Costs of Care and Longer Lives Justify Big Clinical Negligence Awards

Awards of compensation in some of the most serious clinical negligence cases can appear very large to the uninitiated. However, as one High Court case showed multi-million-pound pay outs are readily explained by the galloping costs of professional care and ever increasing life expectancies.

The case concerned a nine-year-old girl who developed severe jaundice soon after her hospital birth. Her lawyers claimed that there was a negligent delay in giving her a total blood transfusion. In the event, she suffered serious brain damage and will require care and supervision throughout her life.

She is not as seriously physically disabled as many of those who suffer injury at birth, but that is counter-balanced by her insight into the extent of her difficulties, the behavioural problems that arise from that awareness, and her very long life expectancy. After lawyers launched proceedings on the girl’s behalf, the NHS trust that ran the hospital accepted that there had been shortcomings in her care and consented to a settlement of her claim on the basis of 85 per cent liability.

The trust agreed to pay her a lump sum of £6.8 million, plus annual, index-linked and tax-free payments to cover the costs of her care for life. Those payments will start at £130,000 a year, before rising in steps to £228,000 a year in 2028, when she will be approaching her 20th birthday. The capitalised value of the settlement, which was approved by the High Court, comes to £19,410,417.

L v King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Case Number: TLQ16/1355

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