Our Medical Negligence Solicitors have a proven track record in birth injury claims and understand the effects - both physical and mental - of birth injury on the child, the mother and the family.
That’s why we aim to make the process of claiming compensation as stress-free as possible. Ask if we can deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis.
We’ll show empathy and speak to you in plain English every step of the way.
We’ll use our expert knowledge to advise on all aspects of your case and maximise the amount of compensation obtained, to help you pay for what you and your child need.
Aspects of Birth Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Birth Asphyxia or Hypoxia
- Neurological Injuries
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Excessive Bleeding
- Improper Medical History Taking
- Midwifery Errors
- Failures to Refer to Senior Doctors
- Sub-standard Physical Examinations
- Missed Fractures
- Misdiagnosis of Baby’s Condition or Illness
- Out-of-hours Decisions
- Premature Discharge from Treatment
- Traumatic Injuries
If the treatment or diagnosis fell below accepted medical practice, then you’re entitled to receive a fair amount of compensation to help you cope with the consequences.
The compensation you receive can help you cover expenses such as:
- Care from family members
- Professional care from employed carers
- Holiday carers
- Accommodation and transport meeting your child’s needs
- Physiotherapy, improving independent living (OT), help with co-ordinating care needs
- Improving your child’s communication (SALT and Assistive Technology)
- Help with finding work and loss of earnings
- Identifying the best type of care and support (including equipment) for your child
Unlike some other types of medical negligence claims, the long-term consequences of a medical mistake at birth may not be reliably known for many years.
But we can also offer guidance on how to claim compensation further down the line and present strong evidence to reinforce your case.
- Specialist in-house nursing to deal with early analysis of treatment provided and identification of core medical records
- Care package management
Common Birth Injuries
There is a range of possible injuries, conditions and illnesses that can occur as a result of substandard care during childbirth.
Most common among these are:
Cerebral Palsy (CP) - Resulting from brain damage during birth, this neurological disorder affects your child's motor skills, leading to physical impairment that can manifest in a number of ways. It might affect the legs, arms or face, causing problems with walking, general movement or even resulting in severe disability that requires lifelong care.
Although incurable, Cerebral Palsy is not considered to be life-threatening, except in the most profound cases, and can be managed with a variety of techniques, such as physiotherapy, medication and technology.
Erb's Palsy- Unlike CP, Erb's Palsy isn't related to the brain, but is a physical disorder that affects the nerves in your child's shoulders. Also referred to as Obstetric Brachial Plexus injury (OBPi), it can be caused by a trauma during birth and results in loss of feeling, weakness and, in more severe cases, paralysis in the affected arm(s).
It’s possible for a baby to recover from Erb's Palsy, although this isn't guaranteed and for many it will be a lifelong condition that requires a variety of treatments and therapies to make it more manageable.
Klumpke's Palsy- Another form of Brachial Plexus, Klumpke's Palsy is also a physical condition that damages the nerves in the arm, this time affecting the forearm and hand and restricting their movement.
Once again, the major cause is a trauma during childbirth, such as your baby's shoulder becoming snagged upon the pubic bone, and although the nerve damage can heal on its own, surgery and further therapy is often required to correct and treat it.
Perineal tears- Perineal tears affect the mother and, due to the levels of stress the human body undergoes during childbirth, are quite common. The severity of the tear is graded in degrees (1st through to 4th), with 1st degree tears rarely leading to further complications, while 4th degree tears are more significant and require quick and specialist treatment.
Failure to recognise and correctly deal with the more serious degree of tear can lead to severe pain and further detrimental side-effects including psychological problems.
Retained products of conception- A retained product of conception can mean any form of tissue that is left in the uterus following a birth or as a result of a miscarriage. This can cause internal bleeding and an increased risk of infection.
Nervous shock- Ranging from psychiatric damage to mental illness, nervous shock can sometimes affect mothers who have experienced a particularly traumatic and badly conducted birth.
In cases where a partner or family member witnessed the poor standard of care and has suffered as a result of its consequences, they too may able to claim for medical negligence as a 'secondary victim'.
Stillbirth - A stillborn baby is one that dies after the 24th week of pregnancy, either in the womb or in the uterus. This can be for a number of reasons, including infections, birthing trauma, pre-eclampsia and prematurity.
Frequently asked questions
- What is the claims process?
Medical negligence birth injury claims can be complex cases, which rely on a number of independent experts to carry out a thorough investigation.
As such, the claims process can take a long time to reach a final settlement.
But rest assured that once we take on your case, we’ll take care of the difficult tasks, from arranging appointments with independent medical experts, to dealing with the other side and their Lawyers.
Applying the law correctly isn’t straightforward and any uncertainty can stop you winning. There are strict legal tests to be met and these may cause delays if your evidence is unclear, which means this support can be invaluable.
- What funding is available?
We may be able to fund your case through a No Win, No Fee Agreement, which is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement. Ask us for details.
Legal Aid is currently only available in medical negligence cases for a baby that has suffered a neurological injury under the age of 8 weeks old.
- How do birth injuries happen?
Although healthcare professionals are trained to the highest standards, mistakes can sometimes happen.
This might be down to an error in judgement, misunderstanding instructions, delays in diagnosis, delayed treatment, a lack of attention, administering the wrong medication, or another oversight that puts you and your baby at risk.
If it can be proved that a healthcare professional or institution has performed its duty without due care, there could be case for medical negligence.
- How common are birth injuries?
Fortunately, the majority of childbirths go smoothly, with birth injuries that lead to further complications or ongoing conditions being relatively uncommon.
- Do birth injuries only affect the child?
No. There are a number of problems that can arise during a mishandled childbirth that might lead to ongoing problems for the mother.
- Can I claim for a birth injury?
If you or your child has suffered a birth injury that is shown to be as a result of medical negligence, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
To qualify, the medical care you received must have fallen below an acceptable standard and been the direct cause of the injury.
- Is there a time limit for birth injury claims?
If you’re a mother affected by issues related to birth injuries, there is a three-year limit in which to make your claim.
This is effective either from the date of when the medical negligence took place or from when your injury or its adverse effects were discovered.
Where your child is concerned, you have until their 18th birthday to make a claim on their behalf. After this, it’s up to the child to make the claim in their own name. Your child has until the age of 21 to do so. If they lack the 'capacity' to handle their own affairs, the time limit isn't applicable.
If the birth injury claim is on behalf of an adult unable to handle their own affairs, once again the time limit doesn't count.
If you’re claiming following the death of another person, you have 3 years from the date of their death in which to claim.
- How much is a birth injury claim worth?
The level of compensation awarded depends upon the severity of the individual case and the degree of medical negligence deemed to be responsible for it.
- What do I do next?
If your child has suffered a birth injury because of a substandard level of care, or you yourself have been at the receiving end of medical negligence during pregnancy or childbirth, you should seek independent legal advice from an expert in the field.
We have the know how and experience to ensure your claim is treated fairly and with sensitivity, as we work to get you the compensation you’re entitled to.
For free legal advice call our Medical Negligence Solicitors
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Simpson Millar is a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Morecambe and Southport.