£13 million settlement for young adult with neurological disability from lack of oxygen at birth

GBP13 million settlement for young adult with neurological disability from lack of oxygen at birth

Boyes Turner’s birth injury specialists have obtained a £13 million* (*capitalised equivalent) settlement for a young woman whose brain was damaged by a partial lack of oxygen in the hours leading up to her birth. The injury, which was caused by a series of maternity mistakes, left her with hidden but severe intellectual and associated psychological problems with moderate physical problems. The settlement will enable her to live independently with lifelong, full-time support.

Maternity mistakes led to delay in delivery

Our client’s mother was admitted to the defendant hospital in established labour. On admission, her unborn baby’s heart rate should have been checked but there was a two hour delay before CTG monitoring took place. When fetal heart monitoring finally took place, the CTG revealed that the baby’s heart rate was abnormally high (tachycardia). This warning sign should have prompted the midwife to call an obstetrician (doctor specialising in childbirth) to review the abnormal CTG. If an obstetrician had reviewed the abnormal fetal heart rate on the CTG trace, the baby would have been delivered urgently.

Instead, the mother was left unattended in labour and without an epidural. When she started to push, her husband found a midwife who set up another CTG. This showed reduced variability in the baby’s heart rate and late variable decelerations, both serious abnormalities indicating that the unborn baby was suffering from fetal distress. Despite these serious signs that the baby was struggling to get enough oxygen, the midwife failed to call a doctor. The mother was encouraged push and the baby was delivered vaginally two hours later in very poor condition. She wasn’t breathing at birth and needed resuscitation. She was admitted to SCBU. Blood tests showed that she was suffering from severe metabolic acidosis (an indicator of lack of oxygenation). She had suffered hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (brain damage from lack of oxygen) caused by a period of partial asphyxia in the time leading up to her birth.

Further delays by the defendant

Our client’s family approached us and asked us to pursue a claim for compensation for their daughter, for her neurological disability arising from her birth injury. Our skilled lawyers investigated the claim, overcoming evidential difficulties caused by the defendant’s incomplete maternity records and CTG traces which breached their own guidelines. The defendant delayed each stage of the liability claim, refusing to admit liability and causation fully until forced to do by imminent court hearings.

Interim payments of £550,000 to pay for case management, therapies and home adaptations

After securing an admission of liability and a letter of apology for our client, we obtained interim payments for our client totalling £550,000. This provided her with essential case management, psychological and physical therapies whilst we worked on the necessary preparations to negotiate a full settlement of the claim.

Compensation for our client’s neurological disability from birth injury

Our client’s brain injury has left her with significant neurological disability. Her intellect, memory, and speech and language are severely impaired. She has physical difficulties and suffers from fatigue. She can drive, but her independence is severely limited by her cognitive disability and high levels of anxiety which also restrict her social interaction. Her ability to work is extremely limited. She will need psychological support and lifelong, full-time care to enable her to live independently. She has a predicted normal lifespan.

We negotiated a settlement of our client’s claim which will provide her with a £3,519,000 lump sum for capital costs and contingencies, alongside guaranteed, index-linked, tax-free, annual payments rising to £125,500pa for the rest of her life.

Our client has the benefit of Court of Protection deputyship. Her settlement required the approval of the court and she is protected by an anonymity order.

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

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