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Children suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome could be in line for compensation

A test case that went through the courts earlier this year and is being heard again in the Court of Appeal this month, may mean that more than 80 children who have been affected by Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) could receive compensation for their injuries.
The case was prompted by a child who was taken into care after being born with FAS. His mother’s alcohol use caused him to be born with damage to his brain and facial disfigurement. Alongside the physical effects of FAS, the six-year-old boy also has learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural needs.
His mother had been warned of the damage that her excessive alcohol use would have on her child, but she continued to drink heavily throughout her pregnancy. As a result, the council brought this test case on behalf of her child to see if the court would rule that she had committed a violent crime against her child.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) compensates the victims of violent crime and the local authority was seeking compensation through this avenue. A tribunal found that the mother had effectively poisoned her child, as she had ignored all of the advice given to her and had carried on with her excessive drinking.
The CICA was granted a judicial review and this decision was overturned as the judge felt there was no basis in the law to commit a crime against an unborn child. However, the CICA changed the scope of their compensation awards to include damage caused by a child exposed to harmful substances whilst in the womb.A child with FAS will almost certainly have complex needs and would therefore benefit from any amount of compensation that would allow them to seek treatment, which could help to provide them with a better quality of life.
The Court of Appeal will make its ruling this month.
As this test case reveals, personal injury law can be complex, requiring the sensitivity and expertise of a trusted injury lawyer. If you need confidential advice regarding any of the issues raised in this test case, give us a call on 01302 320621.

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