Severe Brain Damage - Significant Settlement
The Claimant sustained very severe brain damage, leading to spastic tetraparesis, worse on the right than the left. She was relatively immobile, although she had made significant improvements due to the quality and extent of her parents’ care. She was effectively dependent on others for all activities of daily living, although she could help to some extent; she had no speech, but could make sounds; she was capable of using environmental control equipment.
It was submitted to the judge that the recently improved quality of care was the cause of that improvement, and also that, the more real improvement she made, the longer she would live.
The care experts for the Claimant and for the Defendant agreed that 24-hour care, with some use of two carers, was necessary, but disagreed about one fundamental issue; how should 24 hour care be provided.
That issue had a significant effect on costing; the Claimant’s expert had costed for employment of the carers on an hourly rate whereas the Defendant's used what he called the “model” of a resident carer. If the Defendant were successful, the effect would have been that the job was significantly lower paid, and there was the likelihood that carers would be difficult to recruit and to keep. This was particularly important in the light of the family’s experience that it is necessary to pay high hourly rates in order to recruit suitable quality support workers.
An additional major issue was the Defendant's assumption that local authority care was suitable, and would continue for life, wherever the family choose to live. This is an issue which some care experts did raise in those days, but it was dismissed as inappropriate in most cases by the Court of Appeal in a decision called Peters v East Midlands Strategic Health Authority in 2009.
The case went to trial. 'A' was awarded a seven figure sum on a 100% basis.