Lawyers who represent negligence victims can all give examples of extraordinary devotion and bravery on the part of their clients. In a case on point, a couple who adopted a profoundly disabled little girl and cared for her until the bitter end had their selflessness rewarded by a six-figure compensation payout.
The girl was six weeks old when a delay in diagnosing meningitis after she was taken to hospital meant that she was not treated with antibiotics in time to save her from devastating brain damage. As a result, she was acutely disabled, requiring 24-hour care, but the couple stepped forward to adopt her and did everything they could to make her life a joyful one until she died at the age of ten.
The couple had no inkling before they adopted the girl that she might have a viable compensation claim against the NHS trust that ran the hospital. Following her death, however, they issued proceedings against the trust under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the trust swiftly admitted liability.
The trust's lawyer apologised unreservedly in open court for the negligence that led to the girl's disabilities. The trust agreed to pay the couple a £650,000 lump sum as some recognition of the years of care they had given the girl. That sum included £12,980 for the couple's bereavement and about £4,500 to cover the girl's funeral expenses. The High Court had no hesitation in approving the settlement.