Julie Hardy reports on a successful outcome for her client who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy:
I acted for Max, who has cerebral palsy after his family asked me to see if there was a clinical negligence claim for him. I know what a difference compensation can make to a client with severe disability. Once I read the medical notes, I was concerned there were delays delivering Max and also resuscitating him after he was born.
When Max’s mum went into hospital she had a monitor, called a CTG, to check the baby’s heart rate. I instructed experts who stated that if the monitor had been properly checked, the medical staff would have realised Max was struggling. They did not do this, so by the time Max was eventually delivered he was in very poor condition and needed to be resuscitated.
Max had experienced hypoxia (lack of oxygen) due to the cord being around his neck. He needed urgent resuscitation but this was delayed and caused a longer period of time when Max’s brain was not receiving an adequate supply of oxygen.
After Max was resuscitated and moved to the Neonatal Unit, it became clear that he had probably suffered brain damage. Apgar scores are used to monitor how well a baby is after delivery. The scores for Max’s fetal wellbeing were low. His blood results, taken from the umbilical cord, showed acidosis. This happens when the blood does not have enough oxygen and indicated that Max was very ill. He was diagnosed with hypoxic ischaemic encephalitis – this is a medical way of saying there has been an injury to a newborn baby’s brain, due to lack of oxygen and blood flow.
Max was transferred to another hospital where he could undergo cooling therapy with the hope that this would reduce the extent of his brain injury.
By the age of 2 Max had been diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy with abnormal tone in all four limbs.
Some of my clients cannot move their limbs with any control and cannot easily communicate. Fortunately Max’s injury was relatively mild in comparison; although his physical development was delayed, Max gained the ability to walk but needs walking aids when outside his house. He requires some assistance with feeding, dressing and personal care but luckily can do quite a bit for himself.
Max’s brain injury has led to some cognitive impairment so he cannot keep up with everything that his peers can do. However, he is able to attend a mainstream school, he enjoys an active social life and has a keen sense of humour.
Settling The Claim
To bring a compensation claim, I arranged for Max to be examined by a number of different experts. The Hospital Trust agreed there were delays and the negligent medical care had caused Max’s cerebral palsy. I was then able to concentrate on valuing the claim for Max.
The next step was to identify the extent of Max’s injury and his needs for the future. This was important as I needed to calculate how much it would cost to look after and support Max during his lifetime.
I could not quantify the claim immediately for Max. I needed to wait until Max was at least 8 years of age so that the full extent of his medical needs and future requirements could be established. Once this could be determined, I asked experts to see Max to assess his therapy and medical needs, schooling, housing adaptions, equipment and care needs. This included how Max’s needs would change as he got older.
I was so happy for Max and his family when all the evidence was received and it was possible to agree a settlement with the Defendant hospital trust. The case was ready for trial because sometimes a settlement cannot be agreed. However, a few months before the case was due to go to trial, I met with the Defendants. We agreed damages which would mean Max was secure for the future. This settlement had to be approved by the Court because Max was under 18 years old.
Max’s Settlement for Cerebral Palsy
The total value of the compensation claim exceeded £11.5 million. Max is receiving this in 2 ways;
- a lump sum of £5.5 million
- annual periodical payments to cover his needs for care in the future. This is important as Max will have the annual payments for as long as he lives. This is often better than just one lump sum award because it’s impossible to know how long someone might live and to make all the money last.
After a case settles the compensation will help to pay for the adapted accommodation that Max needs together with all of the specialist equipment and therapy he would require throughout his life.
The periodical payments provide financial security and ensure that Max will have sufficient funding to pay for the specialist care he requires.
At the Court hearing I was pleased to hear the Barrister tell the Court
“I should note the very considerable efforts of Julie Hardy. With her usual calm focus she has navigated both the claim and the family through the stresses which are inevitable in litigation of this magnitude. That we have secured a settlement that is at the highest end of the possible range is testament to her attention to detail in instructing the best experts and marshalling the evidence”.
It was a great result for the family and I was delighted to be able to help them.