Judgment and £250,000 interim payment after negligent water birth causes child's cerebral palsy

Judgment and £250,000 interim payment after negligent water birth causes childs cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy specialist, Susan Brown, has helped the family of a child who suffered profound brain damage during her water birth obtain an apology, full admission of liability and an interim (part) payment of £250,000 from the hospital where the birth took place.

Our 3-year-old client has severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy. She is blind and suffers from epilepsy, gastroesophageal reflux and significant learning difficulties. She first suffered a significant period of reduced oxygen (chronic partial hypoxia) during her mother’s water birth labour. The fetal heart-rate abnormalities which should have alerted the midwife to her distress and should have led to a doctor being called and an earlier delivery were missed owing to the midwife’s failure to monitor the fetal heart-rate correctly. Even when the midwife finally noted the abnormalities, she failed to call for obstetric help. This led to further delays in delivering the baby, during which the baby suffered a short period of near total (acute profound) oxygen deprivation in the minutes immediately before her birth.

An MRI scan later confirmed that the baby had suffered profound hypoxic ischaemic injury. It was not possible to establish how much of the child’s brain injury was due to the short, ‘acute’ period of near total oxygen starvation which would have been avoided if the midwife had acted correctly, and how much unavoidable damage had already been caused by the chronic partial oxygen shortage before the negligence led to additional delay and further injury. In these cases, the law says that the claimant should be compensated for the ‘material contribution’ that the defendant’s negligence has made to their injury. Where it is not possible to separate out the effects of the negligent, avoidable injury from the non-negligent unavoidable injury, the law requires the defendant to compensate the claimant for the full effects of their injury.

The admission of liability allowed us to obtain judgment for our client and an interim payment of £250,000 to meet our client’s family’s urgent needs. Boyes Turner’s focussed approach to severe injury claims means that substantial sums of money are made available to pay for essential help with care, adapted accommodation, equipment and any other urgent needs long before the final settlement of the case. Our clients can start to rebuild their lives at an earlier stage in the claim, whilst we gather the medical, therapeutic and financial information that is necessary to ensure that our client’s ongoing and lifelong needs are properly provided for in the final settlement.

Our client’s family kindly commented: ‘Susan Brown and her team have been fantastic. Very open and clear communication with an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise.’

If you are caring for a child or young adult with cerebral palsy or serious neurological disability caused by medical negligence, and would like to find out more about how we can help you, contact us by email at cerebralpalsy@boyesturner.com.

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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