Recent developments in Great Britain’s court systems have opened the door for children whose mothers consumed alcohol during their pregnancy to receive compensation for birth defects that may have resulted from such consumption. This spectrum of birth defects, which is known as foetal alcohol syndrome, is believed to affect as many as 8000 children born inside the United Kingdom every single year.
For a long time, it has been debated whether or not children whose mothers drink during the pregnancy should be eligible to receive foetal alcohol syndrome compensation. However, recently solicitors have been successful in arguing that mothers who were aware their drinking could harm their child committed a crime that is tantamount to poisoning. This decision by the courts has opened the door for a bevy of new lawsuits that could result in compensation for FAS victims and improve the lives of both the children affected and their caretakers.
Got a question?
- What is foetal alcohol syndrome?
- How much compensation can you claim?
- How to tell the syndromes and how to get diagnosed?
- Are you a no-win, no fee claim solicitor?
- How long until I can claim?
The most obvious effects of foetal alcohol syndrome are present on the faces of impacted children. Children who suffer from the disorder often have such facial characteristics as thin “fish” lips, relatively small eye openings compared to others in their ethnic group, reduced head circumference, short noses, and skin folds at the corners of their eyes that resemble the “crows feet” often seen in much more mature individuals.
Perhaps more damaging to the victim’s outlook, is a range of mental and cognitive impacts that result from foetal alcohol syndrome. The cognitive development of children affected by the disease is often impaired, resulting in a range of degraded mental functions that can impact their performance in school and compromise their abilities to find gainful employment later in life.
The mental impacts of the disorder frequently include delayed motor function, a poor sense of timing, and impaired ability to reason, reading disorders, and speech impediments that can inhibit the child’s performance and reduce their confidence in interacting with others.
When diagnosing this disorder, however, doctors are often forced to rely on only the physical manifestations of the disease in order to diagnose it. The mental defects that result from foetal alcohol syndrome are equally characteristic of a range of other mental disorders, and so are difficult to link directly to FAS. Instead, doctors must first identify the physical manifestations of the disease, and will then link them to the resulting mental impacts, in order to prove that the child has foetal alcohol syndrome and may be eligible for foetal alcohol syndrome compensation.
It should also be noted that the severity of foetal alcohol syndrome can vary widely, and is not necessarily tied to the extent of the mother’s drinking during pregnancy. Foetal alcohol syndrome has only been diagnosed in the last 30 to 40 years, and is still not widely understood. This is likely because many children whose mothers consume alcohol during pregnancy do not manifest any effects of the disease, while others show significant impacts, even though their mothers drink only infrequently during pregnancy.
The amount of compensation that victims may claim is largely tied to the extent of the damages from foetal alcohol syndrome, as well as the resources available to the mother. Most often, victims must sue for damages from their mother who often is no longer the custodial parent, due to court actions in the wake of the discovery of foetal alcohol syndrome, which often will take the child out of the mother’s care.
As well, Great Britain’s courts are still trying to determine the exact value of foetal alcohol syndrome. It has only been within the last 6 to 9 months that courts have given solicitors a green light to press for compensation on the basis of foetal alcohol syndrome. As such, it is difficult to predict the exact compensation available to sufferers of the syndrome and their caretakers. However it may still be wise to seek foetal alcohol syndrome compensation, even though the exact extent of the compensation is still an open question.
The symptoms of foetal alcohol syndrome will almost always be noticed during your child’s routine checkups during their early stages of development. The physical characteristics of foetal alcohol syndrome, especially those visible on the child’s face, will be quickly recognized by most pediatric care providers, and frequently it will be the doctor that notices evidence of the syndrome before the parent does.
Also, because developmental disorders are difficult to diagnose in early childhood, it will usually be the physical effects of the disorder that are noticed prior to the mental effects. In the event that your doctor does not raise the possibility that your child may suffer from foetal alcohol syndrome, but you suspect that this may be the case, you can look for the typical facial characteristics that result from the syndrome: thin lips, a flattening between the nose and forehead, wrinkles around the outside of the eyes, reduced head circumference, reduce nose length, and reduced overall height.
Yes. Unlike other solicitors that handle foetal alcohol syndrome cases, we do not require any payment unless the plaintiff wins their case. In the event that there is no settlement, and no compensation results from the case, and there will be no cost to you or to your child.
It is wise to wait until it is clear that your child is suffering from alcohol syndrome before filing a claim related to the disorder. This often means waiting until your child is at least 5 to 6 years of age. At that point, your solicitor will be able to establish definitively that they are suffering from physical and mental the effects related to foetal alcohol syndrome. Remember, though, that you should maintain a necessary paper trail in order to file for a claim at that time.
Those hoping to claim foetal alcohol syndrome compensation should also remember that it can be difficult to tie a child’s present condition directly to the acts of the mother during pregnancy. You will have to discuss with your solicitor whether or not the body of evidence in your case is strong enough to do this effectively; in the meantime, be sure to save anything that may thick valuable as evidence in the event of a foetal alcohol syndrome proceeding.