Cerebral Palsy Claims Solicitors

Our London-based medical negligence lawyers have extensive experience and expertise in representing families throughout the UK. They understand the complex needs a child with cerebral palsy requires.

Where possible, we will try and secure an early admission of liability which will lead to an early interim payment. This interim payment will be used to pay for care, rehabilitation, equipment and new accommodation, if required, or adapted accommodation if the family’s current home requires this.

If your child has got cerebral palsy due to medical negligence of treating midwifes or doctors, you may be entitled to a compensation. Contact the team for Free Consultation.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a condition that can result from a baby being starved of oxygen during birth. A lack of sufficient oxygen causes damage to the brain and may result in the baby having permanent physical or intellectual (often both) disabilities. Currently, it is thought that around 20% of cerebral palsy cases result from poor management during the delivery period.

Often doctors might refer to a new born baby’s brain injury as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE).

Cerebral palsy injuries are devastating, and impact not only the child but also the parents and the rest of the family. Living with/caring for a child with a brain injury can be very challenging especially when the child needs 24 hour care, specialist accommodation, equipment and essential therapies. Securing funds to pay for the best level of care after traumatic birth injuries is vital to help rebuild lives.

Causes of cerebral palsy

A baby’s brain injury can be due to a number of factors

Failing to recognise the baby’s abnormal heartbeat

Doctors and midwives rely upon a device called a cardiotocograph. This device is used to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. The heartbeat is recorded on paper – this is called a Cardiotocographic trace (CTG). Many cases we have pursued have involved alleged failures to correctly interpret the CTG trace. This has led to a delayed delivery. During the period of delay the baby is likely to suffer with a lack of oxygen (hypoxia).

Umbilical cord management

The umbilical cord is at risk during the birth and failing to protect it can lead to problems. Errors during the birth can occur – such as failing to ensure that the cord does not prolapse or become crushed. If the cord is not protected then the baby can be starved of oxygen at the time of birth. Failure to manage these emergencies can lead to a brain injury or even the death of the baby.

Uterine rupture

Uterine rupture is a rare but life threatening injury for mothers and babies. Frequently this type of injury occurs during the birth of a second or third child when the mother may have undergone a C-section with her first child. A uterine rupture will leave a baby vulnerable to a brain injury due to oxygen deprivation. The mother’s life will also be at risk due to blood loss. Again, this is a medical emergency. On occasions, the condition is not recognised appropriately and mother and baby can s

Investigating a cerebral palsy claim

Hodge Jones & Allen will obtain the medical records for the mother and baby. We will assess these in-house – we are fortunate in that many of our solicitors are also medically qualified.

If we think the case has prospects of success then we will take a detailed statement from you and any other witnesses who may have been present at the birth.

We will then instruct experts to assess the claim. The types of experts required vary from case to case, but usually the disciplines of experts might be:

  • An expert obstetrician/gynaecologist
  • An expert in midwifery
  • A neonatologist
  • A neuro-radiologist

Expert reports will establish if there is a case that can be pursued.

Compensation claims for cerebral palsy

Compensation for cerebral palsy is made up of many different components.

  • General damages

These are awarded for the brain injury itself and the communication and mobility problems that may result from this. The maximum award for general damages according to the Judicial College guidelines is £337,700. This is awarded for severe brain injury or tetraplegia.

Families are also entitled to claim for the following

Hodge Jones & Allen’s Court of Protection Deputyship solicitors can assist with management of the claimant’s compensation award. The costs of managing the compensation form part of the claim – so there is no additional cost to the claimant. Contact our experienced solicitors for an expert legal advice.

More about special damages

Care from mother and father

This is sometimes called ‘gratuitous care’. The parents of a child with cerebral palsy are entitled to claim for the additional care that their child needs due to the Defendant’s negligence. This is often a very substantial sum because it includes both past and future care. We will assess each case individually as no two Claimants are ever in the same situation. We will calculate the support that you child has received and will required in the future. This claim can be made in addition to a claim for paid for, professional carers (see below).

