Making a claim for permanent brain damage at birth is a particularly harrowing event. Not only do parents have to acknowledge that their child´s brain damage is irreversible, but that the injury could have been avoided had greater care been taken by healthcare professionals before, during or after the delivery process.
For many parents, making a claim for permanent brain damage at birth is the only way in which they will receive answers to questions such as “how could this possibly happen?”. For all parents, obtaining the maximum possible settlement of compensation for childbirth brain injuries will enable their child to enjoy the best possible quality of life in the circumstances.
This article explains a little about how brain injuries at birth occur and the process for claiming compensation for childbirth injuries. For information that is specific to your child´s individual circumstances, it is recommended that you seek professional legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor.
When is it Possible to Claim for Permanent Brain Damage at Birth?
The list of potential causes of childbirth brain damage is extensive. Oxygen deprivation in the womb can result lead to permanent brain damage and conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit disorder and impaired vision. When jaundice is not treated properly, high levels of the neurotoxic substance bilirubin can develop – leading to a brain dysfunction known as kernicterus.
Brain damage can also be caused by a physical trauma if, during the delivery, the baby´s head is constantly hitting the mother´s pelvic bone, when birth-assisting tools such as forceps or vacuums are improperly used, or when the delivery is conducted too rapidly. Maternal infections and maternal pre-eclampsia have also been associated with neonatal brain damage.
When the injuries sustained by a child during childbirth could have been avoided with greater care, it may be possible to claim for permanent brain damage at birth. To successfully claim compensation for childbirth brain injuries, it will have to be ascertained that “on the balance of probabilities” the injuries were caused by the poor professional performance of a healthcare professional when compared to the accepted standard of care in the medical community.
How to Claim Compensation for Childbirth Brain Injuries
The first step in claiming compensation for childbirth brain injuries is to speak with a solicitor. The solicitor will ask you to describe the circumstances surrounding the birth of your child, including any act or omission by medical staff that you feel contributed to your child´s injuries. If the solicitor agrees that you have a claim for permanent brain damage at birth which is worth your while to pursue, he or she will ask for authorisation to access your child´s medical records.
The strength of your claim will be determined by an independent medical expert after reviewing your child´s medical records. It may also be appropriate to engage the services of a “causation expert” to determine if your child´s injuries could have been prevented and a “liability expert” to establish who exactly was at fault. It has to be remembered that many individuals are involved in the delivery process, and a claim for permanent brain damage at birth is unlikely to succeed if there are any unanswered questions.
When there is sufficient evidence to support a claim for permanent brain damage at birth, your solicitor will send a “Letter of Claim” to the hospital at which your child was delivered. The hospital – or, more often, the NHS Trust to which the hospital is attached – will be informed that you are claiming compensation for childbirth brain injuries and that the hospital/NHS Trust has ninety days in which to respond to the allegations. The next stage depends on whether liability is accepted or your claim is contested.
Will my Claim for Permanent Brain Damage at Birth go to Court?
If liability for your child´s brain damage is accepted, your solicitor will start settlement negotiations with the NHS Litigation Authority. The settlement of a claim for permanent brain damage at birth usually consists of a lump sum and periodic payments to account for your child´s pain and suffering, the deterioration in his or her quality of life, and the opportunities they will not be able to enjoy in the future. You will also be able to recover any expenses you have incurred, plus there will be an amount allocated for future loss of income.
If your claim is contested, your solicitor will consider the strength of the evidence supporting your claim for permanent brain damage at birth against the strength of the hospital´s defence before deciding if court proceedings should be issued. Your solicitor will discuss the option with you, but you should be aware that this stage of the process does not necessarily result in the trauma of a court hearing. Liability in medical negligence claims is often conceded at the last minute, and your solicitor will then enter into settlement negotiations.
Although you may not have to go through a court hearing, a court appearance will be necessary when your claim is resolved. This is because all settlements of compensation for childbirth brain injuries have to be approved by a judge to ensure that they are in your child´s best interests. A settlement hearing is not usually a traumatic event, and you will often receive a public apology from the hospital for your child´s brain injuries during the hearing.
For Specific Advice, Call our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau
Because of the different ways in which neonatal brain injuries can be sustained, and the impact that a permanent injury can have on your child and family, it is essential that you receive specific advice about claiming compensation for childbirth brain injuries.
We offer a service that you are invited to call and discuss the circumstances surrounding your child´s birth and the injuries your child sustained with an experienced medical negligence solicitor. The service is free of charge, and we do not ask for a commitment to pursue a claim for permanent brain damage at birth once you have spoken with us.
Our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau can be contacted at any time for discrete professional advice that will help you understand the legal process of claiming compensation for childbirth brain injuries without overawing you with legal jargon. Call us today to find out if you can make a compensation claim for permanent brain damage at birth and recover compensation for childbirth brain injuries on behalf of your child.