Specialist Medical Negligence Lawyers Secure Settlement For Rehabilitation and 24-hour Care
The family of a 13-year-old boy who suffered a severe brain injury at birth when his blood sugar levels were not checked despite him displaying clear warning signs of the condition have won a High Court battle and secured a lifetime care settlement.
Ben Harman was born at Kent & Canterbury Hospital in April 2002 but he was underweight and floppy. He was suffering from low blood sugars but despite displaying the correct criteria for the tests under NHS protocol, staff failed to perform any blood glucose tests until two days after his birth when his condition had deteriorated further.
Ben was finally discharged home on 17 April but his parents were given no warning about him having potentially suffered a hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) injury. His parents were concerned about his development over the first years of life as he was very far behind where his older brother had been at a similar age, but his birth injury was not explained to his parents until 2006 – some four years later.
The family instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care after they became aware that mistakes may have been made during his birth.
After being faced with legal action East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust initially denied it had caused Ben’s injuries before ultimately admitting in July 2013 that they were responsible. Despite this admission they failed to negotiate a settlement to cover his care and rehabilitation forcing Irwin Mitchell to bring the case to the High Court.
Mr Justice Turner has now ruled in Ben’s favour although the family await the details of the total award. The award will, however, be several million pounds as a lump sum and annual payments for the rest of his life.
Ben suffers from severe autism and learning difficulties and will likely require constant supervision and 24-hour care for his lifetime.
As well as his care and rehabilitation, the settlement, to be managed by Irwin Mitchell’s expert Court of Protection team, will also cover the costs of specialist equipment and adaptations to a home more suitable for his needs.
Expert Opinion"We are pleased to have secured Ben and his family a fair and significant settlement which will provide the peace of mind they need that Ben’s care and rehabilitation will be secure for the rest of his life.
“The severe brain injury caused by mistakes at Ben’s birth has left him with complex needs and this settlement has been carefully calculated to reflect exactly what Ben requires to ultimately live as independent a life as possible.
“However, it is disappointing that all throughout the case the NHS Trust has dragged its heels. The Trust did not advise the family of what had happened to Ben and what caused his developmental problems. The Trust’s legal advisors denied any wrongdoing until they were forced to disclose the evidence they were relying on. They did not want to do this and even after that the NHS Litigation Authority refused to enter negotiations and forced the High Court to decide the final award. We first set out our case in August 2011 and if the NHS had been more cooperative, on what is a fairly clear cut case, the legal action could have been resolved much sooner leaving the family free to get on with their lives.” Shivi Nathan - Senior Associate Solicitor
Ben’s mother Jo Harman, 46, from Marlow, said: “Today’s court victory is a massive relief for the whole family as it means Ben will be able to receive the specialist rehabilitation, care and treatment he needs for the rest of his life. It means we will have expert support as he seeks to make progress both at school and beyond and we will be able to provide suitable accommodation and equipment to help make his life easier and more rewarding.
“It’s incredibly frustrating that all his life we have had to fight for information and answers as to what had happened to him. For six years we worried about his development without knowing what had caused the problems in the first place. We have no idea why we were never told but now we finally have some closure on what happened at his birth and we can look towards the future.”
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of birth injury, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.