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Childhood acquired brain injury (ABI)

As we continue with Action for Brain Injury Week, we look at childhood acquired brain injury (ABI).

When a child acquires a brain injury at birth it can have a devastating effect on the entire family.

The injury will most likely occur for reasons that are beyond the control of medical staff, such as the baby being born from a breach position or being born too early.

In other cases though, the child’s injury is an acquired brain injury (ABI) as it is the direct result of medical negligence and could have been avoided.

The injury caused by medical negligence can result in the baby suffering from cerebral palsy or Erbs Palsy – both with serious lifelong implications.

In these cases, families are often left without any support and have no idea where to turn for help.

They need to know what’s happened and how to cope.

There will be uncertain and often expensive times ahead – adaptations and equipment are not always available on the NHS.

Our team appreciates what you’re going through and will be there to help you in the most difficult of times.

How we can help

Firstly, keep in mind that you can talk to us about your options, with absolutely no obligation to take the matter any further – that will always be your choice.

If you do decide to go forward, and we think it’s something we can help with, as a first stage, we will help you get those all-important answers about why and how your child was injured.

If we can prove there was negligence, we will be able to help you get the medical and practical support you need to make life a little easier.

We will also work towards securing the financial support you need to safeguard your child’s future. As part of this, we can often negotiate interim compensation payments to help with your ongoing costs, including moving to a more suitable home, if necessary.

Families affected by childhood acquired brain injury

These are real families that we have worked with. Hopefully, these cases will help you see that whatever difficulty you are facing, however desperate you feel, you are not alone.

Child A had suffered from Athetoid, or dyskinetic cerebral palsy since birth. Her parents had always accepted her condition and so had never investigated the cause. But Child A often wondered about it and as she approached her 20th birthday, she decided that she wanted to know why she had the condition. With the help of a litigation friend, she turned to solicitors to help her investigate. Despite the incident taking place over 20 years ago, our medical negligence experts were able to establish that the likely cause of her condition was negligent failure to intubate in the early minutes of life.

Child B was born by a normal delivery at 37 weeks, following an uneventful 3rd pregnancy. At one month of age, the child was diagnosed with apnoea and hydrocephalus. Later, meningitis was diagnosis and an EVD was inserted to drain the fluid from her brain. The allegations are that the delayed diagnosis of meningitis along with the incorrect fitting of the EVD has led to permanent brain damage.

Child C was born with severe and permanent physical and mental disabilities. Allegations are that failure to interpret a pathological CTG and failure to provide any obstetric review at any time during labour resulted in a grossly prolonged labour which led to the child suffering severe brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Child D – A mismanaged caesarean delivery resulted in the child suffering major trauma to their head, including a fractured skull. As a result of the injuries the child sustained during the delivery, they now have cerebral palsy, which has grave and permanent consequences.

More cases can be found on our website 

Support Organisations

Deciding to speak to a solicitor can be a difficult decision. If you would like more information before you take that step, the following websites might help give you peace of mind:

Child Brain Injury Trust

Cerebra

 

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For abuse victims home is not a safe place

As we are all encouraged to stay at home and stay safe, we are seeing a world-wide increase in domestic abuse victims. For these people, home is definitely not a place of safety.

Shocking figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that domestic abuse killings rose by 160% during the UKs first three-week lockdown period. A total of 16 women died at the hands of their partner.

Lockdown guidance

Police have issued new guidance on social distancing, confirming that those seeking refuge from partners during a heated argument or fleeing violence can go to friends or family as an emergency temporary measure.

Legal aid

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has introduced measures to make it easier for victims of domestic abuse and child abuse to access legal aid during the lockdown:

  • No need for evidence to be submitted on headed paper
  • Additional evidence types can be submitted by email
  • Solicitors are able to confirm that police have issued a caution to the perpetrator or that they are involved in ongoing criminal proceedings relating to the abuse

The LAA says that although it welcomes the changes, there is still more that needs to be done. One such move would be to allow solicitors to be able to certify that an individual is a victim of domestic abuse.

