A young girl who was left severely brain damaged after complications during her birth has been awarded a seven-figure sum in compensation.
Ella Franklin, now 11, was starved of oxygen when problems arose during her mother’s labour. As a result, she is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy. She now requires around-the-clock care and will never be able to lead an independent life.
When a claim was brought against Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, it admitted liability and agreed to pay substantial damages to compensate Ella for her pain and suffering.
The settlement, which has been agreed by the High Court, comprises a lump sum plus annual index-linked payments and will cover the cost of Ella’s care for the rest of her life. Although the exact amount was not disclosed, it is likely to be several million pounds.
Mr Justice Griffith Williams praised Ella’s family and said, “I have no doubt that the burden has been lessened by the obvious love and affection they have for Ella, but this is yet another case where I have to say that I am so impressed by the resilience of people in what, at times, must appear to be dreadful adversity.”
A person under the age of 18 cannot bring a personal injury claim as they lack legal capacity. Claims relating to minors must therefore be brought on their behalf by an adult, usually a parent. Whereas there is usually a three-year time limit from the date of the accident within which to make a claim, in cases involving children the limitation period does not start until the child reaches the age of 18. This means that should he or she wish to take action with regard to a childhood injury, the claim will be in time provided court proceedings are commenced before the claimant’s 21st birthday.
Personal injury cases are often complex and can therefore take a long time to settle. In cases such as this, the length of the litigation process will depend on the age of the child and the seriousness of the injuries suffered. In many cases, the appropriate amount of compensation payable cannot be determined until the long-term effects of the injury can be accurately assessed.