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Spirit of Compromise Achieves Financial Security for Medical Accident Victim

As any experienced clinical negligence lawyer will tell you, obtaining the best results for victims in terms of compensation requires careful risk assessment and a process of give and take. Precisely that approach was taken in the case of a teenage boy who was 15 months old when a medical accident left him seriously disabled.

The boy, aged 14, was born with a congenital condition but was developing normally prior to undergoing corrective surgery. The operation was successful and there was no criticism of the manner in which it was performed. Whilst he was recovering in hospital, however, a tracheal tube through which he was receiving oxygen became dislodged. It was argued that there was a negligent delay in re-intubating him so that he was deprived of oxygen for 20-25 minutes.

Due to the brain injury he sustained, he suffers from cerebral palsy. He can walk and run, but his balance is poor and he has difficulty climbing stairs. His mobility problems are expected to worsen as he grows older. His communication skills are limited and he is functioning cognitively at about the level of a six-year-old. He also suffers from respiratory and bowel problems and his life expectancy is agreed to the age of 74.

Following negotiations, the NHS trust that ran the hospital where the accident occurred agreed to pay 85 per cent of the full value of the boy's claim. A settlement was finalised whereby, together with a lump sum of £5,296,858, he will receive index-linked annual payments to cover the costs of his care for life. Starting at £72,638, those payments will rise in stages to £150,000 when he reaches the age of 22.

In approving the settlement, the High Court praised lawyers on both sides for their sensible and pragmatic approach to assessing litigation risks involved in the case. Pursuing such all-or-nothing cases to trial is an inherently risky business and all concerned had approached the matter in a spirit of compromise. The settlement drew a line under the case and will enable the boy and his family to get on with their lives with the benefit of financial security.