£140k awarded to 17yr old who suffered facial injuries

Circumstances

The Claimant pursued a claim against the Defendant Health Authority for facial injuries caused by negligent surgery. The Claimant had gone to Hospital to undergo surgery to remove a cyst. The cyst was non malignant but was a cosmetic blemish. The Claimant was 4 years old at the time of the surgery.

The operation should have been straight forward. However, the surgery went wrong. The surgeon went too close to the facial nerve which was severed.

Injuries and Progression

The severing of the Claimant's facial nerve resulted in the Claimant being unable to close her left eye fully. There was slackness in the left lower lid and the eyeball as a result would be exposed to draughts. Her facial muscles remained damaged which meant her ability to provide facial expression was significantly reduced.

It was decided to carry out re-constructive surgery to try improve the Claimant's symptoms, when she was 14 years old. The surgery involved grafting muscle to try improve the Claimant's facial movement and ability to make facial expressions.  The surgery was a success and there was significant improvement to the Claimant. The final assessment by medical experts suggested an improvement in facial movements of in the region of 80%.

Settlement

The Claimant's and Defendants solicitors entered into negotiations to try reach an amicable settlement. In addition to the Claimant claiming compensation for pain suffering and loss of amenity, the Claimant claimed financial losses.

The Claimant was attending a state school at the time of the accident. Following returning to school she experienced periods of bullying. This clearly had a psychological effect on the Claimant. She was diagnosed as suffering from mild depression, whilst at its worst manifested itself in a suicide bid which failed.

The Claimant's parents moved her to a private school which was much more sensitive to issues such as bullying. The cost of sending the Claimant to private school was therefore claimed as part of the Claimant's compensation.

Overall compensation was agreed at £140,000 to reflect the risk that the Claimant would require further surgery. It also included the cost of the private education. £42,000 of the award was for the Claimant's pain suffering and loss of amenity.

As the Claimant was still under 18 at the time of settlement a Judge had to approve that the settlement was in the Claimant's best interests. A settlement was approved accordingly.