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"Time to Lose the "Lost Years"'

View profile for Melanie Reynolds
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Compensation Claims Need Updating

Dutton Gregory Solicitor’s Medical Negligence Lead, Melanie Reynolds, is joining colleagues in her profession in the hope that 40 year old case law will soon be overturned by the Supreme Court.

The claimant in the case of CCC v Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been granted permission to challenge a decision by The Court of Appeal in the  1981 case of Croke v Wiseman, which decided a child would not be able to claim damages for lost years in their lifetime.  

‘Lost Years’ refers to the potential income of a child after the date of their calculated life expectancy. Currently, severely injured children can claim for loss of earnings only up to the point at which they are expected to live, but lawyers argue they should also be compensated for the earnings and pension they would have accumulated after that date.

Lawyers in the CCC case had claimed for £823,506 for lost years in addition to £224,000 for loss of earnings, but the Judge declined to assess the damages for lost years, saying this was ‘not a matter for off the cuff judgments’.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyer’s immediate past president John McQuater explained why the denial of ‘lost years’ compensation is a problem.

‘The judgment has been widely criticised over the years as being out-of-step with the principle of full compensation and being in conflict with the notion of treating everyone equally. A child’s lost years are distinguished and devalued, while an adult would be compensated.’

And Melanie agrees. ‘Over the years, many Judges have said that were they not bound by this legislation they would have awarded what many consider to be a better representation of equality’.

“It is hard to see how the Supreme Court would not award damages for lost years to child claimants.  Like many others in my profession, I am hoping the Supreme Court will find in favour of the claimant which will have a profound effect on awards to severely injured child claimants.”   .’