How To Claim Damages For A Birth Injury

By Cat Stardew. Last Updated 17th July 2023. If you or your child suffered avoidable harm as a result of a medical professional providing substandard care, you may wonder whether you could make a birth injury compensation claim. This guide will discuss when you could be eligible to make a medical negligence claim for a birth injury.

Our guide will discuss the duty of care owed to you by medical professionals, including midwives and nurses, as well as how birth injuries can occur if this duty is not adhered to.

A birth injury can have a significant effect on your life and the life of your child. If you were to make a successful claim, compensation could be awarded to address the impact the harm has had. We will discuss what medical negligence payouts could comprise later in our guide.

We’ll also explain how to strengthen your claim with different kinds of evidence and the benefits of working with a No Win No Fee solicitor who could assist you with seeking compensation.

To learn more or start your claim, contact our team of friendly advisors today:

Jump To A Section

  1. What Are Birth Injuries And Obstetrics Negligence?
  2. Duty Of Care Owed By Medical Practitioners To Patients
  3. Birth Injury Compensation Claim – How Long Do I Have To Claim?
  4. Cerebral Palsy Caused By Birth Injuries
  5. Erb’s Palsy Caused By Birth Injuries
  6. Other Types Of Birth Injury Affecting A Baby
  7. Claims For A Maternal Birth Injury
  8. My Child Was Injured In A Traumatic Birth, What Should I Do?
  9. Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Compensation Payouts
  10. Are There Other Types Of Damages You Could Claim?
  11. Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Claims With A No Win No Fee Solicitor

What Are Birth Injuries And Obstetrics Negligence?

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 injury claims

Birth injury claims

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.

Duty Of Care Owed By Medical Practitioners To Patients

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.

Birth Injury Compensation Claim – How Long Do I Have To Claim?

Birth injury compensation claims must generally be started within the three-year time limit as set by the Limitation Act 1980. This is typically three years from the date you gave birth or three years from the date that your birth injuries can be connected to negligence. However, some exceptions that suspend the birth injuries claims time limit can apply.

Persons under the age of 18 who suffered a birth injury cannot start their own birth injury compensation claim. The time limit is suspended until they turn 18. If they turn 18 and a claim has not been started on their behalf, they have three years to do so. While the time limit is suspended, a litigation friend can start a birth injury compensation claim at any point on their behalf.

Some may lack the mental capacity to claim. In these cases, the time limit for birth injury compensation claims is suspended indefinitely. However, a birth injury compensation claim can be started by a litigation friend at any point during the time limit’s suspension. Should the injured party regain their capacity, they will have three years following this date to start their birth injuries compensation claim.

Call our advisors to discuss the circumstances surrounding your potential birth injury compensation claim.

Cerebral Palsy Caused By Birth Injuries

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 Caused By Birth Injuries

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.

Other Types Of Birth Injury Affecting A Baby

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.

Claims For A Maternal Birth Injury

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
  • A ruptured uterus or bladder due to a poorly performed C-section
  • Scarring or poor healing of C-section scars due to inadequate stitching
  • Infections
  • 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.

My Child Was Injured In A Traumatic Birth, What Should I Do?

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.

Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Compensation Payouts

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.

Bladder injury (a)Total loss of control and function in both bowels and bladderUp to
Bladder injury (b)Total loss of function and control in bladder.Up to

Female reproductive organ injuryInfertility, scarring and pain with effects on mental health£114,900 to
Female reproductive organ injuryInfertility arising from failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy£43,010 to
Female reproductive organ injuryInfertility without any other complications when the victim has already has children£17,960 to
Female reproductive organ injuryInfertility where the victim would not have been able to have children anyway due to other factors£6,610 to
Female reproductive organ injuryDelay in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy but with no effect on fertility.£3,390 to
Female reproductive organ injuryFailed sterilization resulting in an unwanted pregnancyIn the region of

Are There Other Types Of Damages You Could Claim?

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.

Birth Or Obstetrics Injury Claims With A No Win No Fee Solicitor

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.

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.

References And Medical Resources

How Much Compensation Could You Claim For Gynaecologist Negligence?

Death due to hospital negligence claims

Medical negligence pressure sore claims

Cosmetic surgery medical negligence claims

NHS Resolution: the NHS litigation department