and other symptoms. If left untreated, a ruptured bowel can lead to severe complications, such as sepsis or even death.
What are the symptoms of perforated or ruptured bowel?
A perforated or ruptured bowel can cause a range of symptoms, which can vary depending on the severity and location of the perforation. Some common symptoms of bowel perforation include:
- Sudden and severe pain concentrated in one area of the abdomen, which may be constant or intermittent and may worsen with movement or eating;
- Nausea and vomiting if the contents of the bowel leak into the abdominal cavity;
- The perforation can cause an infection to develop, which can lead to fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms;
- Tenderness, swelling and bloating in the abdomen area around the perforation;
- Difficulty passing gas or stool due to a blockage or obstruction in the digestive system;
- In severe cases, bowel perforation can cause a rapid heartbeat and other signs of shock.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. A perforated or ruptured bowel could be a life-threatening condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent serious complications.
How is bowel perforation diagnosed?
The diagnosis may involve a combination of physical examination, medical history, and specific tests and procedures. Your doctor may palpate the abdomen to check for tenderness, swelling, or other signs of infection. Decreased or absent bowel sounds may also be a sign of bowel perforation.
The medical history may include questions about your symptoms, such as stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills, and difficulty passing gas or stools. The doctor may also ask about any underlying medical conditions or previous surgeries that could increase the risk of a perforated bowel.
Diagnostic tests may include:
- Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds can detect signs of a perforated bowel, such as air or fluid in the abdominal cavity.
- Blood tests may be used to check for signs of infection or inflammation, such as an elevated white blood cell count.
- Exploratory laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a small camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to view the inside cavity and locate the perforation.
- A colonoscopy may be used to examine the colon and rectum for signs of inflammation, infection, or other abnormalities that could indicate a perforation.
Prompt and accurate diagnosis of a perforated bowel is essential to prevent serious complications and improve the chances of a successful outcome.
What are the treatment and potential complications of a perforated bowel?
The treatment for a perforated bowel depends on the severity of the condition, the underlying cause, and the overall health of the patient. In most cases, surgery is required to repair the tear and prevent further damage to the bowel and other organs. The following are some common treatments for bowel perforation:
- Surgery is the most common treatment if a person has suffered a perforated bowel. The surgeon will remove the damaged portion of the bowel and repair the perforation. In some cases, a temporary colostomy or ileostomy may be needed to allow the bowel to heal.
- Antibiotics to treat or prevent infections that can develop after a person’s bowel has ruptured or been perforated.
- IV fluids and nutrition through an IV may be necessary until the patient can resume normal eating and drinking.
- Pain medication to help manage the distress associated with a perforated bowel.
- Monitoring – patients may need to be closely monitored for signs of infection or other complications, such as sepsis.
A perforated bowel can cause several complications, some of which can be life-threatening. These may include:
- Sepsis: A perforated or ruptured bowel can allow bacteria and other contents of the intestines to leak into the abdominal cavity, leading to infection and potentially causing sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection and can cause organ failure.
- Abscesses: The presence of bacteria in the abdominal cavity can lead to the formation of abscesses, which are collections of pus. These can cause pain, fever, and other symptoms and may require drainage or surgical removal.
- Bowel obstruction: A perforated bowel can cause a blockage in the intestines, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
- Peritonitis: Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the tummy. It can occur when bacteria or other substances leak from the bowel and can cause symptoms such as pain, fever, and tenderness.
- Fistulas: A perforated bowel can also cause the formation of a fistula, an abnormal connection between two organs or tissues. Fistulas can cause pain, infection, and other symptoms and may require surgery to repair.
If you had to undergo perforated bowel surgery due to the negligence of another party, you might be eligible for compensation. To find out if you have a valid claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Common causes of bowel perforation
Bowel perforation can be due to various factors. Some common causes include:
- Diverticulitis: This is a condition in which small pouches (diverticula) in the colon become inflamed or infected. If the infection is not treated promptly, it can lead to a perforation of the bowel.
- Trauma: Trauma to the abdomen or pelvis, such as a severe blow or a road traffic accident, can cause bowel perforation.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can cause inflammation in the bowel wall, which can lead to perforation.
- Cancer: Bowel cancer or other cancers that have spread to the bowel can weaken the intestinal wall and cause a tear.
- Intestinal obstruction: When the intestine is blocked, pressure can build up, and this can cause perforation.
- Surgery: Bowel perforation can be a rare complication of surgery, particularly procedures involving the colon or rectum.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or steroids, can increase the risk of bowel perforation.
It is essential to note that bowel perforation is a serious medical condition that requires prompt medical attention. If you experience symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, or vomiting, seek medical help right away.
If your injury was the result of an accident caused by someone else, you might be entitled to make a perforated bowel claim. You could also be entitled to compensation if you needed perforated bowel surgery due to some type of medical negligence, such as:
- Failure to diagnose and treat a bowel condition promptly, such as diverticulitis or IBD;
- Errors during surgery, such as nicking the bowel with a surgical instrument or failing to detect a perforation during a procedure;
- Prescription of medications that increase the risk of bowel perforation, such as NSAIDs or steroids, without proper monitoring or consideration of the patient’s medical history;
- Failure to properly monitor a patient after surgery, particularly in cases where a perforated bowel is a known risk;
- Inadequate training or supervision of medical staff, leading to errors in patient care.
If you believe medical negligence has led to a perforated bowel, you should seek legal advice from an injury lawyer who specialises in medical negligence cases. They can help you determine if you have a compensation claim and guide you through the legal process of seeking compensation for your injuries.
