Medical Negligence
By Gary Daly
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Compensation Structures for Cerebral Palsy Negligence Cases

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can be caused in a number of ways, unfortunately, one of them is by clinical negligence. The list below covers some of the main causes, however, this is by no means exhaustive:

  • Failure/delay in diagnosing infection in utero

  • Delays in delivery

  • Failure to appropriately interpret heart rate monitor

  • Incorrect use of drugs used to induce and speed up labour

  • Errors leading to dangerously low blood sugars

  • Failure to carry out a C-section in a timely manner

Cerebral palsy is quite a rare condition, however, this does not make it any less important. If there is evidence that clinical negligence was a factor, the focus more often than not is on the care of the mother and child in the period just before birth and after.

Progressing the Case

The initial step in making a cerebral palsy negligence claim is obtaining the mother’s and child’s medical records. This is followed by an analysis of the records and a statement made by the mother. The following step is to instruct an independent medical, and at this stage they will be asked to identify any critical mistakes which led to the cerebral palsy. If the medical evidence indicates that there was poor care which led to the condition, your solicitor will discuss on how to progress the case further.

Once the key expert evidence has been gathered, a letter will be sent to the opponent setting out the circumstances and allegations. On occasion, a full admission of liability will be made thereafter. If this is the case, the child may be entitled to what is called an interim payment. This will be a portion of the compensation paid outright to provide for early rehabilitation, respite, and care costs. The remaining portion may be agreed to be paid under a Periodical Payment Order.

What is a Periodical Payment?

A Periodical Payment Order (PPO) is essentially a different structure for a compensation award. A PPO requires the defendant to pay the claimant a regular income, at a pre-determined and agreed rate, for the remainder of the claimant’s life. This is designed to meet the day to day living expenses of the claimant.

These payments will be based on the assessment on current and future needs, made by medical professionals.

The main potential advantages of Periodical Payments Orders over lump sum payments in Medical Negligence Actions are:

  1. Less risk of under-compensation than with the lump sum system which is usually based on predictions of life expectancy.

  2. A PPO does not prejudice entitlement to free national or local authority provision in respect of state benefits, local authority residential care or local authority provided care.

  3. PPOs are designed to meet the needs of the plaintiff over the course of their lifetime. Therefore, such an approach provides financial security to those who require lifelong care.

Once liability is admitted or established by the Court, your solicitor will work with you to secure the best form of compensation, tailored to suit your and your child’s needs. This may manifest itself in a combined form of compensation i.e. a lump sum, followed by periodical payments.

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