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Health authority and driver forced to pay $3.3m to man after car accident that lead to botched birth

Man awarded $3.3m for brain injury suffered in womb

A 24-year-old man will receive $3.3 million after his mother took legal action over a car accident that led to a bungled birth delivery that left him with an intellectual disability.

The man, who lives in Forster on the NSW Mid North Coast, will receive the money in an out-of-court settlement with Hunter New England Health and the driver of the other car involved in the accident, who was insured by NRMA.

Justice Mark Ierace in the Supreme Court heard in two separate proceedings that the claims for damages arise from a motor vehicle accident at Pacific Palms in 1996 where the man's mother was injured, in the final term of her pregnancy.

The court heard that the car accident caused her to go into labour.

She was taken to Manning Base Hospital, where it was alleged that the hospital was negligent in the care it provided.

The court heard the hospital did not properly monitor the condition of the foetus and when a cardiotocograph was eventually done, it indicated abnormalities consistent with foetal distress.

The man was delivered by a caesarean section later that day, but suffered from lack of oxygen prior to delivery causing a brain injury.

Counsel for the man, Digby Dunn, alleged that the plaintiff had mild physical and developmental issues when he was young as a consequence of the injuries.

These included speech difficulties, which resolved with extensive therapy, but the man continues to have intellectual and behavioural problems.

Vocational psychologist Elizabeth Carter said part-time work was the best the man could achieve and he would need a "high level of support".

"Even with a high level of support, the reality is that [he] is likely to have difficulty retaining employment due to his marked cognitive, behavioural and psychological difficulties, as has been the case to-date," she said.

"In light of his history, current presentation, and other identified employment areas, it is my opinion that [his] vocational prognosis is in fact for serial or long-term unemployment."

The legal case against the driver was launched in 1999 and the case against Hunter New England Health started in 2017.

They were directed to be heard together in 2018.

Justice Ierace said after viewing confidential advice about the merits of the settlements, he believed they were in the man's best interest.

Both parties will pay the man $1,650,000 and cover his legal costs.

The settlements mean the family has avoided a Supreme Court civil trial.

Despite the out-of-court settlement, the man's disability required that his mother assist him in the action and that a judge sit in court to approve the payout.

This story Man awarded $3.3m for brain injury suffered in womb first appeared on Newcastle Herald.