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Claims can be brought on behalf of children who have suffered an injury as the result of negligent medical treatment. Children are not able to bring claims themselves, because they are too young to have legal capacity. These claims must therefore be brought on their behalf by a litigation friend. This is usually one of the child’s parents.
The Clinical Negligence Team have dealt with many claims on behalf of children and can advise if you believe your child may have received negligent treatment. If you would like to learn more, specifically about birth injuries, then you can refer to our extensive birth injury guide.
Claims can be brought for any type of injury a child has suffered as the result of negligent medical treatment. Members of the CN team commonly bring Cerebral Palsy and Erb’s Palsy claims on behalf of children, but the claims can be for any injury, large or small. The litigation friend must give the solicitor their instructions.
Where the injury is a significant one, meaning the child is likely to require long-term assistance in the future, the case will not be able to be fully resolved until the child is old enough for their long-term prognosis to be known. In many instances it will not be possible to know the prognosis until they are 7 or 8 years old. However, the claim can still be brought earlier, so that the liability (fault) part of the matter can be resolved. Once this has been resolved payments can be obtained from the Defendant to meet the child’s ongoing needs, until the full extent of these can be determined.
A claim can be brought on behalf of your child if the cause of their injury wasnegligent medical treatment. In order to show that the treatment received was negligent it is necessary to prove that the standard of care provided fell below a reasonable standard and that the substandard part of the treatment caused the damage. Medical experts can provide reports commenting on the standard of care and what, if any, damage was caused by substandard treatment.
Compensation is awarded in two categories: firstly for the child’s pain and suffering, and loss of ability to do the things that they used to be able to do, and secondly for any direct financial losses which they (or someone on their behalf) have suffered or will suffer in the future.
The categories of loss which will go to make up the claim will depend very much on the nature of the injury, but could include a claim for care given by a relative in the past and for the cost of any professional care required in the future. It will include the costs of any treatment required as a result of the injury, such as physiotherapy. Loss of earnings may also be claimed, if the injury is likely to affect what the child will be able to do for a living.
The extent of the compensation will vary depending upon the severity of the injury. Below are some of the cases our team members have handled for a broad indication of value.
Kerstin Kubiak recovered compensation for a baby girl after the defendant hospital trust failed on numerous occasions to diagnose her congenital displacement of the hip.
An examination of her hips was undertaken following her delivery but no abnormality was detected.Over the following months it became apparent that her left foot inverted when she was supported in an upright position and so her mother took her to her GP, who in turn transferred her back to the hospital. It was only at this stage that the displaced hip was recognised.
Kerstin Kubiak, Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team recovered £445,000 for a 12 year old girl whose congenital hip displacement was not diagnosed and treated until over a year after her birth.
Following her delivery, the girl’s mother noticed that her right foot flopped inwards but was assured this was no cause for concern, despite the fact that there was a family history of congenital displacement of the hip. It was not until some 17 months later, following a referral by her GP, that the displacement was finally diagnosed.
One of our clinical negligence specialists, Richard Coleman, recovered £100,000 for a child who suffered bilateral hearing loss as a result of the the negligent handling of her birth.