Seeing your baby suffer an injury or a long-lasting disability, such as birth injury, because you were let down by the obstetrics you should have been able to rely on is something no one should have to deal with. Compensation may be of small comfort when you have been through an arduous childbirth, or worse have lost your baby, but it can at least try to redress some of the suffering you have been through, even if only by paying you back for the financial losses you have experienced.
How To Claim Damages For Obstetrics Or Birth Injuries
This guide outlines how you can go about making a birth injuries compensation claim and how our panel of No Win, No Fee solicitors can help you to do it. If there is still anything you are unsure about, our team of advisors will be able to help you with a free consultation. Simply call us on 0161 696 9685.
Jump To A Section
- A Guide To Claims For Birth Injuries And Obstetrics Negligence
- What Are Birth Injuries And Obstetrics Negligence?
- Statistics For Injuries And Complications From A Birth
- Duty Of Care Owed By Medical Practitioners To Patients
- Grounds On Which You Could Make A Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Claim
- Types Of Traumatic Birth Malpractice Claims
- Cerebral Palsy Caused By Birth Injuries
- Erb’s Palsy Caused By Birth Injuries
- Other Types Of Birth Injury Affecting A Baby
- Claims For A Maternal Birth Injury
- My Child Was Injured In A Traumatic Birth, What Should I Do?
- Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Compensation Claims Calculator
- Are There Other Types Of Damages You Could Claim?
- No Win, No Fee Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Compensation Claims
- How We Could Help With Birth Injury And Obstetric Negligence Claims
- Talk To Legal Helpline
- References And Medical Resources
Every year thousands of women lose their babies in childbirth. Thousands more suffer PTSD-like symptoms as a result of a traumatic birth, according to the Birth Trauma Association. This guide has been written to inform you of how you may be able to go about making a medical negligence claim if you have been affected by a birth injury, either by suffering an injury yourself or by your baby being harmed.
This guide will cover some of the different types of injuries that can occur and how, as well as how responsibility can be apportioned. We will offer useful tips on how you can go about building a case by gathering evidence. And throughout you will be able to find links to handy resources both from other guides on Legal Helpline’s site as well as other websites. We will also show you how compensation is calculated and how you could be able to seek compensation without having to pay for expensive legal bills. If at any time you have a query or would like to proceed with making a claim, please call us on 0161 696 9685, or use the other contact information at the bottom of this article.
A birth injury is a physical injury suffered by either the baby or its mother during childbirth or a long term health problem (such as cerebral palsy) that occurs as a result of complications in pregnancy. The skill and training of the medical professionals helping to deliver the baby and carrying out post-natal care are crucial to preventing such injuries from taking place.
Birth injuries can be caused by medical negligence. For example, a baby can come to serious harm if signs of the baby being in distress or suffering health problems are not spotted and acted upon properly, such as by performing a C-section. Injuries can also occur if procedures are not performed in the correct manner, such as using forceps to manoeuvre a baby out of the birth canal.
According to statistics by the NHS:
- 2,686 children under the age of one died in 2013, a reduction from 2,912 in 2012 and from 6,381 in 1983.
- That means the infant mortality rate in 2013 was the lowest ever recorded at 3.8 per 1,000 live births compared to 4.0 deaths per 1,000 in 2012 and 10.1 per 1,000 in 1983.
- Mothers aged between 25 and 29 had the lowest infant mortality rate (3.4 deaths per 1,000). Mothers under the age of 20 had the highest infant mortality rate (6.1 per 1,000)
- In 2013, babies with a very low birth weight (under 1,500 grams) had an infant mortality rate of 164.0 per 1,000, compared to babies with a low birth weight (under 2,500 grams) at 32.4 deaths per 1,000 births.
You can have a look at these statistics and other data for yourself on the Office for National Statistics website by clicking here.
All medical professionals, from GPs and surgeons to nurses and midwives, owe a duty of care to their patients. Practitioners must show respect for human life and ensure that their practice meets the standards expected of them. This standard of care is expected of all professionals regardless of their personal position, such as their level of experience. A newly qualified midwife, for example, would be expected to perform their duties to the same standard as a midwife with many years of experience. Any failure to meet this standard of care could be considered negligence regardless of whether it was due to malice, ineptitude or human error. If a patient has been harmed in any way by medical negligence, they could have grounds to make a medical negligence claim.
