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At Boyes Turner we specialise in helping families whose babies have suffered severe brain injury, either through avoidable birth trauma or medical negligence during their neonatal care.

The jaundice-related injuries that we see arise from damage to the brain in newborn babies whose high bilirubin levels were not correctly monitored and treated, leading to long term brain damage from a condition called kernicterus.

We are a leading specialist brain injury law firm. The partners each have 20 years’ experience of working for clients with severe brain and head injuries. Our dedicated team of injury lawyers are able to provide advice and assistance through our high levels of legal expertise and links with brain injury associations and those providing brain injury rehabilitation and support.

How can Boyes Turner help?

Our brain injury lawyers are specialists in achieving high value compensation awards for children with brain damage whether they have kernicterus through jaundice, cerebral palsy, disability from birth trauma, neonatal injury or permanent neurological damage caused by negligent medical treatment.

Our experienced lawyers have made many successful kernicterus brain injury claims for children and their families, whether that injury arose from negligent treatment in hospital, on the neonatal unit, or at home (following home birth or discharge from the community midwives).

We aim to achieve early admissions of liability and interim payments to alleviate the financial hardship that often follows a family member’s brain injury. This helps our client families to meet their child’s immediate needs for specialist equipment, therapies, adapted accommodation, special educational support and care. Each settlement is calculated and negotiated following detailed, expert assessment of the child’s condition to ensure the best provision for their present and future needs.

Previous Cases

$23 million damages settlement for a child who suffered kernicterus brain damage from untreated jaundice in the first few days of his life. Our client has cerebral palsy, problems with communication, impaired vision and deafness. His compensation was calculated to reflect the costs of meeting his needs arising from his disability in the USA, where he now resides. Interim payments of £1,350,000 were obtained to meet his urgent needs whilst the claim was ongoing.

£7 million settlement for a child whose kernicterus brain injury was caused by delayed referral to hospital for treatment for neonatal jaundice. The brain injury led to dyskinetic cerebral palsy and severe neurological disability, impaired feeding and swallowing, and hearing loss.

Liability (fault) judgment for a client who suffered kernicterus brain damage leading to cerebral palsy after hospital staff failed to treat his rising bilirubin levels in the neonatal (newborn) period after his birth. The hospital admitted liability for our client’s injury. Judgment and interim payments were obtained, and the case put on hold until our client is old enough for his future needs to be accurately assessed. 

Out of court compensation settlement for a child who suffered a brain injury when the post-natal midwives failed to diagnose neonatal jaundice. Following discharge from hospital he developed hyperbilirubinaemia and kernicterus damage to his brain. 

Compensation settlement for a baby who suffered a kernicterus brain injury from delayed phototherapy treatment for neonatal jaundice after his premature birth.

What is kernicterus?

Kernicterus is a dangerous, but preventable, complication of jaundice in which the baby suffers brain damage. Kernicterus occurs when the baby’s bilirubin levels have been allowed to rise to dangerous levels through inadequate monitoring or delayed treatment of hyperbilirubinaemia.

If the liver is struggling to metabolise all the bilirubin in the baby’s bloodstream, the unprocessed or unconjugated bilirubin can travel through the blood-brain barrier where it causes irreversible damage to the brain and spinal cord, permanent neurological disability and dysfunction. This is known as bilirubin encephalopathy. The pattern of damage and its characteristic yellow staining of the brain is known as kernicterus.

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Who is at risk of kernicterus?

  • Premature babies

  • Full term babies with excessive levels of bilirubin in their blood (hyperbilirubinaemia)

  • Babies whose bilirubin levels are above the treatment threshold and are rising rapidly

Increased risk factors for hyperbilirubinaemia include:

  • Newborn babies who develop jaundice within the first 24 hours

  • Babies whose siblings have suffered from hyperbilirubinaemia

  • Babies who are solely breast-fed

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How can kernicterus be prevented?

Kernicterus can be prevented by:

  • awareness of the risks

  • early recognition of the signs of jaundice

  • careful monitoring of the condition including, if in a home setting, advising parents to call for help if they notice any deterioration

  • if the bilirubin reaches threshold levels for treatment, the baby will need phototherapy treatment or an exchange transfusion.

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What is jaundice?

Jaundice is a common condition which is closely related to kernicterus and is the name that is given to the initial signs of excess bilirubin in the blood. These signs can include:

  • yellow discolouration of the baby’s skin

  • yellow discolouration of the whites of the baby’s eyes

  • dark stained urine which is visible in the nappy

  • stools which are pale and chalky rather than the usual yellowish brown

Jaundice affects 60% of full term babies and 80% of premature babies in their first week of life.  It is often harmless and usually lasts up to two weeks. Babies who are exclusively breast fed are at greater risk, with 10% still having jaundice at one month of age.

