Birth injury cases include injury to the mother, the baby, or both. Many are unavoidable but some result from medical negligence, meaning a claim may be possible. Such cases tend to be complex because of the legal and medical technicalities involved, including expert advice on long-term needs.
Although cerebral palsy is the most common birth injury claim, there are many other types of birth injury, including varying degrees of damage to the brain, scarring or damage caused during assisted delivery (e.g. forceps). We have been successful in birth injury claims involving:
- Maternal infection
- Cord prolapse
- Cord compression
- Uterine rupture
- Ruptured placenta
- Delay in delivery
- Shoulder dystocia
We also have cases where there is negligence in the immediate neonatal period, for example where there has been hypoglycaemia (low glucose due to difficulty feeding) and Kernicterus (jaundice), and brain damage can be caused.
Our medical negligence solicitors have successfully concluded many high value birth injury cases. We are expert in achieving maximum awards to fund rehabilitation, care, support, therapies and education. Because we need to ensure the child is old enough for us to assess lifelong needs, these cases can take time to conclude. However, we can obtain interim payments to ensure that urgent and pressing needs can be met as soon as possible.
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Birth injury claims FAQs
There are different types of birth injury. Sometimes these are short-lived, but in cases such as cerebral palsy, the injuries are permanent, causing life-long disability. Our birth injury lawyers bring compensation claims for clients in claims for birth injuries to children, birth injuries to mothers and wrongful birth.
Birth injuries to children
Birth injuries can occur naturally but may also result from substandard medical care during pregnancy, labour or after delivery. These can include:
Birth injuries caused during pregnancy
- Undiagnosed gestational diabetes
- Placental or uterine abruption
- Undetected pre-eclampsia
- Undiagnosed infections e.g. Group B Streptococcus (GBS)
- Wrongful birth (undetected birth defects that may have led to a termination of the pregnancy if the mother had been made aware of them)
Birth injuries caused during labour
- Failure to monitor the baby's heart rate or act on heart rate abnormalities
- Delay in delivery
- Incorrect management of shoulder dystocia
- Sub-standard instrumental delivery (forceps or ventouse)
- Failure to differentiate between maternal and fetal heart rate
- Failure to act on signs of abnormal labour
Birth injuries caused after delivery
- Delay in resuscitation
- Failure to treat severe postnatal jaundice (kernicterus)
- Undiagnosed hip dysplasia
- Undiagnosed hypoglycaemia
- Failure to diagnose sepsis
- Failure to diagnose hydrocephalus
- Fetal lacerations/broken bones
- Failure to diagnose infection, e.g meningitis
About Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy can be associated with birth injury and affects body movement, muscle coordination and can also affect cognitive ability. There are different types of cerebral palsy, including:
- Ataxic cerebral palsy
- Spastic cerebral palsy
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
It is important to confirm the diagnosis and ask whether your child has hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or neonatal asphyxia. Often babies with these conditions are cooled after birth.
Symptoms usually become apparent during the first three years of a child's life.
Birth injuries to mothers
Childbirth can be a traumatic event. Mothers can be injured during childbirth, for example due to:
- Failure to recognise that the mother is carrying a large baby leading to fourth degree tears. Sometimes the tear is not recognised at the time or is not repaired effectively and the mother is left with faecal incontinence and faecal urgency.
- Failure to diagnose uterine rupture
- Failure to treat bleeding or haemorrhage after delivery, which can lead to a condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), with tragic consequences
Our experienced medical negligence solicitors understand the trauma of maternal injuries and will be sensitive to what you have been through. Our specialist solicitors will support you in bringing a claim for the devastating consequences of your injuries and will help you access appropriate therapies. Find out more about birth injuries to mothers.
Birth injuries to parents
During a traumatic delivery parents can suffer as well as their baby. In some circumstances the Court will award compensation for these injuries.
During pregnancy you will be offered routine screening to test for birth defects or specific screening to tests for genetic conditions. Where screening has failed to identify these conditions as a result of substandard care our birth injury solicitors can advise you on bringing a claim for wrongful birth.
According to the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists National Quality Improvement Programme 'Every Baby Counts', annually in the UK, more than a thousand babies die or are left with severe brain injury, not because they are born too soon or too small or have a congenital abnormality but because something goes wrong during labour.
The report identified an average of seven critical contributory factors for each baby where different care might have changed the outcome. It was recognised that in almost half (45%) of babies affected, guidelines and best practice were not followed.
You may be concerned that by bringing a claim for compensation, medical staff, working hard for the NHS, may be left out of pocket. This is not the case because any final award of compensation is paid from a separate scheme specifically set up for patients who suffer harm as a result of medical mistakes.
You might also be worried that claiming compensation will affect ongoing and future care you receive. By increasing awareness of substandard care, poor practice and failure to follow guidelines, patients are helping to highlight areas where improvements are needed, hopefully preventing others from suffering a similar experience.
