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“Sophie is a happy, playful four year old. We love and cherish her like any proud parents, but sometimes it’s hard when you think how different her life may have been if she hadn’t had to go through what she did.”
Debbie Hargreaves eyes start to water somewhat as she looks with obvious pride and affection at her daughter who is walking tentatively with the aid of her Kaye walker in to the garden of their Midlands home.
The reason Sophie needs an aid to help her walk is that she has cerebral palsy. The condition also affects her speech and on occasions she chokes slightly whilst eating or drinking. It is something that not surprisingly concerns her mum and dad.
“Sophie will be completely dependent on carers throughout her life for her daily living activities. She will need adapted accommodation, aids and equipment and though we are here for her now, we can’t help but worry for her when she becomes more independent, and looking further ahead, when John and are gone we just want to know she will be okay. That is why we have been so grateful for the support of Clare.”
Clare Langford a solicitor specialising in supporting families who have suffered through clinical negligence has helped the Hargreaves family in securing financial support for Sophie as she grows.
“Sophie has a life expectancy of around 70,” explains Clare who works for Head Injury UK (HIUK). “But she will require a great deal of support throughout her life to enable her to live as independently as possible. Unfortunately the cost of such support can be incredibly high.”
Clare became involved with the Hargreaves family after Sophie was diagnosed. At first the family were what they described as “in a state of shock” and didn’t know where to turn. It was a local support group who suggested they get in touch with Clare.
“We weren’t even thinking about money or compensation or anything like that. We just wanted to know what had happened to our daughter and what was going to happen to her as she grew up,” explains Debbie.
“Clare was fantastic. She gave us more information on cerebral palsy and told us she would work to find out exactly what had happened. It was reassuring to know that we had someone on our side at what was an extremely confusing and upsetting time.”
Based on her experience in handling such complex cases, Clare first obtained copies of all of Debbie’s medical records. Expert medical advisers were then instructed.
“I initially instructed a Consultant Obstetrician to consider the issues of breach of duty,” states Clare. “I had identified two main areas, the first being the pre-natal counselling, the second relating to the management in the later stages of labour.”
During this time, Clare applied for Legal Aid for the family. This was granted, meaning the case could be investigated at no cost to the Hargreaves family and importantly, no deductions from their compensation would be required.
The expert evidence gathered by Clare and her team led to a letter of claim being sent to the Health Authority which identified key issues occurring before, during and immediately after Sophie’s birth that experts believed were the direct cause of Sophie’s condition.
Based on that submission, an early admission of liability was obtained from the NHS Trust and an interim payment of £350,000 to assist the family with immediate expenses was agreed.
“This wasn’t about money per se,” states John Hargreaves. “It is about recognising what happened and securing Sophie’s future. We are grateful to Clare that she has helped us address both of those issues.”
Clare Langford is happy that she has been able to help the Hargreaves at least start to come to terms with what has been a traumatic time for the family, but she knows it is only the start of a much longer process.
”It is intended, that once accommodation expert evidence has been obtained, an application for a more significant interim payment to cover the cost of purchasing a new property will be considered.
“A case manager has been appointed and has prepared an immediate needs report and the interim funds are being used to put in hand the purchase of essential equipment and to provide care and assistance and therapies.
“These are all much needed practical items which will go towards providing Sophie with a much more fulfilling and independent life, and having that security in place has helped the Hargreaves come to terms with what has happened to their daughter.”
Based on their considerable experience, the team at HIUK estimate that the Hargreaves’ case will go on to include a claim for future care, loss of earnings, accommodation, mobility aids, assistive technology, equipment and treatment costs.
“The claim is likely to be settled on the basis of a Periodical Payments Order, for care costs at the very least,” explains Clare Langford. “There is however likely to be a significant final capital sum. On a capitalised basis the claim is currently valued at £8 million.”
These figures are extremely high, almost too high for Debbie Hargreaves to comprehend at this stage. But one thing she is clear on is the gratitude she has for Clare and her team in ensuring her daughter has the very best opportunity to make the most of her life.
“Sophie will require lots of support throughout her life we know that. What Clare has done is given us the security of knowing she will get that support. That is invaluable and we are so grateful to Clare for everything she has done for us and our incredible daughter.”
David went to see his GP complaining of a severe headache, temperature and photophobia. The GP diagnosed an ear infection and no further investigations were arranged. The following morning David was fond by his wife in a coma. He was rushed to hospital and diagnosed as suffering from pneumococcal meningitis. Sadly, as a result of the meningitis David lost his vision.
Elizabeth was the pillion on a motorcycle when she was injured in a motorcycle accident claim accident. Elizabeth was 22 years old when she was in the accident. . She suffered a severe head injury causing problems with vision, speech and hearing and an increased risk of epilepsy. As a result of the accident Elizabeth experienced a significant personality change, with her family noticing she was more short tempered. Head Injury UK expert solicitors took care of arranging Elizabeth private medical treatment and counselling to help her obtain maximum recovery from her brain injury.
Helen was admitted to hospital but assessed as non critical and left on a trolley in a corridor whilst a bed was awaited. Tragically Helen started to choke and suffered respiratory arrest. Her condition went unnoticed for around 30 minutes until a passing paramedic noticed she was unresponsive. Attempts were made to resuscitate Jane but she had suffered a hypoxic brain injury, caused by the brain being starved of oxygen. Helen is now tetraplegic and requires 24 hour nursing care.
Michael suffers from severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Michael’s parents instructed an expert cerebral palsy solicitor at Head Injury UK to investigate Michael’s condition and whether it had been caused as a result of neglect by the hospital. Legal aid was obtained to fund the investigation. Michael’s specialist solicitor obtained all the medical records and identified that during labour Michael had been in distress, evidenced by his heart rate on the CTG trace. Experts were instructed and a case was established that Michael suffered irreparable brain damage during his birth that could have been avoided if a prompt decision had been made to perform a caesarean section.
Milly suffered severe spastic cerebral palsy as a result of negligent treatment by medical professionals during the final stages of her mother’s pregnancy. Milly was showing signs of foetal distress which caused irreparable brain damage. Milly was born severely disabled and dependent upon others for care. Milly’s parents instructed Head Injury UK lawyer to investigate the treatment provided to Milly and whether the brain injury could have been avoided.
Nicola was a passenger when in a car she when the driver lost control, collided with a wall and rebounded into two parked cars. Nicola suffered a severe head injury and developed spasticity in her legs. Nicola’s family instructed a Head Injury UK solicitor to fight the case and obtain maximum compensation for Nicola. Immediately the expert solicitor set about obtaining an interim payment to allow specialist, private rehabilitation to commence. Nicola was reliant upon a wheelchair for 16 months after the accident but with intensive private physiotherapy, she regained the strength and confidence to walk again.
We know that we have been extremely fortunate to have had such a consummate PI lawyer in Andy acting on our behalf but we have also been blessed by having had his support, trust, friendship and loyalty throughout. We cannot ever thank him enough.
The compensation Nicola has received has helped her move from a tiny council flat into a massive bungalow which has been specifically adapted. It has enabled her to have a better life.
If it was not for the help of my solicitor I don't know where I would have been today. He provided a great deal of emotional support and secured compensation at various stages from the insurance company to fund my treatment and allow me to live. He was there from start to finish.
Higgs & Sons acted for us for 5 years until our daughters claim for personal injuries was finally settled. Ian remains a trustee of our daughters trust fund and we now look upon him as a friend.