Amidst the daily challenge of caring for a disabled child, it is hardly surprising that seeking compensation is far from the top of many parents’ priority list. As a High Court case showed, however, it is vital for them to remember that they will not always be there to provide essential care and support.
The case concerned a 17-year-old boy who sustained neurological damage during his birth, resulting in cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. Thanks to his parents’ unwavering support, he had developed into a very engaging individual who, after doing well in his GCSEs, was studying for a BTEC qualification.
His higher intellectual functions were, however, likely to be increasingly challenged as he entered adult life. He will always require safeguarding and support and his earning potential is likely to be limited. In that knowledge, and with a sensible eye to the long future ahead of him, his parents consulted solicitors.
A clinical negligence claim was launched against the NHS trust responsible for the hospital where he was born. Although the trust disputed liability, a compromise was reached whereby it agreed to pay 70 per cent of the full value of his claim. Further negotiations yielded a final settlement of the claim for a lump sum of £2,967,513.
Approving the settlement, the Court hoped that it would enable him to face the future with security and confidence. His parents had made many sacrifices in fostering his independence and ensuring that he met his potential. Their devotion was apparent and the Court agreed that they should receive £50,000 of the total sum in modest recognition of all that they had done for him.