A High Court judge has called for the introduction of structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements.
Over the years, a number of high-profile High Court judges have commented that legislation needs to be passed to enable structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements. Mr Justice John Quirke, Ms Justice Mary Irvine and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O´Neill have previously said that settlements of hospital negligence compensation can be a lottery when they are awarded on the basis of the anticipated life expectancy of a catastrophically injured plaintiff.
Last month another high-profile High Court judge, Mr Justice Bernard Barton, added his voice to those calling for structured payments systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements when presiding over O’Neill vs National Maternity Hospital – a case in which the National Maternity Hospital wants to make an interim settlement of compensation, but the “next friend” of the plaintiff wants a full settlement.
The case revolves around a young girl, who was born at the National Maternity Hospital in 2007 suffering from cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence. Although liability has been admitted by the National Maternity Hospital, the case was before Judge Barton because the two parties cannot agree on how much hospital negligence the child is entitled to.
There are considerable differences of opinion between how much should be awarded for the girl´s future needs and future loss of earnings, and the National Maternity Hospital proposed an interim settlement of compensation with a review to be conducted over the next ten years to obtain a more accurate settlement figure. The girl´s “next friend” (her mother) declined the interim settlement on the grounds of the potential psychological harm she might suffer during ten years of assessments.
Both parties – and Judge Barton – agree that if structured payments systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements were introduced, it would be a far better way to resolve disputes over how much compensation a catastrophically injured plaintiff should receive. The negotiations continue under the watchful eye of Judge Barton, and it is hoped that an agreement settlement of hospital negligence compensation can be reached in the near future.