You could have the right to seek compensation for clinical malpractice if you have reason to believe that the doctors, nurses, midwives, obstetricians or hospital staff involved in your prenatal care, birth, and post-natal care have failed in their duty of care to you or your baby and, as a result, you or your child suffered harm.
There are different types of outcomes for birth malpractice claims in which liability for the harm that has occurred depends on how responsibility for the negligence is apportioned. These include:
- Contributory negligence: In these cases, the victim is deemed to have contributed to the cause of the accident or birth injury. The compensation awarded in these instances would depend on the degree to which the victim and other parties are deemed to be responsible
- Vicarious liability: In cases like these the hospital will be deemed to have responsibility on behalf of the actions of their staff and doctors. Compensation will be paid out in accordance with the severity of the injury and special damages incurred by the victim.
- Gross negligence: In such cases, the doctor, nurse, midwife, or another practitioner responsible for the birth will be deemed responsible for the negligence by having violated their duty of care. The individual in question will likely face legal action, possibly resulting in the revocation of their medical license.
To find out what kind of liability your case might have, call our advice team. They will discuss your circumstances and, if possible, give you an idea of what degree of liability you or the party you wish to claim against will have.
Cerebral Palsy is a disorder that affects the body’s development and coordination. Children with cerebral palsy often suffer from physical disabilities and learning disabilities. It is caused when the brain suffers damage at a very early point in its development. This can occur both in-utero (during pregnancy) or during childbirth. There are several hazards which can inflict brain damage on children during childbirth which can lead to them developing cerebral palsy.
- A head injury causing bleeding on the brain, which could be caused by the improper use of forceps
- Oxygen deprivation, which could be caused by a delayed birth, breech birth or the baby’s head getting stuck
- An infection (such as meningitis) contracted while in the womb or shortly after birth, which could occur if proper hygiene and sanitation measures are not fully observed.
These injuries, and subsequent onset of cerebral palsy, can be caused by negligence on the part of hospitals, nursing staff, midwives and doctors. If your child suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of an injury sustained in childbirth, then get in touch with us to find out if you could be eligible to claim compensation. To find out more about cerebral palsy, its symptoms, prognosis and effects, read this NHS guide.
Erb’s palsy, also known as Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy, is a condition causing the paralysis of the arm. It can be caused by the brachial plexus of a baby being damaged during childbirth and subsequent damage to the nerve cluster in the shoulder responsible for movement and sensation in the arm.
It usually occurs when there are complications in birth, causing the baby’s shoulder to get trapped behind the mother’s pelvis after the head has emerged. The NHS estimates that this occurs in about 1 in 150 births. Midwives and obstetricians are trained to spot the warning signs of these difficulties and to act quickly to release the baby as soon as possible. If a case of brachial plexus occurs because the obstetricians and midwives failed to spot the signs and did not quickly and safely manoeuvre the baby out of the birth canal in the manner they are trained and expected to, then there could be grounds for making a clinical negligence compensation claim.
Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy are just two specific examples of how a baby can be harmed by medical negligence while being delivered. Other cases in which a birth injury negligence compensation claim could be made include:
- Misdiagnosis: If the baby has suffered from a health issue in-utero that has been misdiagnosed by doctors, then the baby could suffer from illness, injury or death due to a lack of proper treatment.
- Anaesthesia mistakes: Applying the wrong amount of anaesthesia for a procedure, such as a C-section, could result in harm to mother and baby, such as prolonged unconsciousness or awareness during the procedure
- Negligence in postnatal care: Both mother and baby’s health can be severely affected if the quality of postnatal care is substandard.
If some other kind of injury or illness has affected you or your baby as a result of clinical negligence and it isn’t listed here, don’t worry, just call us on 0161 696 9685.
Childbirth is not only dangerous for the baby, but mothers giving birth are also at risk of suffering numerous types of injuries and illnesses. This risk can be significantly heightened if the obstetricians and midwives treating the mother during pregnancy and birth are negligent in their care. Injuries and health problems caused by negligence can include:
- Vaginal tearing
- Vaginal fissures
- Damage to the uterus or bladder due to a poorly performed C-section
- Scarring or poor healing of C-section scars due to inadequate stitching
- Psychological trauma due to a difficult and painful birth or birth injuries.
