Top ranked cerebral palsy claims lawyers
£3,375,000 settlement for girl with dyskinetic cerebral palsy
Boyes Turner’s specialist cerebral palsy lawyers have secured a lump sum settlement of £3,375,000 for a seven year old girl with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
The claimant’s brain injury, which has left her severely disabled, unable to speak and dependent on others for all her basic needs for the rest of her shortened life, was caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in the minutes leading up to her birth. During her mother’s labour in hospital the CTG monitor showed that for eight minutes the baby’s heart-rate had dropped to 60bpm. This was a profound bradycardia (reduced heart-rate) which indicated that the baby was being starved of oxygen. The midwife asked for a registrar to come to the delivery suite urgently but the only registrar on duty that night was in theatre preparing for surgery. The registrar left the theatre, attended the claimant’s mother but failed to perform an assisted (forceps) delivery having misinterpreted the CTG trace as showing an improvement. The trace showed a heart-rate of 140bpm – a normal finding for a fetus – but was in fact picking up the mother’s heart-rate because the fetal heart-rate was too low to be detected. Failing to recognize that this could only be the maternal heart-rate after such a long period of bradycardia, instead of delivering the claimant immediately, the registrar returned to theatre to carry out the routine surgery on another patient.
When the claimant was born she had suffered a profound episode of hypoxia and needed prolonged resuscitation at birth. If she had been delivered by forceps when the registrar attended, she would have avoided at least some, if not all, of her disability.
In order to succeed with a medical negligence case the claimant must prove not only that the care they received was negligent but also that the negligence was the cause of their injury. In this case the timings of the events leading up to the claimant’s birth were very tight and the medical experts on each side disagreed about how fast a registrar who was in theatre should have attended the delivery suite and delivered the baby in these circumstances and whether, with competent care, the claimant would have been born without permanent injury. There was a significant risk that at trial a judge might find against the claimant completely on causation, which would mean the case would fail, or heavily discount the claim on the basis that the negligence only made a contribution to the claimant’s injury – a finding which would substantially reduce the value of the claim. In order to manage those risks and provide the claimant and her family with the security of guaranteed substantial compensation, Boyes Turner negotiated a 60% liability settlement and, with the court’s approval, entered judgment. Substantial interim payments were then obtained to meet the claimant’s immediate needs for night-time care assistance, essential equipment and aids, therapies, case management and deputyship.
With liability assured at 60% Boyes Turner’s cerebral palsy specialists worked with a team of experts to value the claim. The claimant’s reduced life expectation and the 60% discount for liability both affected the level of the compensation but Boyes Turner ensured that the recent changes to the discount rate were also taken into account in the final settlement.
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