Where personal injury claimants live abroad, lawyers can face formidable difficulties in negotiating appropriate financial settlements. However, as was shown by the case of a 12-year-old girl whose family emigrated after she sustained catastrophic injuries at birth, there are few such legal hurdles that cannot be leapt.
The girl suffers from cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs. She endures cognitive and behavioural difficulties and is dependent on others for all her daily needs. She was nevertheless described during a High Court hearing as a delightful child with a very strong sense of self and a determination to play an active role in the country where she and her parents have settled.
After a clinical negligence claim was launched, the NHS trust that manages the hospital where the girl was born made no admission of liability. Following negotiations, however, it agreed to settle her claim for 75 per cent of its full value. On that basis, she would receive a lump sum of US$13,980,399, together with annual, index-linked, six-figure payments to cover the costs of her care for life.
In approving the settlement, the Court commended the girl’s parents for the utterly devoted care that they had given her. Her father gave up his career to become her primary carer and her mother juggled her extraordinarily demanding job with her caring role. In achieving a compromise, lawyers on both sides had successfully confronted daunting complexities arising from the different education, healthcare and tax systems prevailing in the country where the family lives.