A talented young footballer who suffered a catastrophic heart attack on the pitch just nine days into his professional career with a Premiership club has won the right to up to £7 million in compensation for the brain damage he suffered.
The 17-year-old striker was playing his first game for the club’s youth team when he collapsed. It took some minutes for an ambulance to arrive with a defibrillator and he suffered acute oxygen starvation before his heart could be restarted.
About a year earlier, he had been screened by a consultant cardiologist in line with Football Association protocols. The doctor had noted an ‘abnormality’ in his heart and had informed the club of this. However, contrary to his advice, the club’s own medical team had failed to commission a clinical review of the young man’s condition before he was signed as a professional and allowed to play.
In ruling the club 70 per cent responsible for what happened, the High Court found that the player had wrongly been given the all clear to participate in intensive exercise and that a specialist sports doctor had unreasonably given his parents false assurances that his heart was normal and that there was nothing to worry about.
Although rare, sudden cardiac arrest in even the fittest young athletes is a well- known phenomenon and, in ruling the cardiologist 30 per cent liable for the player’s injuries, the Court found that he was at fault in failing sufficiently to emphasise to the club that his condition required careful monitoring.
Had the player and his family been made aware of the risks, the Court found that he would have abandoned his football career and the disaster would thus have been averted. The amount of his damages has yet to be assessed; however, given the severity of his injuries and the lifetime of care he will need, the total is estimated at between £5 million and £7 million.
If you suffer illness or injury because someone who is under a legal obligation to do so has neglected to exercise the level of care towards you that is reasonable in the circumstances, contact a member of our team for advice.