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How To Make A Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claim

January 16, 2012

This is a guest post by Chris Gawne.

Solicitors are often approached by parents with children who suffered a brain injury at birth desperately seeking answers as to what happened and needing to know whether the doctors or midwives are to blame for their child developing cerebral palsy. The first step when bringing a cerebral palsy claim is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the birth of the child, in order for compensation for the incident and the child’s future to be obtained.

The main task of this investigation is to prove that the treatment afforded to the mother and baby during labour or delivery fell below the standard expected of a reasonable doctor or midwife practising at that time. If this can be established it must then be shown that negligent treatment caused the child’s birth injury. Finding this proof is not an easy task and requires evidence from independent medical experts including an obstetrician, midwife, neonatologist, paediatric neurologist and neuroradiologist.

Once negligence is established the next step is to quantify the value of the claim.  In all successful birth injury cases, two types of damages are awarded: general damages and special damages. General damages are awarded for the actual injury suffered and are usually paid in a lump sum on conclusion of a case. In cerebral palsy claims the amount awarded depends on the extent of the brain injury. Often the amount is in the region of £250,000 for the most severe injuries. The multi million pound settlements you read and hear about are made up of special damages. Special damages give compensation for past and future financial losses such as the cost of care, adaptations to the home and equipment. The process of identifying special damages is referred to as a quantum investigation and is an especially extensive procedure in cerebral palsy cases. It requires the involvement of experts in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, accommodation, technology, speech and language therapy, care and case management. These experts are experienced in identifying the needs of those suffering with cerebral palsy and use their expertise to report on the current and future needs of the child bringing the claim. The cost of meeting the child’s future needs is calculated using sophisticated actuarial tables which take into account life expectancy, interest rates and inflation. Securing the best possible future for the child is at the heart of the quantum investigations.

Aim of the quantum investigation is to ensure financial security for the entirety of the child’s life. The special damages award covers future loses and is paid regularly in a continuing series referred to as ‘periodical payments’.

As cerebral palsy claims are expensive to investigate legal aid is available for those who are eligible. It is important to find a firm that has been granted a Legal Services Commission Clinical Negligence Franchise if you are looking for legal assistance. It is also advisable to use solicitors with AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) panel membership as this is a good indicator of a firm’s expertise in birth injury and brain injury cases. Cerebral palsy claims can take a long time to resolve and are emotional to pursue so it is important that you find a solicitor with whom you are comfortable with and who can trust. It is good to take the time to find the right solicitor for your individual case.

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