Why do parents make a birth injury claim?

Father and disabled son talking

A child recently secured damages of £20 million in a brain injury case. Does £20 million seem a lot?

What caused the birth injury?

This was an obstetric case where mum had noticed a decrease in foetal movements. She attended the hospital and an ultrasound was carried out but there was no check of the baby’s heart-beat. She was told to return the following day for further checks and for the labour to be induced.

She returned to hospital as asked and again complained of reduced foetal movement. A CTG trace was done to check on the baby’s well-being.  This showed features of concern and a decision was made to deliver the baby by an emergency caesarean section.  Unfortunately, the baby suffered a brain injury from lack of oxygen.

The hospital accepted fault. They had failed to monitor the baby’s heart-beat at the first attendance and accepted that had this happened the baby would have been delivered before there was any irreversible brain injury.

The child’s lifetime needs were quantified by experts who are specialists in caring for children with disabilities. The Hospital Trust agreed to pay a lump sum payment of £7,000,000 in addition to an annual payment £125,000 increasing to £175,000 for the child’s lifetime.

How will the compensation be spent?

When a child needs 24 hour care together with specialist equipment and accommodation it is very expensive to meet those needs and far beyond the funds of the majority. A successful claim to meet those needs when there has been negligence by medical staff means that a child /adult in this situation will have their needs met for life.

Why do people claim?

Most families do not wish to pursue a claim.  They do so to try and avoid others having the same experience as them.  They also claim because they are struggling to meet their child’s needs.  They are also worried who may look after that child or adult if they are not around.   They do not wish to burden a sibling with the obligation of looking after a disabled brother or sister for life, however willing that sibling may be.

Even what seem to be very large awards are not so much when it comes to meeting the lifetime needs of a severely disabled person. It is however life changing for the family members who, without this, will spend 24 hours a day, every day, for the rest of their lives, caring and meeting the needs of that child who will never gain independence.

Expert medical negligence solicitor

Jackie Linehan is a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Enable law. She represents families whose children have suffered brain injury at birth or during their childhood. She is happy to talk you, with no obligation or charge, to see whether you may have a claim