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High Court Comes to Aid of Alleged Clinical Negligence Victim in Dire Need

Clinical negligence claims inevitably take time to resolve but, as a High Court ruling showed, judges have the power to provide immediate financial assistance to alleged victims long before their cases are settled or come to trial.

The case concerned what was described as a freak accident in which a very fit and active man fell off a non-motorised scooter, suffering catastrophic spinal injuries. He was left tetraplegic and in need of 24-hour care. A clinical negligence claim was lodged against three NHS authorities asserting, amongst other things, that his disabilities would have been much less severe had he been correctly handled and immobilised following the accident.

One of the authorities had made limited admissions of breach of duty but the man's claim – which was said to be worth over £7 million – was otherwise wholly disputed. The case raised numerous complex issues and, more than four years after the accident, it was still at a relatively early stage. His living conditions were, in the meantime, deeply unsatisfactory. He was confined, with very little privacy, to inhabiting the single downstairs reception room of his family home.

After his dire need was highlighted, the Court found that a strong case had been established that various failings on the part of medical professionals had caused or contributed to the deterioration of his upper body function and the development of severe pressure sores. On that basis, the Court awarded him £109,006 in interim compensation to tide him over pending the final resolution of his claim.

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