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Birth Injury Claims
Having a baby should be one of the most exciting times in your life. However, when medical mistakes are made during pregnancy or birth, the consequences can be devastating.
What are birth injury claims?
A birth injury claim is a claim in respect of an injury to the baby or mother due to the negligent actions of a medical professional before, during or shortly after labour and childbirth.
Common childbirth injuries caused by clinical errors include:
• Failing to adequately monitor the baby and/or mother.
• Administering the incorrect medication.
• Mishandling the mother or baby.
• Negligent care during labour, leading to birth injuries to the mother or baby.
• Failure to identify or treat infections, such as meningitis or sepsis.
What birth injuries can occur during pregnancy?
Some examples of birth injuries or illnesses that can occur during pregnancy include:
• Placental abruption – this is where the placenta separates early from the uterus.
• Shoulder dystocia – this is when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during delivery and can lead to complications for both mother and baby, which can be serious without proper medical management.
• Uterine rupture – where the uterus wall tears open.
• Unmanaged gestational diabetes.
• Failure to properly manage pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour.
What birth injuries can occur during labour?
Birth injuries that can occur during labour include:
Injuries to the mother:
• Mistakes made during caesarean C-section that can lead to organ damage.
• Gynaecological treatment errors such as episiotomy – second or third degree tears.
• Perineal tears – third and fourth degree.
• Retained swabs.
• Anaesthetic errors.
• Mistakes in surgically suturing tears.
• Anal fissures (tears in the anus).
• Injuries when delivering baby via forceps or ventouse delivery.
• Suturing (stitching) issues.
• Post-natal infections.
Injuries to the baby:
• Cerebral Palsy due to the baby suffering head and brain damage, such as hypoxic ischæmic encephalopathy caused by decreased blood and oxygen levels to the brain.
• Muscular injuries such as Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injury.
• Shoulder dystocia (when baby’s shoulder becomes stuck during delivery).
• Fractures to the baby’s skull, legs, arms, shoulders or collarbone during birth.
What birth injuries can occur due to complications after the birth?
Sadly, some babies can pass away shortly after birth (infant mortality) or may be born dead after 24 weeks (stillbirth). It may be possible to make a birth injury compensation claim against the hospital or healthcare provider responsible if they acted negligently in their care which lead to stillbirth or infant mortality.
What other claims can be brought?
If you have undergone a failed abortion and went on to have a baby (whether healthy or otherwise) you may be able to make a claim.
What if my mental health has been affected by a birth injury?
A birth injury can have a significant effect on your mental health. Through making a birth negligence claim, you may be able to seek compensation that could help to pay for support and counselling that can help you to move forward with your life.
Is there a time limit for making a birth injury compensation claim?
The clinical negligence claims time limit is three years from the date you received the treatment, or three years from when you became aware that your illness or injury was caused due to the treatment you received. This means that you have to have either settled a claim for compensation or issued court proceedings within the three year limit.
There are exceptions such as cases involving children. An appropriate adult (usually a parent) can bring a claim before they reach the age of 18, after which time they have three years from their 18th birthday in which to settle a claim for compensation or have court proceedings issued.
The other exception being where there is a lack of mental capacity and someone else brings a claim for the adult, in which case there is no time limit to make a claim. Read our guide on making a clinical negligence claim on the behalf of a child for more information.
If a loved one has died due to clinical negligence, the three-year time limit runs from the date of death (so long as the time limit has not already expired). We appreciate that it can be a very upsetting time and we will guide you through the process sympathetically.
What will it cost me to bring a claim?
We are no win, no fee clinical negligence solicitors. This simply means that should we not win your case, you will not need to pay us a penny to cover your legal fees.
If you win your case your opponent will pay most of your legal costs.
Any legal costs not paid by your opponent will be deducted from the compensation that you receive. These costs include:
- The cost of your no win no fee insurance policy (After the Event Insurance)
- Some of your basic legal costs which cannot be recovered from your opponent
- A “success fee” which compensates us for the risk that if your claim was unsuccessful then we would not be paid at all.
Details of which will be discussed with you as the case progresses.
Read our guide on how personal injury claims are funded for more information
How much will my birth injury claim be worth?
It is not possible to say exactly how much compensation you may receive for your birth injury claim, as each and every case is different.
Your solicitor will quantify your claim based on the severity of your injuries and the impact that they have had on your life. The compensation that you could receive is broken down into General and Special Damages:
General Damages: This covers the physical and psychological suffering caused by the birth injury.
Special Damages: This covers any out of pocket expenses that you have incurred as a result of the negligent treatment. This includes:
- Rehabilitation treatment
- Medical expenses
- Care costs
- Home and vehicle adaptations
- Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
- Loss of earnings
How long will my claim take?
The length of clinical negligence claims depends on how long it takes to gather evidence, whether the other party admits fault, the severity of the injury and the extent of the claim for special damages. Straightforward clinical negligence claims may settle within 12-18 months, whereas complex cases may take several years.
How do I make a claim?
You can start the claims process by contacting our First Response Team on 0344 854 7000.
A member of our friendly team will ask you a series of questions to outline the details of your case. Your answers will be analysed by one of our clinical negligence solicitors who will determine if your case has good prospects or not.
Alternatively you can submit your details using our online enquiry form below and we will contact you at a time convenient for you.
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