By providing you with expert support and legal advice, our birth injury solicitors aim to get you the answers you need and to make daily life for you and your child easier to manage.
Our specialist medical negligence lawyers work with you and our medical experts to obtain compensation so you can improve your family's quality of life. We have years of experience in bringing together case managers, therapists and support workers, making real and practical changes to our clients' lives.
This may involve helping you to adapt your home to improve your child's access, securing funding for professional care, ensuring you have the aids and equipment your child needs and guaranteeing financial security for the future so that you know your child will be cared for in later life.
You can bring a claim for compensation for a birth injury to you or your child as a result of medical negligence. If your child has been injured due to mistakes by the medical staff caring for you before, during or after giving birth, you may be entitled to make a claim on their behalf. Our specialist birth injury lawyers can advise you on the way forward.
Often parents are not aware that their child has a birth injury until sometime after they arrive home from the hospital. Signs and symptoms can initially be quite subtle and the doctors and midwives looking after you will often be optimistic about your child's prospects of recovery from any birth trauma.
Most families who contact Fieldfisher for advice are unsure if they have received substandard care, but have questions about their birth experience. By contacting one of our birth injury lawyers, you will be taking the first steps to finding answers to your questions and securing substantial lifetime compensation for your child.
If you or your child have been injured as a result of substandard care during pregnancy and birth you may be able to claim compensation.
Birth injuries are complex and, understandably, extremely difficult for parents and children to come to terms with. Our birth injury lawyers will discuss your experience with you and advise on a potential claim. Our partners are all medical negligence specialists accredited by the Law Society or AVMA. We are recognised as pioneers in pursuing and winning difficult birth injury claims and securing early compensation for care and rehabilitation.
Call us on 0800 358 3848 to speak to a specialist birth injury solicitor today.
Many of our clients contact us several years after their child was born because it can take several years for injuries to become apparent, for a formal diagnosis to be made or for the family to link the injuries to events at birth. Parents often approach us as they start to consider how their child will be cared for in the future. So long as we receive instructions before your child's 21st birthday (later if they lack mental capacity) we can to investigate a claim.
If you are making a claim for yourself or in respect of a child who has died as a result of a birth injury or was stillborn, you have three years from the date of negligence or date of death to make a claim.
There are several ways to fund your birth injury claim and while most of our clients instruct us on a No Win No Fee basis, we also act for clients with Before the Event Insurance (Legal Expense cover).
Under a No Win No Fee Agreement, you only pay legal costs if you win compensation. If your claim is unsuccessful, you do not pay anything. If you are awarded compensation, most of the costs are paid by the other side (the defendant). Please contact our medical negligence team to discuss funding of your claim. Our initial advice is free.
Most of our clients choose to instruct us under a No Win No Fee agreement.
If your claim succeeds, your solicitor will make the agreed deduction from the overall settlement awarded. This will be agreed with you at the outset. If your claim fails and you do not recover compensation, you will not be charged for any of that work. You will always be advised of alternative methods of funding before entering into a No Win No Fee agreement.
Any deductions from an award of compensation to a child with a birth injury or lacking capacity will be approved by the Court, so you can be assured that any deductions are fair.
If you would like to claim compensation for a birth injury, contact any of our specialist medical negligence solicitors for a free initial consultation. Our birth injury lawyers will listen to you, discuss your experience and advise on a potential claim.
If you received your treatment from a private healthcare provider you can still bring a claim.
Private medical professionals have their own insurance to meet compensation awards where medical negligence has caused injury. If you believe your GP or private healthcare provider has provided substandard care during pregnancy, birth or the period after your baby was born, please contact us or call one of our specialist birth injury solicitors.
Our birth injury solicitors will work tirelessly to achieve a compensation award to provide your child with funds for care, aids, equipment, accommodation and other financial losses. How much compensation depends on:
- The nature and extent of your child's injury.
- Your child's care needs.
- The cost of medical treatment, therapies, transport, care, adaptations to accommodation.
- Loss of earnings and loss of pension contribution.
- Costs of appointing a Professional Deputy to help you manage your compensation award and ensure it lasts for as long as your child needs care.
Medical treatment, rehabilitation, long-term care, and adaptations to property are all part and parcel of the claim made on your child's behalf. If the claim is successful we will make sure your claim covers what you need and ask for this as part of your settlement.
Our specialist birth injury lawyers will secure interim funding to allow a support package to be put in place at an early stage where an admission of liability has been made.
Yes. Our birth injury solicitors work with you, case managers and therapists to ensure you receive the right support. Our professional deputyship team will also work with you to prepare a long-term care plan for your child.
Where early funding is not available, we will help you access support services from charities we work with to help your child begin their recovery from the start of their case.
The NHS Early Notification Scheme (also known as the ENS) investigates when a baby suffers serious brain injury at birth. It was set up to begin investigations into birth injuries as soon as possible after the birth and to provide early answers to the families of children affected. See our dedicated ENS page for more information.
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