Cerebral Palsy Victim Aged Nine Awarded Millions in Compensation
Assessing amounts of compensation due to clinical negligence victims is an inexact science which often requires give and take on both sides. However, a case in which a nine-year-old boy was awarded multi-million-pound damages from the NHS showed how lawyers bring their expertise to bear in negotiating just outcomes.
The boy suffered profound oxygen starvation prior to his hospital delivery. Had he been born 10 minutes earlier by caesarean section, he would have escaped permanent injury. As it was, however, he was stricken by cerebral palsy in all four limbs and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
After proceedings were launched on his behalf, the NHS trust which managed the hospital admitted liability for his injuries and agreed to a negotiated settlement of his claim. Together with a £5,875,000 lump sum, he will receive index-linked, tax-free annual payments to cover the costs of his care for life. They will start at £293,500 a year, rising to £333,200 a year when he reaches the age of 19.
In approving the settlement, the High Court noted that the boy has almost no motor function and can only lift his head for short periods. He cannot roll, sit or stand and suffers from reasonably well-controlled epilepsy and visual impairment. He has to be fed via a gastrostomy tube and has severe learning difficulties.
There had been substantial disputes concerning, in particular, the costs of the boy's future care, his lost earnings and his accommodation expenses. Concessions had been made on both sides, but the settlement represented about 84 per cent of the full value put upon his claim. The Court found that the end result was an appropriate compromise which was very much in the boy's best interests.