Autistic child recovers damages for negligence after birth | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Autistic child recovers damages for negligence after birth

Sophie was born at the Ipswich General Hospital when her parents were on holiday in Suffolk. She was born at 29 weeks gestation and was transferred to the Lister Hospital, in Stevenage.

Two days later, Sophie collapsed and suffered permanent brain damage. The collapse led to a condition known as PVL, infantile spasms and subsequently autism.

Sadly, Sophie suffers from severe communication and behavioural difficulties in addition to severe learning disabilities. She also has mild spastic hemiplegia.

Sophie will never work and will require constant care and supervision throughout her life.

The issue in the case was the cause of the collapse. We established that this was due to an over-infusion of dextrose solution and a subsequent failing to maintain Sophie’s levels of sodium and allowing her to become severely hyperglycaemic.

Initially liability was admitted by the Trust. However, when the parties were investigating quantum of damages the hospital reneged on its admission and it was necessary to issue proceedings and to ask the court to determine the cause of Sophie’s injuries.

The case was fixed for trial. The defendants, on the basis of independent expert evidence, asserted that Sophie's autism could not have been caused by the negligent over infusion of dextrose. They argued that her brain injury was caused by infantile spasms, which were not related to the initial injury.

Shortly before the trial, and after receiving advice from another expert on the cause of Sophie’s disabilities the defendants admitted liability.

In addition, Paul McNeil secured a substantial interim payment to enable the family to purchase care, additional speech and language therapy, education services and more suitable accommodation.

Following the admission of liability Sophie’s mum stated:

"We are delighted with the outcome of the case that Paul McNeil conducted for our daughter. Paul’s tactical grasp throughout was excellent.

"His exceptional skill secured us a quick admission from the hospital of liability and he patiently capitalised on this to win a substantial initial lump sum. We would have no hesitation in recommending him to others".

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For further information about birth injury claims and medical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 0330 460 6804 or email


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