Success Stories for Children’s Brain Injury Cases
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LF v Fordgate (CITY) Ltd
A young girl playing with her friends gained access to an unoccupied building that was frequented by local children. The building was not properly secured, despite a child having suffered serious injuries when he fell through a hole in the roof some three years previously. Our client entered a shed like structure on the flat roof at the top of the building and fell approximately 15’ through a hole onto a concrete floor below. She was unconscious with a Glasgow Coma score of 3 (totally unresponsive). She was ventilated but developed a right-sided tension pneumothorax necessitating chest drains. She suffered multiple rib fractures. A CT scan showed that she suffered a depressed right frontal fracture, frontal brain contusion and subdural haematoma. A CT scan of her abdomen showed bruising within the pelvis. After she was discharged home from hospital she developed behavioural problems with aggressive outbursts, insolence and verbal abuse.
Liability for the accident was settled on the basis of 70% in the Claimant’s favour. The Defendant argued that although the Claimant suffered a serious injury this has made little if any difference to the eventual outcome. We successfully recovered compensation which recognised that whilst the Claimant had some pre-existing behavioural problems, the impact of her head injury has resulted in deficits in initiation, drive and motivation, together with lack of insight. It was these deficits in particular that have caused a need for care and a lack of earning capacity.
DB v Stevenage Borough Council and PW
DB was a school boy who cycled from land owned by Stevenage Borough Council onto a “cycle way”, on which mopeds were permitted to travel. Mrs Pamela Williams was riding a moped along the cycle way and a collision occurred between her and DB; Mrs Williams was blameless. DB sustained serious head injuries.
Liability for the accident was settled on the basis of two thirds in the Claimant’s favour against SBC. At the time of the accident, DB was a schoolboy functioning within the normal range. Our case was that but for the accident, DB would very probably have led a perfectly normal life, obtaining a semi-skilled or skilled manual job, and enjoying normal social interaction and family life.
DB sustained fractures to the temporal and basal skull with subarachnoid haemorrhage. He was unconscious for several weeks and remained in hospital for several more weeks during which he had almost complete amnesia. He was left with an unreliable short-term memory and some language difficulty, with fluency, reading and writing all impaired. He was disinhibited, embarrassingly outspoken and irritable. He was stone deaf in one ear. He had dysexecutive syndrome. He had very little insight into his predicament.
DB had periods of depression and low mood. He was indiscriminately friendly and open towards others. He was slightly clumsy. Fatigue was a persistent problem. He also developed complex partial seizures which were only partly controlled.
The court approved a settlement for DB which included compensation for care, assistance and supervision throughout his life, loss of earning capacity and a package of privately-paid clinical care.
LZ v Personal Representatives of DZ
LZ was 17 months old when she suffered serious brain injuries in a road traffic accident. She was a passenger in a car driven by her mother which collided with the rear of a lorry.
LZ suffered terrible multiple injuries including a fractured rib, a fractured distal right forearm, periorbital swelling, a fractured right clavicle and collapsed right upper lung lobe, and a very serious head injury. CT head scan showed a signal change consistent with cerebral swelling and areas of contusion in the right posterior-right temporal lobe, corpus callosum and region of the pineal. Her consciousness level deteriorated within 24 hours so that she was re-intubated and ventilated electively with intracranial pressure monitoring which was normal. She was found to have a third nerve palsy.
Her early physical development after the accident was relatively normal and she was able to learn to walk. She also retained a level of intelligence and was able to communicate.
However she was effectively blind in one eye and developed frontal lobe dysfunction which meant that she would never recover to a level of functioning that would allow her to live a carefree or independent life. She retained intellect and yearned for independence but possessed little insight. She was vulnerable and manipulative. She was not a compliant head injured person. She was difficult to motivate and developed temporary enthusiasms and fads for activities which she would soon abandon. She was not able to learn patterned behaviour. She was confrontational, impressionable and sexually vulnerable. She suffered early onset of puberty.
The defendant argued that LZ was somebody who could be motivated if she saw an opportunity to engage in activities that she found interesting. We obtained evidence to show that this was not the case but that there was a pattern of temporary enthusiasm blunted by the reality of her condition and situation.
We obtained annual interim payments of damages until the LZ’s long term future was clear.
The final settlement approved by the Court included compensation for past losses and future accommodation and loss of earnings as well as future periodical payments to continue to fund a team of support workers caring for her on a virtually 24-hour basis with neuropsychological input and professional advice for the lay deputy.
AT v RF MT plc and AT
On the day before his 17th birthday AT was one of two front seat passengers in a Transit van driven by his father, the Third Defendant. None of the three was wearing a seatbelt. The van was in collision with a bus.
AT sustained a very severe traumatic brain injury when his head struck the windscreen at great speed. His Glasgow Coma Score was 3/15. Imaging revealed a diffuse axonal brain injury with peri-acqueductal brain stem involvement, thalamic bleeding and intracerebral contusions. An intracranial pressure bolt was inserted. AT was managed on the intensive care unit with a tracheostomy and per-endoscopic gastrostomy feeding tube. He remained in a coma for 10 weeks. During his time he developed MRSA. When he emerged from his coma, a diagnosis of cortical blindness was made, but subsequently his vision largely returned.
