Disabled children brain damaged at birth receive payouts at High Court

17th October 2018

It has been reported that the NHS paid out £100 million to disabled children left brain damaged at birth in the space of just 24 hours.

On Monday and Tuesday last week the High Court approved settlements in 11 cases that were all children who had suffered brain damage at birth.

Medical negligence solicitor, Kathryn Sharkey, has spoken out about the importance of these payments that are required to provide for the injured person for the rest of their life.

One of the payouts was for a record £37million, which was awarded to a six-year-old boy who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after contracting herpes in hospital.

Last year the government altered the way that awards in these type of cases are calculated and ministers are now seeking to reverse the changes.

The damages are awarded to cover the huge costs of providing care over the victim’s life.

Kathryn Sharkey, senior solicitor at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “Brain injuries caused by the negligence of a medical professional can have catastrophic consequences for the patient and their family. They are truly devastating and the impact on the injured person’s quality of life will likely be significant, often causing a loss of function, affecting mobility and the ability to speak.

“Whilst on the face of it the payments seem large, especially if the payment relates to a child, they are required to make provision for the injured person for the rest of their life, and without which they would suffer severe difficulties.

“It is hoped that the discount rate remains at its current level, at a level that reduces the risk of investment for the injured person, but this remains to be seen.”

When finalising the compensation amount, courts apply a calculation called the Discount Rate. From 2002 until March 2017, the discount rate was set at 2.5 per cent. Former Justice Secretary Liz Truss then reduced this to -0.75% last year. She claimed that this should put the negligence victim in the same financial position had they not been injured, including loss of future earnings and care costs.

A bill is now going through the House of Commons that will provide a new way of settling compensation rates. It is awaiting approval and is expected to become law by next summer.

After consultation, a new discount rate will be introduced around nine months after that.

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