Assisting with labour and delivery is a procedure carried out by thousands of midwives and doctors on a daily basis. However there are, unfortunately, still accidents that can occur during the process that can result in some form of trauma.
In the case of birth injury to either mother or child, both physical and mental, you may be eligible to make a claim.
And in order to give you all the information you need, we have explained the birth injury process in our latest blog, outlining common injuries, the claims process, and why you may require legal assistance.
Medical negligence at childbirth
Thankfully, the UK is one of the safest counties in the world to have a baby. However, there are unfortunately still risks associated with both pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the chance of medical negligence occurring.
According to research from the NHS, birth injuries and complications occur in 4.3 out of 1000 births in the UK every year. This can be due to unavoidable circumstances such as life saving measures needed in an emergency situation to save mum and/or baby. Sometimes these injuries happen as the result of medical negligence.
In some instances, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the birth injury was an unfortunate, unavoidable problem, or whether it was the fault of a medical professional. Therefore, sufficient records and evidence are required.
Common injuries during pregnancy
There are a wide range of injuries, both to mother and child, that may come as a result of the birthing process.
While some of these injuries may of course occur naturally without any cause of blame, they may also be a direct result of negligence or malpractice.
To help give you an understanding of what can be claimed for, we have separated out some of the most common birth injuries for mother and child below:
Birth injuries to mother
- Perineal tears (there are four types of perineal tears)
- Uterine prolapse
- Faecal incontinence
- Complications with anaesthetics
These are not automatically negligent, but depending on the circumstances of your treatment, then negligence can play a part in some cases. It is also important to remind you that mental trauma, such as experiencing pain or seeing your new baby experience pain as a result of negligence during the childbirth process, can also be used as part of a birth injury process claim.
Birth injuries to child
- Cerebral palsy
- Oxygen deprivation
- Erb’s palsy
- Broken bones
- Shoulder injuries (due to the use of forceps or getting stuck in the birth canal)
- In some extremely unfortunate circumstances, stillbirth
Can you complain directly to the hospital?
It is advisable that, before any major legal proceedings are started, that you make a formal complaint to the hospital responsible for the birth injury.
By doing so, your complaint will be investigated by the Trust’s internal complaints team following a dedicated procedure.
Should you decide to proceed with a claim, then this step will help to provide birth injury solicitors with sufficient information about your treatment and whether or not a claim is a viable option for you.
What evidence is needed for a birth injury claim?
It is important to support your birth injury claim with as much evidence as possible. This can help to streamline the claims process and work towards earning you the compensation you deserve.
One of the key pieces of evidence that can contribute towards your birth injury claim is the records that are created during the time of birth. These records, written by medical staff, outline everything that happened during the birthing process.
Additionally, any receipts that can prove your financial loss may also be beneficial in your claim and may contribute to your final compensation payment.
Is there a time limit for making a birth injury compensation claim?
As with any form of medical negligence, accident or injury, there is a time limit associated with making a claim.
For example, if it was the mother who was injured during the birthing process, they have up to three years from the date of the birth or from when they first knew, or ought to have known, that their injury may have been the result of negligence, to start their claim.
For children who were injured, the Limitation period does not start until they reach adulthood (18 years of age). Once the child has reached 18, they will then have three years to submit their claim.
Parents of a child who has sustained a birth injury can bring a claim on behalf of their child before their 18th birthday. If a claim for a child is successful then any compensation that is awarded is invested by the Court and they will be allowed access to it when they turn 18.
It is important to act as fast as possible and to provide as much evidence as you can, and a birth injury solicitor can help to support you with this process to ensure the best possible outcome for you, your child, and your family.
What is a litigation friend?
In some circumstances, you may need to rely on the help of a litigation friend.
The most common occasion where this occurs is where a claim needs to be made on behalf of a child. In cases where the child is too young to conduct the claim on their own, a responsible adult who is connected with the child will act as Litigation Friend and provide instructions to the Solicitor. Typically, this is a parent or grandparent.
It is also possible to act through a Litigation Friend if you lack the mental capacity to provide instructions in your own right. In those circumstances someone who is connected to you can act in your best interests and provide instructions to your solicitor.
Birth injury compensation
Naturally, many families that have experienced physical and emotional trauma as well as financial loss as a result of birth injuries may be interested to know the compensation amount they would be awarded, should they win their case.
It is impossible to give an exact figure as to how much you will receive as every single case is different, and it will of course depend on the severity of your individual injuries and losses.
The team at Smith Partnership offer a completely bespoke process, where your case is assessed individually, and your dedicated birth injury solicitor will work closely with you to achieve the best possible solution.
Why do you need birth injury solicitors?
Navigating the claims process can be a long and complex challenge. You will need advice about whether you have good prospects of being able to prove that there has been a breach of duty which has resulted in you suffering avoidable pain and injury. Our legal experts are best placed to support you through the journey of obtaining evidence by way of medical records and independent medical expert advice in order to help you prove your claim and achieve a successful outcome.
Do you need the help of a dedicated solicitor?
If you need help with navigating the birth injury claim process, please get in touch with the team at Smith Partnership today.
With our many years of experience combined with our personal approach, we can work with you to handle your case with the utmost care, patience, and consideration.