If my son has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, how do I know how much compensation for permanent brain damage at birth to claim for?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

The calculation of compensation for permanent brain damage at birth is a complicated one. The major factor will be the level of disability that your son has suffered, but there are many more considerations to take into account when assessing the value of a claim for brain injuries at birth.

Issues such as your loss of amenity and your emotional trauma will have to be considered alongside the physical injuries that your son has sustained, as well as the expenses you have already incurred and those you are likely to incur in the future.

Two of the most substantial elements of a claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence are the cost of future provision of care and – if your son´s brain injuries are such that he will never be able to work – a lifetime of lost earnings. These two elements alone could amount to millions of Euros and have to be carefully calculated to ensure your son receives adequate financial support throughout his life.

However, prior to calculating how much compensation for permanent brain damage at birth to claim for, it has to be proven that your son´s injury was attributable to medical negligence. This in itself will be a complicated procedure and will involve an investigation into how your son was deprived of oxygen before his birth.

You will need to discuss with a solicitor the circumstances of your son´s birth injury, the level of care you received both before and during childbirth and the symptoms displayed by your son after he was born. Your solicitor will engage the services of independent medical experts to assess your claim for brain injuries at birth and determine whether you have a justifiable claim for compensation for permanent brain damage.

If this is the case, your solicitor will then explain to you the procedures for completing the claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence (for example, being authorised to act as a “next friend” on your son´s behalf) and start the assessment of how much compensation for permanent brain damage at birth you should be able to claim.

Although you have until your son´s eighteenth birthday to make a claim for brain injuries at birth (or longer, if your son does not have the cognitive ability at the time to represent himself), you should not delay in speaking with a solicitor. The more recent the event which led to your son sustaining brain injuries at birth, the more likely that your claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence will be settled quickly and with the least possible complications.

Depending on the level of your son´s injury and your own personal situation, it may also be advisable to discuss the prospect of interim payments in lieu of a periodic payment system being introduced in Ireland. If a structured system of compensation for permanent brain damage is introduced by the time your son´s claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence is ready to be settled, this may change the dynamics of how the value of the settlement is calculated.