How much compensation could I receive for bowel perforation?
Each case is unique, so it is hard to state from the beginning exactly how much you could receive for a perforated bowel claim. The amount of compensation awarded will depend on various factors, such as the severity of your injury, its impact on your life, and the level of negligence on the part of the medical professional or another responsible party.
Compensation for personal injury and medical negligence claims can include both general and special damages:
General damages cover the pain, suffering, and loss of amenity you have experienced as a result of the injury and could include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Physical impairment or disability
- Future pain and suffering
Special damages cover the financial losses and expenses you have suffered, such as:
- Past medical expenses such as doctor’s fees and diagnostic tests
- Future medical expenses based on the course of treatment prescribed to you
- Lost wages during recovery and future loss of earnings
- Transportation costs for ongoing visits to the hospital
- Costs of care and assistance during recovery, even if offered by a family member
Special damages are calculated based on tangible evidence such as wage slips, invoices and receipts. General damages are much harder to assess because they are intangible, subjective and do not have associated invoices or receipts. The Judicial College offers compensation guidelines for personal injury claims based on the type and extent of harm suffered by the claimant. According to these guidelines, you could receive:
- Between £10,000 and £20,000 for penetrating bowel injuries that eventually return to normal function and control
- Between £35,540 and £55,590 for a severe abdominal injury causing impaired bowel function and affecting future employment
- Up to £119,650 for bowel perforation leading to total loss of bowel function and permanent need for a colostomy
- Up to £146,840 for the total loss of bowel and urinary function and control, together with other health complications
After assessing your case, a personal injury lawyer can give you a more precise estimate of how much compensation you could be entitled to. For a free consultation, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
What is the time limit to claim for a perforated bowel?
You usually have three years to claim for a perforated bowel, starting from either:
- The date of the accident that caused your injury; or
- In cases of clinical negligence, the date you became aware that your injury was due to substandard care or treatment, which is known as the date of knowledge
If you believe your injury was due to someone else’s actions, you should speak to a legal adviser as soon as possible. That will ensure they have ample time to investigate your case and gather the necessary evidence to support a compensation claim. If you miss the deadline for starting legal proceedings, your case will become statute-barred, which means you will lose your right to claim compensation.
Under the Limitation Act 1980, there are a few exceptions to the three-year time limit to claim, which are as follows:
- If the claimant is a minor, the three-year limitation period does not start until their 18th birthday. For example, if the negligence occurred when the claimant was 16 years old, they will have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.
- In cases where the claimant lacks the mental capacity to make a claim, there is no time limit for starting legal proceedings. A litigation friend could seek compensation on their behalf at any time.
- If you were injured in an accident or while receiving treatment abroad, you might have to claim under the foreign country’s laws, and the time limit could be much shorter than three years.
- If you lost a loved one due to a perforated bowel injury, you could claim compensation within three years from the date of their death or the date a post-mortem confirmed the cause of death.
Can I claim on behalf of someone else?
Yes, as mentioned above, there are certain circumstances where you may be able to make a perforated bowel claim on behalf of someone else. To do so, your solicitor will need to apply to the court for you to be appointed as their litigation friend. The court will consider your suitability, including your ability to conduct the case fairly and competently and whether you have any conflicts of interest with the claimant.
The most common situations where this can occur are:
- Children: If a child is under 18 years old, they are considered a minor and legally unable to make a compensation claim. In this situation, a parent, guardian or another suitable adult could claim on behalf of the child at any point before their 18th birthday.
- Mental incapacity: If a person is not capable of managing their affairs due to a mental disability or illness, then someone else can act as their litigation friend and will not be bound by a time limit.
- Fatal accident: If a person has died as a result of medical negligence, a family member can start a claim on their behalf.
Becoming a litigation friend is usually a long-term commitment that brings several responsibilities, such as:
- Conducting legal proceedings and making decisions about the case
- Providing instructions to solicitors
- Acting in the claimant’s best interests
- Consider any compensation offers from the defendant
- Attend court hearings
- Pay any fees requested by the court
Overall, the role of a litigation friend is to act as a representative of the claimant and ensure that their best interests are protected throughout the legal proceedings. It is an important and responsible role, and it is essential to seek legal advice from a specialist medical negligence solicitor before taking on this position.
Can I make a perforated bowel compensation claim on a No Win No Fee basis?
The No Win No Fee service is commonly used in personal injury cases, including claims for a perforated bowel. If your solicitor believes you have a fair chance to receive compensation, they will offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), which means that:
- You do not have to pay any upfront fees for their services;
- You have access to justice regardless of your financial situation;
- You only pay your solicitor a success fee if you receive compensation;
- Your solicitor will be motivated to work hard to win your case, seeing as their fees are contingent on your success;
- There are no hidden charges, and the success fee will be agreed upon from the beginning;
- Your injury lawyer will help you collect and collate evidence to prove you are entitled to compensation for your perforated bowel;
- They will handle all communication on your behalf and keep you updated about the case.
Besides the CFA you sign with your solicitor, the No Win No Fee service also involves taking out After the Event (ATE) insurance. The ATE is a type of legal expenses insurance that can provide financial protection in the event you lose a legal case and will cover:
The costs and expenses of the other side, including their solicitor fees;
Your fees and disbursements, such as court fees, medical reports and expert witness fees.
In a No Win No Fee claim, ATE insurance provides you with peace of mind, as it protects you from the risk of having to pay these costs out of your pocket if your claim fails. You only have to cover the cost of the ATE premium if you receive perforated bowel compensation. Otherwise, the policy is self-insuring, and you will not pay a single penny.