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Written on 26th January 2018

Boyes Turner’s specialist birth injury lawyers have negotiated a £1.4 million settlement for a young woman who suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth. Our client’s case had previously been investigated by another firm of solicitors when she was six years old. They had discontinued investigations on the claim, which they valued at £6,000, on basis that the case would be too difficult to prove. 14 years later, when the adult* claimant was old enough to do so, she instructed Boyes Turner’s clinical negligence team to investigate her claim.

We obtained the medical records relating to the birth, which were of poor quality and inaccurate. The midwife’s contemporaneous records minimised the difficulties she encountered at delivery owing to the claimant’s shoulder dystocia (a condition in which the baby’s head has been delivered but delivery of the anterior shoulder is then obstructed). The resultant injury was only noted by the paediatrician during the baby’s pre-discharge check. In contrast to the midwife’s account of the delivery, in recalling the events from 20 years ago, the claimant’s mother and grandmother both remembered the baby being “yanked” out by the midwife when her shoulder became stuck and the midwife refusing assistance. 

We served a letter of claim on the defendant hospital. The claim alleged negligence by the midwife for failing to apply suprapubic pressure (a recognised procedure in cases of shoulder dystocia), call an obstetric registrar or change the claimant’s position, and for applying excessive traction during the delivery. The defendant admitted the alleged negligence and accepted that the midwife’s failure to apply excessive traction had caused the claimant’s Erb’s palsy. Proceedings were issued and we entered judgment on liability.  

The claimant has been left with restricted movement of her right arm, an upturned palm, difficulty dressing, showering, brushing her hair, cooking and carrying items. She lacks confidence in social situations, has difficulty using a computer and is unable to live independently without assistance.

Boyes Turner’s specialist lawyers are highly experienced in helping people who have suffered severe  disability as a result of medical negligence. We work hard to understand their needs and are skilled in accurately quantifying their claims. Having secured judgment on liability, we worked closely with our client and experts in assistive technology and physiotherapy to quantify the impact of her disability, her loss of earnings and future needs. At £1.4 million, her compensation award is the largest reported settlement of its kind.

*A child who has suffered injury through negligence has until their 21st birthday to issue court proceedings in their claim, failing which they will lose their right to bring their claim. If they lack mental capacity, the limitation deadline does not apply. There are other limited circumstances in which the limitation deadline might be extended, at the discretion of the court.