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Kernicterus Compensation Claims
Kernicterus is a serious condition that affects newborn babies and can have devastating consequences for families. If your child has developed kernicterus due to clinical negligence, the legal experts at JMW are here to help. We have specialist expertise in this area and an unparalleled track record in England and Wales of winning cases of negligently caused kernicterus.
Making a claim for compensation can help families better understand what has happened and why. Meanwhile, the compensation awarded provides essential support for their future medical needs. JMW Solicitors has developed a fantastic reputation for child brain injury cases, and we have successfully won several multi-million-pound kernicterus settlements on behalf of our clients.
Our experienced solicitors can provide compassionate and easy-to-understand advice regarding potential kernicterus compensation claims. We offer legal services on a no win, no fee basis. Some kernicterus cases can be funded with legal aid and JMW is able to make an application on behalf of families.
How JMW Can Help
The specialist solicitors at JMW have successfully managed numerous seven or eight-figure claims for compensation for the families of young children who developed kernicterus due to medical negligence.
We have built a reputation as leading specialists in claims for birth injuries, thanks to our wealth of experience in bringing successful cases. As with other neonatal brain injuries, kernicterus cases are often strongly contested, so it is essential that a legal challenge is brought by a lawyer with particular expertise in this field.
Our team is headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones and is widely recognised as one of the best clinical negligence departments in England and Wales. Several of our solicitors form part of the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitor panel.
Additionally, JMW has supported the Child Brain Injury Trust since 2012, as well as serving as the charity’s legal support service provider in the North West since 2015.
We understand how difficult it can be to go through a process as traumatic and complex as this and are dedicated to providing the guidance and support you need at every stage of your claim.
Vasili Kalisperas' kernicterus story
JMW is representing Vasili Kalisperas and his family in their fight for justice after poor care for his newborn jaundice led to him suffering devastating kernicterus brain damage.
Watch our video case study to see how we have helped the Kalisperas family.
How to Make a Kernicterus Claim
If you think your baby may have been affected by kernicterus due to medical negligence, our experienced solicitors may be able to help you make a claim for compensation. A successful claim can play a major role in improving a child's quality of life by providing help with the cost of transport, care and adaptations to the home, among other expenses.
JMW’s clinical negligence team will investigate the circumstances of your claim and gather evidence to show that your child’s kernicterus was the result of negligence, examining relevant medical reports and consulting with independent medical experts.
We will put together the strongest possible case to help settle the claim at the earliest opportunity, while working to obtain interim payments to help pay for any immediate care you may require.
Our Campaign to Make Kernicterus a Never Event
The specialist solicitors at JMW currently represent numerous children who have kernicterus due to failures in care. These children were born healthy, but are now severely disabled after suffering kernicterus brain damage in the first few days of their life, meaning they will require specialist care for the rest of their lives.
Furthermore, the consequences of kernicterus can be devastating for the family as a whole. Coming to terms with the severe disabilities it causes is extremely hard and kernicterus takes a huge financial and emotional toll, with care, equipment and accommodation costs often running into the millions of pounds.
As such, JMW is calling for kernicterus to be added to the NHS “never event” list, a register of serious but avoidable patient safety incidents that should never be allowed to happen if medical staff have taken adequate preventative measures.
Adding kernicterus to the NHS never events list would raise its profile both within the NHS and within the media, as incidence rates of never events are often reported nationally. In turn, this could bring greater awareness around the condition and put firmer emphasis on the NHS to ensure neonatal care providers receive the training and guidance they need on the treatment of newborn jaundice.
What is kernicterus?
Kernicterus is a potentially fatal form of brain damage that occurs when jaundice in a newborn baby becomes so severe that bilirubin - the substance responsible for the yellow appearance of skin and eyeballs - crosses the membrane of the brain, causing permanent damage.
High levels of bilirubin, also known as hyperbilirubinemia, can arise when red blood cells break down, or because the newborn’s liver is unable to process and clear the bilirubin adequately. This is a particular risk for babies who are born prematurely.
Jaundice in newborn babies is very common, and in most cases harmless, resolving without any need for treatment. However, in rare cases, it can become a significant risk to the child's health, so it must be monitored carefully. In particular, jaundice that appears in the first 24 hours of life may be a sign of an underlying problem, requiring urgent investigation.
When kernicterus occurs, this can lead to various complications, including:
How should kernicterus be prevented?
Medical professionals can prevent kernicterus by taking immediate action when a baby displays the first signs of jaundice. Bilirubin levels can be checked with a simple heel prick blood test and should be assessed at regular intervals.
If bilirubin levels begin to increase or become dangerously high, a number of treatment options are available, including phototherapy or a blood transfusion. With adequate treatment, bilirubin can be brought under control. However, if treatment is not provided in good time, bilirubin can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause irreversible damage. This brain damage is called kernicterus.
How does medical negligence lead to kernicterus?
Failures in kernicterus cases primarily stem from a lack of awareness of the risks of newborn jaundice, and the need for prompt and regular checks and treatment, among doctors, midwives or nurses.
For example, we have encountered numerous cases in which midwives have called for jaundiced babies to be placed in the window to get some sunlight - an ineffective treatment for jaundice - rather than checking the baby’s bilirubin levels. This results from a lack of knowledge that early signs of jaundice can lead to kernicterus.
When instances like this occur it may be possible to make a claim for compensation due to medical negligence.