A 17-year-old boy has been awarded £11m in damages after undergoing an operation at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands, during which an “anaesthetic accident” left him severely brain damaged and requiring round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.
The settlement, which has recently been approved by a High Court Judge, has a capitalised value of £11.5m and will be paid over the course of the boy’s lifetime. It comes after Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust made a formal admission regarding the negligence which occurred at the hospital in 2006.
In a recent statement, the Trust’s medical director, Mr Amir Khan, apologised for the hospital’s failings, stating that the level of care provided to the boy was “unacceptable” and “fell below our aim to provide a consistently first-class experience to those who use our services.”
Whilst many people are often shocked when such large sums of compensation are paid out to claimants, it is important to consider the various elements which typically make up such claims in order to understand exactly how they are quantified.
In these types of cases, claimants will usually be entitled to recover two kinds of damages for the injuries they sustain as a result of any negligent treatment. These are known as general and special damages.
General damages are awarded for what the courts refer to as “pain, suffering and loss of amenity” and can vary enormously from case to case. Determining a figure for general damages involves an analysis of the medical evidence, judicial guidelines and previous decisions made by the court.
In contrast, special damages refer to a claimant’s financial losses and expenses which arise as a result of their injury. These can include - but are not restricted to - loss of earnings, travel expenses, care costs, costs of therapies such as physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, and often costs of alternative accommodation where special equipment and home adaptations may be required.
In claims like this one where the claimant’s injuries are particularly serious and result in life-long disability, the award will often be very substantial in order to account for future losses. The two most significant elements of future losses claims are loss of earnings and care costs.
These costs reflect the lost earnings potential of a claimant who would have been able to work in the absence of any negligence. Usually this is calculated on the basis of the type of job the claimant did before the negligence happened. Future care claims for cases where the claimant has been catastrophically and permanently injured are often large to reflect the costs of 24-hour care, which can often include live in carers and specialist equipment.
Sadly, as a consequence of the negligence that occurred in this case, the claimant will require round-the-clock care for the rest of his life. Whilst no amount of money can ever make up for what this young man’s family have been through, and will inevitably have to face in the future, it is hoped that his compensation award will at least give them peace of mind in knowing that his future needs are provided for.
Our clinical negligence solicitors offer a free consultation about securing compensation and rehabilitation for victims of brain injuries caused by medical mistakes. Home and/or hospital visits are available for people who cannot visit our offices. Call Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 112 4492 or contact us online and we will call you.