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Compensation in cerebral palsy claims
We know that compensation is not a magic wand to put things right but it can give a lifetime of financial security for a child or young adult and provide peace of mind for their family. Compensation can enable a child or young adult to achieve their full potential.
Every claim is different and the value of the claim will depend upon the needs of the individual child and issues such a life expectancy. It is only possible to claim compensation once, when a claim is concluded it isn’t possible to go back and claim more. That is why we always make sure that we are as certain as we can be about a child’s long term future needs before we finally value the claim.
Valuing a cerebral palsy claim
When we value a claim we look at every aspect of a child’s daily life, past, present and future and involve many different professionals in the assessment.
We can claim an amount for the injury itself, called general damages. This is based on previously decided cases and operates rather like a tariff based scheme. The amount awarded for brain injury is very modest in England and Wales on the basis that, in truth, no amount of money will put the injury right.
In addition to general damages, we can claim for all the losses and expenses that have been and will be incurred as a result of the injury over the child’s lifetime. These include:
- Care needs
We claim for the additional care needs of the child throughout their lifetime. This usually involves a claim for the additional parental care that has been provided and the cost of a commercial care package.
- Case management
Often the cost of a case manager is claimed as they organise and coordinate care and therapy packages for families.
- Suitable accommodation
We claim for the additional cost of suitable accommodation. Frequently a property will need to be purchased and specifically adapted to provide the specialist facilities for the child to include a bedroom and specialist ensuite, carers accommodation and therapy space as well as storage for equipment. We can also claim for the associated additional running and maintenance costs of the larger property.
- Treatments and therapies
We claim for the cost of therapies including physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and counselling.
- Travel and equipment
We claim for specialist items of equipment and assistive technology such as wheelchairs, trikes, seating, beds, baths, hoists, eye gaze technology, and environmental controls. We also claim for adapted vehicles and other additional travel expenses as well as additional holiday costs.
We consider educational placements and support and claim the cost of SENDIST tribunals and/or placements in independent schools.
- Loss of future earnings
We claim for the loss of earnings and pension based on the likely qualifications the child might have achieved but for the injury, the occupations of family and earnings data.
Where a child isn’t going to have the capacity to manage their financial affairs as an adult we claim the costs of a professional deputy with the Court of Protection. Alternatively, we might claim the cost of a professional trustee and personal injury trust if that is more appropriate.
Securing interim payments
Whilst we work with families and experts to value the claim we are able to secure very substantial interim payments of compensation to fund a child’s immediate and ongoing specialist needs.
The conclusion of a cerebral palsy claim
Once the claim is concluded compensation is often paid by way of a capital lump sum and annual payments for life for care and case management. Sometimes other items of expense are also paid on an annual basis for the life of the child. How the compensation is paid will be decided on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child.
I try to assist lawyers by explaining, in clear and comprehensible terms, what the relevant issues are and where the strengths and weaknesses of the case lie.
DR PETER DEAR