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Case Study

£6m for brain injury after defendant fails to uphold suicide watch

Jenny Urwin reached a £6m settlement on behalf of a young person who suffered brain injury while in the care of the defendant, a mental health institution tasked with keeping them safe and providing psychiatric care.

The claimant had been receiving varying psychological and psychiatric input for episodes of self-harm and attempts at suicide over a period of time and was then admitted to the defendant mental health institution under s.3 MHA 1987.

Throughout that admission there were several self-harm incidents and the claimant was supposed to be on five-minute observations and was not allowed into their bedroom without supervision. The bedroom was to be locked at all times and only unlocked to allow admission, where supervision was to be provided at all times. The claimant received no therapy and the attempts at self-harm continued.

While another incident arose on the unit, the claimant was able to enter the bedroom, which had been left unlocked, and hanged themselves. The claimant had been missing for 23 minutes or more without a member of staff observing despite the requirement for five-minute observations.

The claimant survived the incident but suffered severe brain injury as a consequence. They have been left with physical impairments including left-sided weakness and an impaired and unbalanced gait. They also have a severely impaired memory, executive function, intellectual ability and difficulty processing information. They do not have the capacity to manage their financial affairs and these impairments are permanent.

The defendant admitted it failed in its duty to the claimant in not undertaking five-minute observations in communal areas and 1:1 observations in restricted areas and the bedroom, and that it failed to ensure that the bedroom door was locked when unoccupied. It also accepted that as a result, the attempted suicide would not have taken place. However, the defendant continued to argue that the claimant's brain injury was only minor and that they would have had significant needs as a result of underlying psychiatric illness in any event.

Settlement was negotiated at a round table meeting following a period of rehabilitation and the compensation will provide for the claimant's ongoing care and therapy needs.

The claimant's parents commented: "Jenny provided a much appreciated blend of experience, professionalism and empathy from the outset of what was an incredibly complex and aggressively contested case, to its successful conclusion. We would recommend her wholeheartedly and cannot thank her enough for the tireless work she undertook on our child's behalf."

Contact us

For further information about brain injury following medical negligence, please call Jenny Urwin on 0161 268 8595 or email jenny.urwin@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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