Irwin Mitchell’s serious injury experts secured the maximum award under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority’s scheme for a young girl assaulted by her parents.
We were asked by the London Borough of Ealing Council in January 2011 to act for Isabel, then 8 years old. Isabel had been subjected to an assault at the hands of her parents in July 2002 – her breathing had been deliberately restricted and she had also suffered fractures to her legs, arms and ribs.
As a result of the attack, Isabel was left severely disabled. She had cerebral palsy in all four limbs with spastic quadriplegia. She suffered from epilepsy and was blind. Isabel was also wheelchair dependent and fed via a tube into her stomach. She remained in nappies and was dependent on others for all of her care needs on a 24 hour basis.
Before we were contacted, the Council’s legal team had been dealing with Isabel’s Criminal Injuries Compensation claim and had lodged an application on her behalf back in October 2002. By that time, Isabel had been placed with long-term foster carers who were experienced in dealing with severely disabled children. It was anticipated that she would remain with the family for the foreseeable future.
At the time of our instruction, the Criminal Compensation Authority (CICA) had agreed that Isabel was entitled to £200,000 for her injuries and their consequences. They had also agreed an award for her future loss of earnings. However, the CICA argued that all of Isabel’s care needs were being met and would continue to be met by statutory services via payments to her foster carers for the care they provided and via provision of equipment by the NHS. They therefore refused to make any further awards for future care on a private basis, and valued the claim at a total of £250,000.
24 hour support
We asked an expert in care to visit Isabel and produce a report outlining her current and future care needs. The report highlighted that Isabel ideally required 24 hour support from two carers, at an estimated cost of £201,000 per year, as well as identifying equipment and accommodation needs.
Given Isabel’s severe developmental delay, it was established that she would require a Trust to administer her award until she reached the age of 18, after which time she would require the services of the Court of Protection, including the appointment of a professional Deputy. Costs were calculated for this.
Isabel’s potential losses
A letter showing Isabel’s potential losses (over £5 million) together with the care report was submitted to the CICA in July 2012. Following further submissions, the CICA agreed in September 2013 that Isabel’s claim warranted the maximum award under the scheme of £500,000.
The legal costs associated with Irwin Mitchell acting on Isabel's behalf were £7,000, and a further £4,300 for the care assessment and report. A Trust is now to be set up to protect and administer Isabel’s award.
Throughout, we received instructions from the Local Authority legal team in respect of the application, and they were updated with progress as appropriate.
Serious injury solicitor Kate Petchey said of the claim: “It was important in this case that Isabel used an experienced solicitor to manage her CICA claim, as the Local Authority who were responsible for her care were in a position of possible conflict, given that the CICA were arguing they would or should be able to meet her needs for life. It was equally important to minimise the cost to Isabel, in order to reduce the amount of legal costs she would pay from her compensation on conclusion of the claim”.
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