On the final day of Cerebral Palsy Awareness week, we profile the financial support given to our clients to investigate a potential claim for damages. Without this funding option, many families would be without access to justice despite negligent care.
The form and provision of legal aid has gone through many changes over the last few decades. One of the most significant changes is the restriction to the availability of legal aid from 1 April 2013. Legal aid is no longer available to pursue medical negligence claims with the exception of babies who suffer neurological injury during pregnancy, at birth or during the first eight weeks of their life leaving them “severely disabled”. Although this limits the claims that would qualify, the support offered to those families exploring claims of this nature is crucial.
Only a small proportion of babies diagnosed with cerebral palsy will be as a result of negligent care or treatment. However, given that these injuries can be severe and permanent, the Legal Aid Agency continues to recognise that financial support is needed to explore whether or not a claim can be brought. Compensation can be life-changing and enable families to meet the costs of much needed treatment, care, accommodation and equipment.
Although other funding options are available, a legal aid certificate often remains the most appropriate funding method for these high value and expensive claims. It remains the case that a certificate is only granted if the prospects of success look reasonable and the claimant is financial eligible.
Not all solicitors specialise in medical negligence claims or legal aid. Penningtons has a long history of expertise in this area with a large team specialising in birth injury claims. We guide families through the litigation and funding process which includes dealing with applications for legal aid at the outset. An initial telephone call can determine the funding options open to a family to include the option of legal aid.
Although the scope of legal aid has been limited recently, it continues to provide vital support to families where a child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.