A seven year old girl starved of oxygen at birth, which resulted in severe cerebral palsy of all four limbs and the inability to speak, has won substantial damages for full compensation upon appeal at the High Court.
When a claim for clinical negligence was first entered and following an investigation, the NHS Hospital Trust acknowledged there had been a failure in the “standard of care” prior to the delivery but imposed a cap on the amount of damages they were prepared to pay.
The Trust disputed the compensation figure that the family claimed for the child’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of her “life in the future”, which included loss of earnings and pension up to the age of 93. There can be a restriction imposed on similar loss claims based on the period of life expectancy, which in the present case, was reduced to 47 years.
At the appeal hearing, the court heard that while the seven year old was able to attend a mainstream school with one-to-one support, as result of frustration at not being able to communicate, her ability to learn was affected by “dramatic moods swings”, which were also a disruptive influence on family life.
The court also heard how the parents were successful professionals, and it was highly likely that their daughter “would have gone to university and followed a professional career.” Before passing verdict the judge said the appeal court was “satisfied, on the balance of probabilities” that the girl was becoming aware of the limitations her injuries now impose, which would be “an increasing source of frustration and perhaps, unhappiness."
The judge then awarded a full settlement of the compensation claim for clinical negligence against the Trust Hospital to cover not only the costs of past and future care but also compensate for future loss of earnings.