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Many clinical negligence victims are put off claiming compensation by the prospect of having to relive their agony in court. However, such concerns are generally misplaced as the vast majority of cases are settled long before trial.
One typical case involved a boy who was starved of oxygen during his traumatic delivery in an ambulance whilst travelling between hospitals. After his family set in train a claim for compensation on his behalf, negotiations yielded a complete admission of liability by an NHS trust before proceedings had even been formally issued.
Attempts to deliver the boy at a small hospital had been complicated and midwives had decided to move his mother to a larger, consultant-led hospital some distance away. The ambulance did not make it in time and, after he was delivered in a lay-by, his heart did not start beating for several minutes. His life was narrowly saved, but he suffered brain damage that has left him seriously disabled for life.
Various allegations of negligence were made in a claim form issued at the High Court by the boy's lawyers, but such matters became academic when the relevant NHS trust accepted liability in full at an early stage. All that remains is to assess the amount of the boy's compensation, which is almost certain to be a seven-figure sum given the extent of his future care needs.