Compensation awards in the most serious clinical negligence cases often appear mind-bogglingly large. However, as a case concerning a disabled nine-year-old boy showed, they accurately represent economic reality against a background of ever-increasing lifespans and professional care costs.
The boy was starved of oxygen in the womb and faces a lifetime of severe physical disability. Mercifully, however, his cognitive abilities are largely intact and he has a long life ahead of him. He brings great joy to the lives of his family, who described him as a caring and very kind boy who talks to almost everyone.
After proceedings were launched on his behalf, on the grounds that there was a negligent delay in his delivery, the NHS trust that managed the hospital where he was born disputed liability. Following negotiations, however, the trust agreed to pay 80 per cent of the full value of his damages claim.
On that basis, a final settlement was reached whereby the boy received a lump sum of £8.925 million. He would additionally receive annual, index-linked payments to cover the costs of his care for life. Those payments will start at £125,000 a year, rising in steps to £240,000 a year when he attains adulthood. The settlement had an overall capitalised value in excess of £24.5 million.
Approving the settlement as in the boy’s best interests, the High Court was humbled to read of the happy and loving home with which his family had provided him. The compensation would go a long way to meeting his need for adapted accommodation, specialist equipment and professional assistance with all aspects of his daily life. The Court also agreed that £103,540 of the damages total should be paid to members of his family as some reflection of the care they had lavished upon him.