Professional care

Although the mother and father often want to be hands-on carers for their child, the reality is that they will need assistance from paid carers. Depending on the level of disability, a team of carers will often be needed, perhaps working on a rota basis. Carers employed on a rota on day and night shifts are, of course, a very considerable cost. This part of the case is usually of the highest value. It is an area for dispute between the experts and need careful assessment by the lawyers instructed by the claimant.

Accommodation

Children with cerebral palsy may be wheelchair dependent some or all of the time. As such they will need to claim compensation for new alternative accommodation. Or it may that that their current accommodation is suitable provided it is adapted. A claim for new accommodation is often the first issue that needs to be addressed if negligence is admitted by the defendant. Often we would seek an interim payment at an early stage to assist the family.

Physiotherapy

Children with cerebral palsy need intensive physiotherapy. This may be just when they are young, or can be needed for all of their life. The costs of privately paid for physiotherapy can be claimed for.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapists advise and assist claimants with everyday activities – such as toileting issues. They can develop strategies to assist with independence. This is usually claimed for on a private basis so that the family does not have to rely on the NHS.

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy costs can be claimed by the claimant. We recognise that communication issues can be very frustrating for the claimant and their family. Private therapy can be claimed for as part of the compensation package so it can be tailored to suit your family’s needs.

Assistive technology/information technology

Some children or adults with cerebral palsy, especially those with communication issues, can hugely benefit from assistive technology. Assistive technology can let a child or adult control their environment with the touch of button on a keypad. It can bring a degree of independence which was not otherwise possible. We will consider whether technology can be claimed in your case.

Loss of earnings

Mild cerebral palsy may limit the job opportunities available to the claimant. A more severe form of cerebral palsy may mean that the claimant will never be able to work. The claimant is entitled to claim for their loss of earnings. In some cases the court will consider the occupations of the mother, father or siblings to establish what the claimant’s likely earnings may have been. Future wage losses can be claimed from 18 to retirement age, so this aspect of the claim can be substantial.

Aids and Equipment

A claim can be made for mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or other specialist equipment. Again, it is recognised that the NHS provision is limited and the claimant is entitled to claim for aids and equipment costs on a private basis.

Private therapies

Many families find that the NHS is limited in what it can offer their child. This may be due to geographical issues or lack of resources. If this is the case then the cost f therapy in the private sector can be claimed for the costs of such therapy in the private sector. This might be any kind of therapy – from orthopaedic surgery to sensory therapies.

Transport

Claimants will often need a specialist vehicle such a Volkswagen Caravanelle, a Mercedes Vito or other similar type of vehicle. The vehicle may well need to be adapted to the needs of the claimant. When submitting the compensation case, Hodge Jones Allen will include a claim for the need to replace the vehicle on a regular basis over the claimant’s lifetime.

Costs of financial management

At the conclusion of a successful cerebral palsy case the compensation will be paid into a bank account to be managed by a professional Trustee – called a Deputy. The role of the Deputy is to manage the compensation payment appropriately, advise and support the family and to prepare yearly accounts which are reviewed by the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection is a specialist court which appoints deputies to look after the financial affairs and welfare of people who are mentally incapacitated.

This is required to ensure that the claimant’s finances are carefully and appropriately managed.

Funding Cerebral Palsy Claims

The majority of our cerebral palsy cases are funded by Legal Aid. Other cases are funded by way of a conditional fee agreement, more commonly known as a No Win No Fee agreement. This means there is no financial risk to you.

How are damages paid?

Cerebral palsy compensation claims are often paid for by the NHS in a lump sum and periodical payment basis. The lump sum is usually to cover past costs, general damages and accommodation costs (the costs of buying and adapting a house).

The future costs that the family will incur are often paid by way of periodical payments (sometimes called Periodical Payment Order or PPO). The PPO is usually paid once per year and the amount of the payment is designed to cover the claimant entire financial needs – for carers, physiotherapists, case managers and other therapists – for the next twelve months.

The amount of the periodical payment is linked to wage inflation so the sum paid to the claimant increases each year. The PPO will remain in force for the life of the claimant.

Case Study: Mismanagement at birth

We acted for 12-year-old boy who was injured due to a mismanaged birth. His mother’s labour was complicated by shoulder dystocia. His case was that urgent assistance ought to have been summoned by the midwives within 2 minutes of delivery of the head. If he had been delivered earlier, he would have been in a better condition and would have avoided suffering from moderately severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy. His life expectancy was reduced as a result.