Stacey Powney, family lawyer commented: “It’s important for victims to know that even during these exceptionally difficult times, legal support is still available, and if necessary lawyers can quickly obtain orders to protect them and their children.”

Practical support for victims

Women’s Aid has offered reassurance that all their services are running normally, despite the current situation.  Their website has a host of information, including tips on preparing to flee the home with children.

 Legal support

For confidential support and guidance from highly experienced family lawyers call 01302 320621 during office hours or email family@athertongodfrey.co.uk

National information and support services:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline (24 hrs) – 0808 2000 247

Galop – advice for LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse – 0800 999 5428

Mankind – support for male victims of domestic abuse – 0182 333 4244

 

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Why cutting legal aid is false economy

The scope of legal aid, which has been a lifeline to many thousands of people since it was introduced, was vastly reduced with the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The cost of legal aid had been running at just over £2bn each year, significantly higher than the European average of £97m. Despite very loud protests from the legal profession, at least £320m was cut from the budget – but this is a prime example of false economy.

Removing legal aid for a wide range of legal issues has meant that many, often vulnerable people have avoided taking early legal advice. Instead, they have delayed getting help until the situation escalated to the point where it could no longer be ignored; by which time it was much more serious and far more costly to resolve.

Law Society president, Christina Blacklaws, commented: “Without early advice, relatively minor legal problems can escalate, creating health, social and financial problems, placing additional pressure and cost on already stretched public services.

Anyone who can’t afford to pay for early legal advice may struggle to identify solutions, meaning simple issues spiral and can end up in court bringing unnecessary costs to the taxpayer.”

In the case of family law, which was severely hit by the cuts, the lack of legal aid for relationship breakdowns has resulted in a vast reduction in mediation referrals, which in turn has put pressure on the courts and the public purse.

The Law Society is calling for legal aid to be reinstated for early advice for housing and family cases. Christina added: “The benefits of early advice are clear. We are calling on the government to ensure justice is accessible to those who need it.”

Legal aid is still available in some cases for:

  • Birth injury resulting in child disability
  • Community care disputes
  • Debt problems
  • Education disputes
  • Discrimination claims
  • Criminal offences
  • Asylum and immigration
  • Mental health representation
  • Welfare benefit appeals to higher courts
  • Council tax reduction appeals to higher courts

If you have a legal issue and want to know if your circumstances are covered by legal aid, contact us on 01302 320621. More details can be found at www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice  or call 0345 345 4345

#JUSTICEWEEK18

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Legal aid lifeline for domestic violence victims

Author: Gail Harris

More victims of domestic violence will now be able to get the legal support they need to bring an end to their suffering.

In another welcome move to stamp out domestic violence, the government has removed the time limit for the evidence needed to be able to qualify for legal aid.

A spokesperson for the Law Society commented: “Legal aid is a lifeline for those who have suffered abuse. It is often the only way someone can bring their case before the courts.

“These changes will help domestic violence victims who have previously been deprived of valuable legal advice, support and representation to access essential family law remedies.”

Last year, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) relaxed the evidence requirement, giving victims a longer time period for the evidence.  Even so, victims could only access legal aid for court hearings if they were able to provide evidence that was less than 5 years old.

Under the new rules, this requirement has been completely removed and the types of evidence that can be used have also been widened so that financial abuse can also be included. To reduce the burden on the victims, evidence can now also be accepted from domestic violence support organisations.

Jayne Kirtley, specialist family lawyer at Atherton Godfrey, commented on the developments: “The current rules were far too restrictive and meant that many victims could not meet the criteria. Removing the evidential time restriction helps to create a more level playing field and means that victims can access the legal representation they need.”

Jayne advises: “If you or your children are being subjected to domestic violence, domestic abuse or financial abuse, please don’t delay getting help. You can speak to a family lawyer in total confidence at any time – you don’t need to get the evidence first.”

Prime Minister, Theresa May only recently announced plans to introduce new laws that would increase conviction rates and help people that are currently let down by the system.

Other recent developments include protecting victims from being cross examined by their abuser