9 October 2003
The High Court has recently approved a £5.6 million damages settlement for one of our clients, a child with cerebral palsy. The 7 year old received negligent care and treatment at the time of his birth at a London Teaching Hospital. He has cerebral palsy (athetosis) resulting in severe physical disabilities.
The child will remain fully dependant on other people for personal care, eating, drinking and all day-to-day activities. He needs therapies, aids and equipment for mobility, communication and to control his environment and adapted accommodation.
In contrast to the severe physical disabilities, the child's intellect is not affected. He’s a normal bright 7 year old who wants to be involved in everything and as independent as his physical disabilities allow. Because of the severity of the disabilities, the child’s life expectancy is slightly reduced.
Sally Jean Nicholes, the child’s lawyer at Leigh Day & Co, obtained expert medical evidence and sent a detailed letter to the defending hospital setting out 15 allegations of negligence. It stated that the damage occurred during the last part of the mother’s labour and that if the necessary steps had been taken to deliver the child earlier, he would not have suffered the irreversible and profound brain damage that caused his severe disabilities.
Six months later the hospital admitted liability. They offered a settlement of £3.5 million. This figure was rejected.
Interim payments of damages were obtained which the family have used to employ carers to help meet the child’s 24-hour care needs. They have also been able to buy equipment and alternative accommodation adapted for the child. The final figure of £5.6 million damages was based on an extensive expert opinion on the child’s needs and the costs of meeting them for the rest of his life. The hospital refused to negotiate the settlement until a few days before the trial would have taken place, when an agreement was finally reached.
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