Outcome: £3.4 million in damages

Frequently asked questions

Who pays the compensation?

This depends on who the Defendant is.

NHS Claims – The NHS is self-insuring. All compensation payments made by the NHS is paid from Government funds from a budget managed by the National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA). The NHSLA employs a panel of approved solicitors who represent NHS Trusts.

Claims against private doctors – A doctor or medical professional working in the private sector is not covered by the National Health Service Litigation Authority scheme. They arrange their own insurance with specialist private insurance companies. The usual insurers are the Medical Defence Union (MDU), the Medical Protection Society (MPS) or the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS). These organisations are funded by premiums paid by their members.
Claims against General Practitioners – GPs are not covered by the National Health Service Litigation Authority scheme. They arrange their own insurance with specialist private insurance companies. The usual insurers are the Medical Defence Union (MDU), the Medical Protection Society (MPS) or the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS). These organisations are funded by premiums paid by their members.

Claims against Dentists – again, dentists are not covered by the National Health Service Litigation Authority scheme. They arrange their own insurance with specialist private insurance companies. The usual insurers that we deal with are the Dental Defence Union (DDU), Dental Protection (a subsidiary of the Medical Protection Society) the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS). These organisations are funded by premiums paid by their members.

What can I claim compensation for?

In a clinical negligence case you would be entitled to claim for two types of compensation:

  1. General Damages:for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the injury itself.
    General damages are calculated by reference to a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (formerly the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines). These Guidelines are designed to provide a clear framework for the assessment of damages in medical negligence cases. These guidelines are well known by the Claimant and the Defendant’s solicitors and if a case goes to trial the Judge will use these guidelines to calculate the appropriate award for General Damages.

In addition, another publication called Kemp and Kemp lists many different types of cases that have settled out of court or that have been decided at trial. This textbook is several hundred pages and is constantly updated.

By reference to the JC Guidelines and Kemp the solicitors at Hodge Jones Allen can calculate the value of the General Damages Claim.

  1. Special Damages:Special Damages are the damages awarded for any past or future financial loss. These are individually calculated for each case. There is no textbook or guide for this part of the Claim. It is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the Claimant.

Special damages claim will comprise of;

Loss of earnings / Loss of promotion prospects – for unpaid time off work in the past or for loss of promotion prospects in the future. If a claimant has been seriously injured and cannot return to work then a clam will be made for future loss of earnings.

Past Care and Future Care needs – a claim can be made for the unpaid (gratuitous) care provided by family members. We will take details of who has looked after the Claimant and calculate how many hours care has been provided. In significant cases we will obtain expert evidence on the care required. The specialist experts we employ to asses our clients are very experienced and will carefully assess the level of care an injured Claimant has needed/ will require. This is often a very substantial part of the claim in serious injury cases. In some cases over 50% of the total value of the claim might relate to future care needs.

Aids and equipment – if aids and equipment are required then this will be assessed by an expert Occupational Therapist that we will arrange to meet with you.

Future medical treatment – we will always ask our appointed medical experts if further treatment is needed as a result of the negligent injury. If treatment is required then a Claimant is entitled to claim for this on a private paying basis – injured Claimants do not have to rely on the NHS.

Prosthetics – amputees are entitled to claim for the costs of prosthetic in the private. It is generally accepted that it is not reasonable to expect a claimant to rely on NHS prosthetics only.

Pension loss – if a medical accident has forced a claimant to leave their job then it will be necessary to calculate their pension loss. This can sometimes be quite complex and may require an accountancy expert.

Past/Future DIY and gardening – if a claimant’s injuries prevent them from undertaking household tasks then a claim can be made for employing people to carry out those tasks.

Interest – interest is also claimed on all past losses

It can be difficult to advise at the outset as to the amount of compensation you may obtain if your case is successful as this will depend on the particular circumstances of your case, and expert evidence may be required. As your case progresses your solicitor will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of what your case is likely to be worth.

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Phone:0808 231 6369
Fax:020 7388 2106
Address:Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors
180 North Gower Street
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NW1 2NB
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