There’s no better feeling than becoming a new mother or father. But at the same time there’s no worse feeling than when something goes wrong during labour.
During birth, the mother and baby are both very vulnerable, so accidents, mistakes and negligence can cause serious complications. If you or a loved one have suffered a birth injury, then we’re truly sorry for what you’ve been through.
No amount of money can take away such a traumatic experience, but an expert solicitor can help you make a compensation claim to cover the costs caused by medical negligence. For example, this might include rehabilitation and medical costs, as well as the wider impact it’s had on your life and those around you.
You can get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. They’ll be able to answer any questions you may have and can let you know whether they think you’re eligible to make a compensation claim.
As with any other medical procedure, giving birth can cause a number of complications.
Medical staff are highly trained, and most of the time they do their job to an excellent standard. But sometimes negligence does happen – either in the months leading up to the birth or during the labour – and this can have life-changing consequences for either the mother or child, and in some cases, both.
Below, we’ve listed some examples of the kind of injuries which can happen when something goes wrong during childbirth.
Forceps are often used to help guide the baby’s head during birth. But if they’re used incorrectly, they can cause injuries to the mother or baby.
For the mother, this could include vaginal tearing or episiotomy while the child could suffer from bruising and cuts to the head and face.
The Royal College of Midwives sets out guidelines for the best technique to repair trauma and tearing during childbirth. If these guidelines aren’t followed, this could lead to problems such as infection, bleeding and muscle damage.
Placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta becomes detached from the wall of the womb, causing pain, bleeding and contractions. It also presents health risks to the unborn baby such as stillbirth, premature birth and growth problems.
If medical staff fail to diagnose a placental abruption, this could pose a risk of serious injury.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition which generally affects women during the second half of their pregnancy after the 20-week mark. If the condition isn’t diagnosed, then both mother and baby are at risk – in particular from a condition known as ‘eclampsia’ which is rare but can cause dangerous fits.
Cerebral palsy is a serious condition with symptoms which vary in severity but can include muscle stiffness or floppiness and weakness, uncontrolled body movements and co-ordination issues, fits and problems swallowing.
If the injury to you or your baby was caused by treatment which fell below the level you might reasonably expect, then you may have been the victim of negligence and have the right to make a claim.
You might be worried about making a claim against the NHS, but there’s no need to feel guilty – the fact of the matter is that anyone receiving treatment via the NHS has the right to a high level of treatment. If these standards aren’t met, then you’re entitled to compensation to help with the recovery and costs.
When making a birth injury claim, your solicitor will try to prove that the medical practitioner was at fault. To do this, they’ll gather evidence to show that their actions directly caused the birth injuries and that other medical staff wouldn’t have acted in the same way.
In some cases, your solicitor will call on medical experts to help to show this.
In the UK, you have 3 years from the date of injury to start a compensation claim. However, we know you might not have become aware of the birth injuries until quite a long time after they happened. In cases like these, you have 3 years from the date you first became aware that negligence occurred to make your claim. If the baby was injured during the birth, then you can make a claim on their behalf any time up until their 18th birthday. Alternatively, they can make a claim for themselves from the age of 18, up until their 21st birthday.
The amount of compensation you could receive can vary hugely from case to case. But the court considers three main points when working out your compensation:
Your solicitor will work hard to make sure all the effects of the birth negligence are covered.
Not only does this include any expenses (such as time off work, medical costs, alterations to your home), but will also take into consideration the effect it’s has had on your social life and hobbies, as well as your mental wellbeing.
Starting a compensation claim can seem daunting, especially after you’ve been through an experience as traumatic as a birth injury. Trained legal adviser and expert solicitors are there to help make the process as simple and stress-free as possible, right from the start.
Whether you’re looking for free advice, or are interested in starting a compensation claim, you can get in touch with a legal adviser on 0800 234 6438. They’ll be able to give you some more information on what’s involved in claiming and can also let you know whether they think you can make a case.
If you don’t want to take it any further, then you don’t have to. But if you decide you’d like to start your claim your adviser can put you in touch with the right medical negligence solicitor for your case.
An expert solicitor will be able to do most of the hard work on your behalf, so you’ll have the time and space to focus on getting things back on track. But they’ll also keep you update on the progress of your claim and will be able to give you advice on any compensation offers which come through.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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