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Cerebral Palsy Victim Receives £33 Million Damages

Long lives and the ever-increasing cost of professional care mean that some of the most gravely injured clinical negligence victims require damages awards that to some may appear eye-watering. In one case, however, there could be no doubt that a girl who suffered challenging disabilities needed every penny of the £33 million damages she was awarded.

The girl, who is approaching her teens, suffers from a constellation of disabilities after being deprived of oxygen during her birth. Despite cerebral palsy arising from damage to her brain, she is mobile and physically very strong. She can be impulsive and defiant and is prone to violence without warning. She has psychiatric difficulties and suffers from intractable epilepsy, and her vision is impaired. She needs two professional carers to be with her at all times.

After proceedings were launched on her behalf, an NHS trust swiftly admitted liability in full for her injuries. However, the complexity of her case was such that it took a further 10 years of painstaking work on the part of her legal team and medical experts to achieve a final settlement of her clinical negligence claim, which was one of the largest recorded to date.

Together with a lump sum of £11.8 million, under the terms of the settlement she will receive annual, index-linked payments to cover the costs of her care for life. Those payments will start at £310,000 a year before rising to £345,000 a year when she reaches the age of 19. Given her long life expectancy, the settlement had an estimated capitalised value of just under £33.2 million.

Approving the settlement, the High Court noted that it would enable the girl to be looked after around the clock by a team of carers in a specially adapted home. Whilst the sums of money involved might appear very large, they are no more than is necessary to fund such an extensive care regime.

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