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Settling for less?

A new case has forced the NHSLA to re-examine its policy on ‘with profits’ settlements for medical negligence, says Richard Lewis

21 February 2003

Richard Hopley has cerebral palsy. He is profoundly disabled, needing care night and day. His condition is alleged to be the result of medical negligence at his birth. However, he reached the age of 27 before his claim for damages was finally settled. Liability had been in dispute, but eventually a compromise was reached in June 2000. Liverpool Health Authority agreed to pay half the damages that would have been due had Hopley been able to establish full liability. This meant £2.1m was payable. In spite of the size of this settlement, Hopley’s advisers were concerned that the 50 per cent reduction might mean there would not be enough money to pay for the care Hopley needs for the rest of his life. They therefore sought a structured settlement, which would guarantee payments for Hopley’s lifetime. However, the compromise on liability meant the payments generated by a structure linked to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) would be insufficient to meet the annual care costs. The deficit...

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