Even though jaundice is usually transient and harmless, babies with jaundice must be diagnosed, carefully monitored and properly treated to avoid the development of kernicterus.

Jaundice can also be a sign that the baby is suffering from another serious condition which is affecting the liver’s ability to process the bilirubin, such as:

  • liver disease

  • infection

  • sepsis

  • metabolic disorder

  • sickle cell anaemia

  • enzyme deficiencies

  • rhesus disease (incompatibility between the mother’s and baby’s blood groups)

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What are the signs of kernicterus brain damage?

Some of the early signs that the baby’s brain is being damaged include:

  • the baby doesn’t respond to stimulus, e.g. hands clapping in front of them

  • poor feeding

  • floppiness (decreased muscle tone)

  • fits (seizures)

  • arching of the spine

Longer term permanently disabling effects of kernicterus brain damage include:

  • cerebral palsy

  • learning disability

  • impaired hearing

  • impaired eye movements

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Is Legal Aid available for kernicterus brain damage claims?

If your child suffered severe neurological injury, such as kernicterus brain damage or cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence before birth, at birth or during the first eight weeks of life, they may be eligible for Legal Aid, depending on our assessment of the strength of each individual case.

Legal Aid is often available for kernicterus brain damage cases as they usually arise from negligent management of the baby’s bilirubin levels in the early neonatal period. 

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What shall I do now?

Call us on the number below, get in touch using our quick contact form or email us at for quick, friendly advice with no obligation.

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Meet your team

Susan Brown photo

Susan Brown


Julie Marsh headshot

Julie Marsh


Richard Money-Kyrle headshot

Richard Money-Kyrle


Sita Soni photo

Sita Soni

Senior Associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand photo

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Tara Byrne photo

Tara Byrne

Associate - Solicitor

Rachel Makore headshot

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana headshot

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Ben Ireland headshot

Ben Ireland


Audrey Elmore headshot

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Nicky Melville headshot

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

Susan Brown photo
Julie Marsh headshot
Richard Money-Kyrle headshot
Sita Soni photo
Vanessa Wand photo
Tara Byrne photo
Rachel Makore headshot
Alpa Rana headshot
Fran Rothwell
Ben Ireland headshot
Audrey Elmore headshot
Nicky Melville headshot

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Kernicterus cases

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Awards & Accreditations

Our teams have been nationally recognised over the past decade for their dedication and commitment to securing maximum compensation for our clients

             Brake | The Road Safety Charity

What our clients say

Our clients constantly recognize us as the most experienced, professional, efficient and supportive

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"Julie Marsh is a first rate litigator"

Julie Marsh is a first rate litigator who adds real value to all her cases. I have always been impressed not just by her expertise as a clinical negligence lawyer but by the way she treats every client as an individual and works on their case as if it is the most important thing in the world, which to many clients it really is.

King's Counsel

"You have given fantastic support and guidance"

Boyes Turner have a great asset in Julie Marsh, she has handled my case with such professionalism and has kept me informed at every stage over the 6 years. She has given me guidance, support and that personal touch where I could ring or email at any time and she would always answer and give me answers to any questions I had. Would recommend without hesitation. Thank you

Boyes Turner Client

"I have been impressed"

Tara Byrne kept me well informed at all stages of my claim. I have been impressed with the way my case was handled, and the time scale within which a settlement was reached.”

Boyes Turner Client

"Very Professional "

Boyes Turner helped me through one of the toughest times in my life. They were very professional whilst remaining friendly. At times the process was emotionally tough but they were very patient with me and went through everything with me until I understood it. I cannot recommend them enough. 

Boyes Turner Client

"We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough"

Words cannot express how grateful we are to Susan and her team for the level of commitment and dedication shown to our family during a time which would be difficult for anyone. Susan demonstrates a calm professional manner which helped us to feel at ease. Her level of knowledge has proven to be the best in the field and we fully recommend her to anyone seeking to investigate birth injury claims. You can be confident that Susan and her team will scrutinise the medical notes thoroughly and will keep you well informed throughout the process. We are very pleased with the outcome of our child’s case and know that her work has resulted in justice being achieved. Our family will now be able to move forward in the knowledge that the finances are securely in place for our child to receive a suitable care package, purchase equipment and receive necessary lifelong therapy. We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough.

Boyes Turner Client