For years after Haley suffered a birth injury and developed cerebral palsy, her parents suspected that medical negligence was to blame. Our cerebral palsy claims solicitors helped the family get the answers and the financial support they needed to turn concern into hope.
Parents Abigail and Roger live with Haley, now ten years old, and her brother Charlie, nine, on a farm in North Lincolnshire. The compensation settlement from their medical negligence claim has helped them move into a bungalow that’s specially adapted to Haley’s mobility and care needs.
Haley loves being outside and spending time with the family’s horse, dog, and sheep. She love using her specialist trike and buggy to get around. Charlie may be younger but looks after Haley, supporting her if she has a seizure and helping her get up and down steps.
Therapy and rehabilitation funded by Haley’s compensation have helped her make terrific progress and overcome the challenges she’s faced. The family now has the resources to make sure Haley has the best possible quality of life.
But it wasn’t always that way. The family never got the support or answers they deserved until Anna Stacey, a partner from our Sheffield office, started fighting their corner. “We didn’t know what the future held because we were told that Haley may never walk or talk,” said Abigail.
A Difficult Birth
Abigail and Roger’s concerns started well before Haley’s due date, when Abigail developed high blood pressure which needed medication. It got worse as they approached the due date, but medical staff reassured Abigail and Roger that it was nothing to worry about.
On the day itself, at Pontefract General Infirmary, Abigail needed an induced delivery. Again, Roger thought that something was wrong – Abigail was taking a lot more anaesthetic gas and air than normal. Roger told staff in the maternity ward but they dismissed his concerned.
It was only when a new registrar appeared after a shift change that they decided that Abigail needed an emergency caesarean section. This was 12 hours into delivery, late at night. They found that Haley’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, preventing a normal delivery.
While Abigail was recovering from the C-section, Roger pulled two chairs together in the maternity ward, laid down, and cradled Haley in his arms.
The ordeal wasn’t over, however. Haley stopped breathing in the morning and was rushed to intensive care. She spent two weeks there, suffering seizures and covered in blisters. To this day, Abigail and Roger still don’t know what caused the blisters.
They couldn’t hold or touch Haley for several days while she lay in an incubator. But there was a nurse who barely left Haley’s side – Abigail credits her with saving Haley’s life.
Abigail and Roger heard little from the hospital about Haley’s birth after they took her home. They had various post-natal check-ups and appointments, but they all seemed routine. Abigail and Roger just thought that Haley was a small baby who needed a bit of extra care and attention.
Then they got a letter through the door a few months later. It said that Haley had cerebral palsy. No meetings, no phone call, no warning – just a letter.
“At the beginning we weren’t concerned,” said Roger, “but when we got the diagnosis that really kicked us into gear a bit.” As time went on, the couple’s experiences in hospital played on their mind and they began to suspect that the care they’d received was substandard.
They were told that Haley may never walk or talk and may be permanently paralysed on her right-hand side. She was diagnosed with epilepsy shortly afterwards too.
A Reassuring Visit
Abigail and Roger decided to seek legal help when Haley was three – two and half years after her diagnosis – on the recommendation of their friends. They accessed Haley and Abigail’s medical records, which raised further questions about the care they’d received and the decisions that medical staff were making. This gave them the drive to find answers.
“When we asked for a firm everyone popped up with Irwin Mitchell,” said Roger, “It’s a waste of time going with anybody else, really”.
They got in touch and Anna Stacey took on their case. She arranged to visit Haley’s family at their home and they were reassured straight away. Abigail knew that some families affected by cerebral palsy never get the support they need but Anna put her at ease.
Anna investigated that care that Abigail and Haley had received, both during the delivery and the antenatal appointments.
Seven Years Later
Cerebral palsy claims can take a long time, but Anna’s been with the family the whole time and they finally have their full compensation settlement. “We miss Anna a bit now!” said Roger.
We helped Haley access the specialist therapies she needed while her claim continued and she’s made remarkable progress. She even defied the doctor’s original diagnosis to take her first independent steps at the age of four-and-a-half. Since then, she’s continued to go from strength to strength.
“Haley has not had the easiest of starts to life due to her cerebral palsy, but she doesn’t let anything stop her from achieving what she wants. She is a great example of not allowing physical barriers to restrict her in life,” said Anna. “She is such an inspirational youngster who is showing how to get the very best out of life, and we are so pleased to be able to help the family access a range of therapies to support her.”
“She’s so happy, smiling all the time,” adds Abigail. “It’s all for Haley, it’s her life.”
Learn more about making a cerebral palsy compensation claim