Lawyers for a Donegal teenager who was catastrophically injured at birth have called for reform of a payment system that is "forcing" families to come back to court every few years.
David O'Malley, acting on behalf of Ruby McCandless, said that the legislation around periodic payment orders is "unworkable".
The High Court approved a further interim payment of €1.59 million for the 16-year-old today.
Ms McCandless settled her case against the Health Service Executive in 2014 and this is the third interim payment to be approved by the court.
In 2014, Ruby received an initial sum of €1.45 million to cover her care up until 2018.
She received a second payment of €1 million in 2018, before the case came back before the High Court today.
Des O’Neill SC for the family asked the court to approve the payment of €1.59 million today, saying it was larger than the previous four year sum, primarily because the cost of care has increased considerably.
The teenager has dyskinetic cerebral palsy and will require life long care.
Ruby McCandless, of Foxwood, Gleneely, Co Donegal, sued the HSE through her mother, Christina, in relation to the care that she received at the end of her pregnancy in 2006.
It was claimed that Ruby suffered her injuries as a result of her mother not being referred to hospital with symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
It was claimed there were failures to diagnose and treat pre-eclampsia at the earliest reasonable opportunity and have Mrs McCandless admitted to hospital to have her high blood pressure managed.
Lawyers for the family had previously raised concerns outside court in 2018 about what they described as the "fundamentally flawed" periodic payments system, which they said would not ensure the life long needs of catastrophically injured people are sufficiently funded.
Speaking outside court today, solicitor David O’Malley said the current system - that is "forcing families to come back to court every few years" - needs reform.
"PPO legislation is currently unworkable and needs to be index linked to wage inflation," he said.
Periodic payments mean an amount, that is index linked, can be paid to plaintiffs every year for the rest of their lives.
These payments are currently indexed with the Harmonised Consumer Price Index.
However, concerns have been raised that this type of indexing could mean that plaintiffs end up being under compensated and some solicitors have said they want the payments to be index linked with wages.
Mr O'Malley said that interim payments and lump sums are "cloaked with uncertainty", and he urged the Justice Minister to take action.
"I implore Minister [Helen] McEntee to immediately remedy this unworkable legislation to ensure certainty moving forward for all catastrophically injured children," he said.
Lawyers for Ruby McCandless, a Donegal teenager who was catastrophically injured at birth, have called for reform of a payment system that is 'forcing' families to come back to court every few years | Read more: https://t.co/RjSPSO3Qch pic.twitter.com/GzvBgqs5CL— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 5, 2022
The 2017 Civil Liability Act does not allow the minister to vary the indexation rate until at least October 2023.
A spokesperson said the Minister for Justice intends to address the issue by bringing forward amendments that would allow her to make regulations to set the indexation rate.
She also intends to set up an inter-departmental working group to advise on the appropriate rate.
Approving today’s payment, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it seemed to be a "pretty good settlement" that would tide Ruby over for the next few years and she wished her well.
Des O’Neill SC for the family told the court that today’s sum was larger than the previous four-year sum, primarily because the cost of care has increased considerably.