In addition to this, although very rare these days, it is possible for women to die in childbirth. We invite anyone who has suffered an injury during childbirth or who has lost a loved one in childbirth due to negligence to contact us and discuss whether it would be possible to make a claim.
Of course, it will be difficult to grapple with a situation in which you have suffered a traumatic birth injury or your child has been seriously hurt due to medical negligence. The prospect of having to take legal action could be even more overwhelming. There is no need to feel like this, though. Once you are in touch with a specialist solicitor, they will give you the guidance and support you need and will handle the claim on your behalf, updating you on all progress made. There are a few things you could do to help boost your chances of success:
- Get a medical examination. You will likely have received a diagnosis already, but having a second opinion could help to reinforce your position. Legal Helpline can arrange a doctor’s appointment for you as part of your claim’s process.
- Gather together any documentation associated with any costs you have incurred as a result of the injury. Any receipts and bills relating to travel expenses, medication, physiotherapy sessions and so forth can all be recovered.
- Collect evidence. Any evidence you can find relating to the injury and the negligence can prove useful. Even if it is as simple as writing down an account of what happened as best as you can remember it will be a helpful step.
If you are curious about birth injury compensation amounts then this birth injury compensation calculator can help demonstrate roughly how much money is awarded for birth injuries themselves. If you don’t see an injury matching yours or your baby’s, don’t worry, the injuries listed here are only examples, and at any rate, they do not reflect the final total of what successful claimants could receive. In addition to these figures, claimants could also receive special damages, which will be addressed in the next section.
|Female reproductive organ injury||Infertility, scarring and pain with effects on mental health||£107,810 to £158,970|
|Female reproductive organ injury||Infertility arising from failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy||£31,950 to £95,850|
|Female reproductive organ injury||Infertility without any other complications when the victim has already has children||£16,860 to £34,480|
|Female reproductive organ injury||Infertility where the victim would not have been able to have children anyway due to other factors||£6,190 to £11,820|
|Female reproductive organ injury||Failed sterilization resulting in an unwanted pregnancy||In the region of £9,570|
|Female reproductive organ injury||Delay in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy but with no effect on fertility.||£3,180 to £19,170|
|Bladder injury||Total loss of control and function in both bowels and bladder||Up to £172,860|
|Bladder injury||Total loss of function and control in bladder.||Up to £132,040|
There are effects on a victim of a traumatic birth injury victim that extend beyond the physical and psychological trauma. There can also be significant financial implications for those who have been affected by these types of injuries. Luckily expenses and losses brought on by a serious injury can be recouped through compensation. Things which can be claimed back include:
- Health care costs: any healthcare for you or your baby that was necessary for your recovery can be claimed for.
- Therapy costs: Any bills or expenses for emotional therapy for yourself can also be recovered.
- Care costs: In cases of severe birth injuries where the baby develops disabilities such as cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy, lifelong care may be necessary, as well as special support and home adaptions. These costs can be met through compensation.
- Loss of earnings: an injury or an injury to your baby could force you to take time off work or stop working altogether. You can be compensated for the income you lost through this. If you have had to stop working altogether, then you could be granted compensation equivalent to your yearly salary for each year until you reach retirement age.
You must be able to provide proof of your expenses in the form of receipts and invoices. If you don’t keep records then your expenses may not be able to be calculated accurately and you could miss out on compensation.
When you are making a compensation claim in such circumstances, the last thing you want to have to worry about is the question of how you are going to afford legal fees. A No Win, No Fee claim can offer an answer to these predicaments. Firstly, under a No Win, No Fee agreement you will not have to pay any fees upfront or during your claim, and if your case is unsuccessful you will not have to pay any of the fees your solicitor has incurred in pursuing your case.
If your claim is successful then your solicitor may seek a small contribution toward their costs. This is known as a success fee and would be deducted from the compensation awarded at the end of the claim. Don’t worry, success fees are legally capped and will be agreed with your solicitor before you begin your case.
Our panel of solicitors has over thirty years of experience handling medical negligence claims. They will strive to win you the maximum amount of compensation possible and will guide you through the complexities of the legal process, explaining legal jargon along the way. And if ever you have a query or would like an update on your case, they’ll be on hand to take your call.
We’re on hand to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You can reach us by phone on 0161 696 9685 where you can speak to one of our friendly advisers about your case. Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form and arrange a time for us to call you back.
Guide by JY
Edited by REG