Tributes to injury lawyers

Posted: 26th April 2013

A senior judge has paid tribute to the years of hard work put in by personal injury lawyers in achieving a multi-million-pound compensation pay-out for a boy who was left catastrophically disabled by a childhood bout of meningitis. After painstaking analysis of expert evidence, full liability for the boy’s injuries was ultimately accepted by the NHS.

NHS SignThe boy was a happy and health three-year-old when he contracted meningococcal meningitis. NHS lawyers conceded that there was a negligent delay by medical staff at Frimley Park Hospital in diagnosing his condition and treating him with antibiotics. Now aged 13 and incapable of doing anything for himself, his mother sacrificed her own health to care for him until it recently became too much for her and he is now looked after at a pioneering special school.

Through his mother, the boy sued the Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust which admitted liability and issued a public apology in open court. On top of a £1.5 million lump sum, the trust will pay almost £200,000-a-year - index-linked and tax free - to cover the enormous on-going costs of the boy's care.

Approving the settlement, Judge Patrick Moloney QC said: "I am grateful for the hard work done by lawyers in this case over a number of years in what was clearly a very difficult matter. Their professionalism has led to a just outcome”.

He added: “This dreadful illness has had almost the most serious effects imaginable and has reduced this boy to a person with the most limited physical and mental capabilities. I want to express particular sympathy for a mother whose healthy three-year-old boy - who had a personality, speaking and walking - was suddenly devastated by this illness. This mother cared for her boy for far longer than many people could have done; she has nothing to reproach herself with. I hope that this settlement will enable her to play a continuing role in her son's care."

The NHS Trust’s barrister stated: "It was accepted by the hospital at an early stage that the boy should have been given antibiotics earlier. It became clear in the light of expert evidence that that delay made a material contribution to his injuries. The outcome was indeed severe. This boy and his mother are entitled to an unreserved apology and, through me, the Trust gives that apology.

“I wish to pay tribute to the mother and the sacrifices she has made and will continue to make. She cared for her son for as long as she could. All the efforts she has made have clearly taken a severe toll and that should be publicly recognised. This settlement gives this boy and his family peace of mind for the future and, in that future, we wish them well”.

The boy's barrister said outside court: "This was a classic case of delayed recognition and delivery of antibiotics in a case of meningococcal meningitis.  The essence of the case is that antibiotics were given too late".