How do I claim failure to recognise meningitis compensation if my son suffered brain damage due a misdiagnosis of his symptoms?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

If you wish to claim failure to recognise meningitis compensation on behalf of your son, the procedure is quite straightforward. However, you will need to engage the services of a solicitor as you cannot process a failure to recognise meningitis claim for compensation through the Injuries Board Ireland and, should you encounter any legal challenge to your son´s claim, the solicitor´s experience in dealing with legal issues will be invaluable – indeed essential should litigation of your son´s claim be required in court.

The first step is to be accepted as your son´s “next friend” – the legal term for a parent or guardian taking legal action on behalf of a child. Provided that you have “no interest in the matters in question in these proceedings adverse to that of the minor”, your solicitor will apply to the District Court for you to represent your son in a claim for compensation for failing to recognise meningitis. By completing Form: 7.1 “Authorisation by next friend / guardian ad litem of a minor”, you also agree to be responsible for any financial liabilities that may result from the claim.

Thereafter, your solicitor would send a Letter of Claim to the hospital or medical practitioner who is considered liable for the misdiagnosis of your son´s symptoms. It is unlikely at this stage that your solicitor would mention how much compensation for failing to recognise meningitis you would be entitled to or you are claiming, as the full extent of your son´s brain damage and the consequences of the misdiagnosis may not yet be known.

In addition to failure to recognise meningitis compensation for your son´s brain damage injury, he would also be entitled to compensation to provide for future care requirements, loss of employment opportunities and loss of amenity – the lack of ability to perform day-to-day activities by himself and enjoy a full and active independent life as he grows older. As soon as it is practically possible, your solicitor will inform you how much compensation for failing to recognise meningitis your son should be entitled to receive.

As the value of a claim for the failure to recognise meningitis compensation may not be known for some time, it is important that you are wary of any direct approach made to you by the hospital´s insurers or an insurance company representing the medical practitioner accused of negligence. Because of the potential value of failure to recognise meningitis compensation, an insurance company may attempt to get you to agree to a low offer of compensation in return for a quick settlement.

If you require funds to pay for your son´s medical or education needs, and the offer seems tempting to you, speak at once to your solicitor. It will be possible for your solicitor to apply to the court for interim payments of compensation to be paid to you as the child´s “next friend” until such time as your son´s claim for compensation for failing to recognise meningitis is resolved.

Once an agreement has been reached over the value of your son´s claim, the settlement of compensation for failing to recognise meningitis has to be approved by a judge before it is paid into court funds – where it will remain until your son reaches the age of eighteen. Similar to the interim payments of compensation you may have received, withdrawals can be made from the compensation fund provided that they are for educational or medical needs.

As it may be in your son´s best interest to proceed with a failure to recognise meningitis claim for compensation as soon as possible, you are advised to speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.