StaRs blog: The new ‘freelance’ solicitor: practical aspects and our predictions
Richard Lodge acted for an 18 year old client who sustained brain injury at the age of two years and eight months. At that age our client was admitted to her local hospital with a two day history of fever, cough and respiratory distress. She was suffering from tracheitis (an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract). This condition remained undiagnosed and untreated until our client suffered an acute respiratory arrest and associated cardiovascular collapse. She required resuscitation, intubation and ventilation and was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital the following day.
As a result of the cardiorespiratory arrest our client sustained hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy. She developed physical, functional, sensory and communicative problems comparable to mild quadriplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy. She had a combination of fine and gross motor, balance, perceptual and visual impairments which caused significant difficulties with a wide range of everyday tasks. Our client’s brain injury was permanent but non-progressive. She required lifelong multidisciplinary input.
The Defendant NHS Trust admitted liability. As a result of the subtle and complex nature of our client's injuries, three stay of proceedings (adjournments) were required. Two were required to allow our client to develop into adolescence; a further stay was required to give our client a break from the assessment process required as a result of the litigation because, on the advice of her psychiatric expert, continued assessment ran the risk of tipping our client into an episode of depression which would have been detrimental to her health.
Despite her severe injury our client sat GCSE examinations and obtained eight qualifications. She subsequently obtained an AS-level qualification and thereafter studied for a BTEC examination. However, as a result of her injuries she had limited earnings capacity and her employment was likely to be staggered over the course of her working life.
Physically, our client presented with gait difficulties and ataxia. Pain was an on-going issue. She required on-going care, case management, physiotherapy and occupational therapy input. Her speech was mildly dysarthric and she had visual perceptual difficulties. As a result of her brain injury she had lack of binocular vision and was unable to appreciate depth perception. Changes in levels and textures caused difficulty for our client.
The parties attended a roundtable meeting in an attempt to narrow the issues prior to trial. Shortly after this meeting the parties agreed a settlement package consisting of a lump sum payable at the point of settlement together with on-going annual payments to cover care and case management costs for the remainder of our client’s life. Our client’s life expectancy was estimated to be between age 78 and 82.
The settlement, capitalised on a global basis, amounted to £4,987,720. The settlement included damages for our client’s pain and suffering and on-going further losses for accommodation, care, therapies and partial loss of earnings.
Dear Richard, thank you very much for all of the help and support that you have given me. I really appreciate it.
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