Liability for the injuries was settled on the basis of 85% in the Claimant’s favour.
AT has been left with difficulties with cognition, memory and frontal executive function. He cannot plan or organise. He cannot “multi-task” or prioritise tasks. He is dependent on others for motivation and initiation. There have been serious psychological, emotional and behavioural problems. AT is disinhibited and hyper-sexual. He is unemployable, and receives 24 hour care because it is inappropriate to leave him alone for any significant period of time. AT himself is aware that he has sustained a brain injury, cannot work, and needs assistance; but his insight into the full extent of his problems is very limited.
Damage to the back part of the brain has caused a disorder of eye movement and pupil functioning. He has been left with some reduction in the clarity of his vision and a divergent squint. AT has difficulty with his speech, which is slurred and dysarthric. There is a risk of his developing epilepsy, which will remain greater than that of the normal population for 20 years or more from the date of the accident.
The Court approved a settlement which included compensation for past and future care, case management, earnings, therapies, transport, medical treatment, aids and equipment, court of protection and accommodation.
Catastrophic injuries for boy on his bicycle
Our client was aged 12 when he cycled from land owned by a local council onto a ‘cycle way’, straight into the path of a moped; he suffered very serious head injuries. Our client’s mother had originally instructed another firm but was dissatisfied with their lack of progress and 7 years later, transferred the case to Bolt Burdon Kemp. We argued that the local council knew that there was a risk of children cycling from their land on to the cycle way and they should have fenced off the land to prevent such accidents happening.
A barrister advised that the claim would not succeed because, with the passage of time, we could not trace witnesses to previous similar accidents. However, we persevered in investigating and ultimately succeeded in obtaining evidence in support of the claim, producing a settlement of liability approved by the court of 70/30 in the Defendant’s favour. Before the accident, our client had been a normal school boy who – when he left school – would have gone into a semi-skilled or skilled manual job and enjoyed normal social interaction and family life. The accident meant that instead he suffered a severe head injury, with fractures to the temporal and basal skull and a subarachnoid haemorrhage. He was unconscious for several weeks and had extensive post traumatic amnesia. Although he made a good physical recovery he developed dysexecutive syndrome with very little insight into his predicament. He was unable to plan ahead or to do more than one task at a time, and also suffered from complex partial seizures with loss of consciousness. We contended for a structured life package involving significant amounts of time devoted entirely to leisure pursuits with short periods of work.
The Defendant made a payment into Court of £165,000, which they later increased to £550,000. This was rejected and by negotiation the Defendant’s offer was increased to £600,000 (the equivalent of £1.8m on full liability), which was accepted and approved by the Court.
Miss E sustained catastrophic brain injury when she was two months old, as a result of a violent shaking by her father who subsequently pleaded guilty to the offence of assault causing grievous bodily harm. As a result of her injuries Miss E suffered cerebral palsy affecting all four of her limbs, with fits and seizures controlled by medication. She would have significant developmental delays and extensive health and care needs, unable to sit up or roll over and with poor vision. We achieved the maximum award of £250,000.00 for the injuries themselves within 2 years of applying to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation. In addition we successfully persuaded the CICA to pay the costs of setting up and administering the trust fund, when normally those costs would be deducted from the award.
Last minute settlement for motorcycle courier
Mr B was 16 years old and working as a motorcycle courier. As he was driving his scooter, the door of a parked van opened and to avoid a collision, he was forced onto the opposite carriageway where he was struck by a motorcycle coming in the opposite direction. Mr B sustained catastrophic head and spinal injuries. We sued both the van driver and Mr B’s employer, the latter having provided a vehicle which Mr B was too young and untrained to ride, and effectively the means for him to have a serious accident. Days before the liability trial, both Defendants jointly accepted 90% liability for our client’s accident.
Birth Injury and Cerebral Palsy
This medical negligence claim involved the birth of twin girls. One sadly died at birth, and the other was born with Cerebral Palsy due to the negligent handling of the mother’s birth. Our medical negligence solicitors settled the claim for £3 million, which included provision for the surviving child’s care and accommodation needs as well as compensation for her loss of earnings. On hearing the settlement, their mother said “8 years ago our lives were taken away and today you’ve given them back”.
Brain injury due to anaesthetic error
The Claimant, a boy of 3 years old, suffered permanent brain damage during dental surgery to remove several milk teeth. He was given a general anaesthetic during which he suffered a lack of oxygen, causing brain damage which affected his cognitive functions, speech and language abilities, and fine motor skills. The Claimant received £1.5 million in compensation including sums for his care, accommodation and future loss of earnings.
This medical negligence compensation claim also resulted in health regulations being changed so that anaesthetic can only be provided to children in a hospital setting under specialist supervision.
Birth Injury and Cerebral Palsy
Baby B suffered brain damage during birth due to oxygen starvation which resulted in Cerebral Palsy. He suffered asymmetrical spastic quadriplegia, developmental delay, learning difficulties and associated mental and physical handicaps complicated by epilepsy. Liability was denied throughout the claim. Our medical negligence solicitors settled the case for £1,050,000.