Claiming compensation for injuries to a mother during birth is not something you often hear about outside of the legal and medical professions, but it happens more frequently than you may think. There are many different circumstances in which a mother can suffer avoidable childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence, and some of them can have devastating effects on the bonding between mother and child.
In order to successfully claim compensation for injuries to a mother during birth, it has to be shown that the injuries were avoidable “at the time and in the circumstances” and were due to a poor professional performance by the healthcare professional involved. This is not always straightforward, as childbirth can be a painful experience in any circumstances, and the pain caused by the injury may have been masked by the pain of childbirth.
This article provides information about the process for claiming compensation for injuries to a mother during birth but, as no two claims for childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence are identical, the information may not be entirely relevant in every circumstance. For this reason it is recommended that you seek professional legal advice that is applicable to your particular situation from a medical negligence solicitor.
Examples of Childbirth Injuries due to Hospital Negligence
The list of all possible childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence is extensive. Abnormal bleeding due to a uterine rupture or placental abruption, broken bones, bruising, Caesarean Section procedure gone wrong, infections, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, vaginal tears or lacerations, or wrongful death of the mother are just a selection of injuries that can sustained before, during or after childbirth.
Traumatic births can also result in psychological injuries. A higher prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been identified in mothers who give birth in traumatic circumstances; and, although there is some duplication of the symptoms with postnatal depression, healthcare professionals should be aware of the possibility of PTSD and refer mothers for specialist care when the symptoms manifest.
When the injuries sustained by a mother during childbirth could have been avoided with greater care, it may be possible to claim compensation for injuries to a mother during birth. In order for the claim to be successful, a medical expert will have find proof that “on the balance of probabilities” the injuries were due to an act or omission by a healthcare professional that deviated from the accepted standard of care in the medical community.
How to Claim Compensation for Injuries to a Mother during Birth
To start a claim for compensation for injuries to a mother during birth, the first thing you should do is speak with a solicitor. The solicitor will ask you to describe the childbirth injuries you sustained and explain why you feel that they may be attributable to hospital negligence. If the solicitor believes you have a claim for childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence which is worth your while to pursue, he or she will ask for your authorisation to access your medical records.
Your medical records will be reviewed by an independent medical expert, who will determine the strength of your claim. Elements of your claim that will be taken into consideration include “causation” – how the injury could have occurred – and “liability” – effectively finding out who, if anybody, was at fault and in breach of their duty of care. It has to be remembered that injuries can occur during childbirth that are not preventable “at the time and in the circumstances”.
When there is sufficient evidence of childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence, your solicitor will send a “Letter of Claim” to the hospital – or, more often, to the NHS Trust to which the hospital is attached – informing them that you are claiming compensation for injuries to a mother during birth. The NHS Trust has ninety days in which to respond to the “Letter of Claim”, and what happens next depends on whether they NHS Trust accepts liability for your injuries or contests your claim.
Will there be Court Action or a Negotiated Settlement?
If liability for your injuries is accepted, your solicitor will enter into settlement negotiations with the NHS Trust to resolve your claim for the maximum you are entitled to. Settlements of compensation for injuries to a mother during birth should account for your physical pain and suffering, any psychological injuries that have been diagnosed, the deterioration in your quality of life and any related expenses you have incurred – or may incur in the future.
If liability for your injuries is contested, your solicitor will weigh up the strength of the evidence supporting your claim and the strength of the hospital´s defence before deciding whether to issue court proceedings. This stage of the litigation process does not necessarily mean that you will have to go through the stress of a court hearing for your claim to be successful. Liability in hospital negligence cases is often admitted at the last minute, and your solicitor will then enter into settlement negotiations.
Unlike compensation claims for childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence when a child has been injured, you only have three years from the “date of knowledge” of an injury to start a claim. Although three years may appear to be a long time, it can quickly be exhausted if your claim for compensation for injuries to a mother during birth is particularly complicated. This is why we recommend that you seek legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
For Specific Advice, Call our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau
It was mentioned above that no two claims for childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence are identical. This is because the impact that an injury has on an individual´s physical, emotional and financial status is completely unique. Therefore, in order to provide specific advice for individual circumstances, we have established a Medical Negligence Advice Bureau that you are invited to call at any time to discuss the injuries that you sustained before, during or immediately after your child´s birth.
The service provided by our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau is free of charge, and we do not ask for a commitment to pursue compensation for injuries to a mother during birth once you have spoken with us. Our service is there to help you understand the legal process of claiming compensation for childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence and not to overawe you with legal jargon.
Call us today for discrete, professional advice about claiming compensation for injuries to a mother during birth and find out whether you are eligible to make a claim for childbirth injuries due to hospital negligence.