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Multi-Million-Pound Settlement Achieved for Disabled Teenager

Many clinical negligence lawyers will tell you that negotiating a good settlement of a claim can be every bit as challenging as standing up in court. In a case on point, the High Court praised opposing sides for achieving a multi-million-pound compromise of a disabled teenager's case.

It was alleged on the 15-year-old boy's behalf that there was a failure to properly monitor his mother's labour before she gave birth to him. It was claimed that medical staff did not respond appropriately to significant pain endured by the mother which probably signified that she had suffered a placental abruption.

The boy suffered hypoxic brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy. He was not, however, as seriously disabled as many children who are injured at birth and pioneering surgery when he was six or seven years old had been remarkably successful, significantly improving his mobility.

After proceedings were launched, the NHS trust that ran the hospital where he was born swiftly admitted liability for his injuries. However, the case raised difficult issues in respect of the boy's life expectancy and the costs of his future care and accommodation, which were the subject of hard negotiation.

Following mediation, the trust ultimately agreed to settle his claim for a £7,790,000 lump sum, together with annual, index-linked payments that will cover the costs of his care for life. Those payments will start at £115,000 before rising in stages to £177,500 in the latter stages of his life expectancy.

Approving the settlement, the Court observed that, despite his difficulties, the boy enjoys playing and watching football and eating out. But for his injuries, he would have expected to attend university and obtain graduate employment. Every aspect of his life was affected by his disabilities and the settlement could not be viewed as a win or a gain for him or his family. No amount of money could ever fully compensate him for all that he had lost.

The Court noted that both sides had been extremely well advised with the result that a genuinely good settlement had been arrived at, thus avoiding the stress of a contested trial. Of the settlement sum, the boy's truly impressive parents received £125,000 as some modest recognition of the care they had lavished upon him since his birth.