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Securing an interim payment in a Cerebral Palsy claim

Category: Birth Injuries

Last Updated: 13th Sep 2021

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Medical Negligence Solicitor and Partner - LLB (Hons) University College London

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Serious and complex birth injury claims can take a long time to reach a settlement, even when liability has been resolved.

For example, if a child is born with Cerebral Palsy or another brain injury, it could be many years before the full extent of their disability can be determined. This can mean a long wait before the full value of the claim can be determined, as the future needs for care, physiotherapy, accommodation and more can only then be calculated.

The delay until final settlement can leave the affected child and their family in a difficult position. The child may require specialist aids and equipment. They may need access to therapies and treatments to lessen the impact of their disability. The family home is unlikely to be suitable to raise someone with Cerebral Palsy, and the child may require round-the-clock care.

This all costs money. That is why it is important to apply for an interim payment whenever one is available. Obtaining an interim payment relieves the burden on families. It allows them to set up a care regime that works for them, move to more suitable accommodation and start beneficial therapies and treatments.

Below we explain what interim payments are, when a claimant can apply for one, and the benefits they offer to families in challenging circumstances.

What are interim payments?

An interim payment is a payment made on account of the compensation to be paid by the defendant to the claimant while the full value of the claim is being quantified. This sum can vary significantly from case to case, depending on the estimated final settlement.

Interim payments can be applied for in any medical negligence claim. However, they are most commonly used in the following circumstances:

  1. It is expected to take a long time to reach final settlement, such as birth injury claims where a full understanding of a child’s disability or prognosis cannot be determined until they are older.

  2. A form of treatment is recommended for the claimant which, depending on the outcome, may influence the amount of compensation that is granted. For example, if a surgery might prevent the claimant from becoming wheelchair-bound – if the surgery is carried out before settlement, then there is certainty as to the outcome for both parties.

Any interim payment awarded during the course of the claim will be deducted from the total compensation awarded at the end of proceedings.

When can you apply for an interim payment?

To obtain an interim payment, the defendant must either admit liability or be found liable for some harm caused to the claimant, or the Court must consider it very likely that the defendant will be found liable.

In some cases, a split trial might be requested. This splits the court proceedings into two parts – the first hearing establishes whether the defendant is liable. If the defendant is found liable, a second hearing is held to quantify the claim. This approach can help ensure that the claimant has access to interim payments.

How do you apply for an interim payment?

It is usual to ask the defendant to consent to making an interim payment. The request can be made before or after court proceedings have been started. However, if the claimant is a child, the Court must approve it, and so Court proceedings will usually be issued at that stage.

If a defendant does not agree to make an interim payment or does not agree to the sum requested as an interim payment, the claimant may make an application to the Court. Documentary evidence, such as witness statements and medical reports, will often be provided to explain why the payment is required.

If the claimant is a child or protected party, the permission of the Court must be obtained and a Deputy will often be appointed by the Court of Protection to administer the interim payment. This helps ensure that the money is used to support the claimant’s requirements and is not mishandled.

The claimant does not have to state exactly what the interim payment will be used for before it is granted. Nonetheless, where the defendant does not agree to an interim payment for whatever reason, clarifying this can help to justify the request to the Court, and may even persuade the defendant to change their mind.

There is no limit to the number of interim payments that can be made prior to the final settlement being reached. This is useful in situations where it will take a long time to determine the full extent of a child’s disability, or if the claimant’s condition unexpectedly changes during the course of the claim.

However, it is important to remember that each interim payment will be deducted from the final compensation awarded.

The benefits of interim payments in Cerebral Palsy claims

The symptoms and effects of Cerebral Palsy can vary greatly. There may be some or complete difficulty with mobility, speech problems, learning difficulties, skeletal problems, loss of vision and hearing loss.

As it may take several years for a final settlement to be reached, interim payments provide the claimant’s family with the funds they need to support the affected child’s development in their earliest years. While each family’s circumstances are unique, these interim payments often cover the costs of:

  • Hiring a professional case manager to manage and coordinate the claimant’s care and therapy package, consult with architects, etc.

  • Adaptations to the family home – stairlifts, ramps, wet rooms, hoist systems, garages, increased storage space, etc.

  • Hiring live-in care assistants to provide full-time care to the claimant

  • Aids and equipment such as wheelchairs, assistive technology and special seating

  • Treatments and therapies to maximise mobility and minimise discomfort – physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, speech and language therapy, corrective surgeries, etc.

  • The salary of the Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection

  • Additional holiday and travel expenses

These payments do not only benefit the quality of life of the claimant, but also their family. It’s hard to overstate the responsibility of looking after a child with Cerebral Palsy. Without these payments, the struggle that parents face could dramatically compromise their quality of life, or the level of care and attention they can provide to their other children.

Interim payments relieve the financial pressure parents may be under, and with their child’s care requirements assured, it frees up time for themselves and all of their children. They can focus on being parents rather than carers.

Additionally, these payments enable families to find a ‘new normal’ that works for them. Each family’s situation is unique to them, and these resources may help them settle on care plans, therapies and accommodation that meets their child’s needs, allowing them to live as comfortably as possible.

Furthermore, once a comfortable setup has been established, it can be used to demonstrate exactly what support the claimant requires moving forward. This helps ensure that the final settlement meets their future requirements, empowering those affected to make their lives as straightforward and fulfilling as possible.

For more information on how compensation benefits children and families affected by Cerebral Palsy, read this helpful guide.

Specialist advice in birth injury claims

We hope that this has provided a good insight into interim payments and how they can support claimants during proceedings. In birth injury claims, such as where the claimant is suffering with Cerebral Palsy, these payments can offer much-needed assistance to a family with reassurance that their wellbeing will be cared for while the final settlement is determined.

At Gadsby Wicks, we pride ourselves on delivering expert, end-to-end support for our clients which includes obtaining an interim payment as early as possible whenever they are appropriate. Our solicitors devote the time and attention necessary to investigate your case, apply for interim payments where required, and build a watertight case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Get in touch today to discuss your situation.

Disclaimer

All content contained within this article is meant for general information only – this should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. If you require legal advice specific to your situation, please contact our team directly.

Gadsby Wicks is not liable for any diagnosis made from the content of this article, nor does it endorse any service or external site linked to within the article.

Always consult your GP if you are concerned about your health and wellbeing, or speak to us if you require legal advice.