Birth Injury Compensation
There are about 750,000 births in the UK, every year. The majority of these occur without any significant issues. However, the devastating consequences for the minority who do face complications means they cannot be ignored.
In 2018 0.4% of births were stillbirths. And a further 0.28% of babies who survived birth, died before reaching 28 days old. Additionally, many more babies are left with life changing injuries, like cerebral palsy, and some mothers go through traumatic experiences.
Although not all injuries are due to medical negligence, where poor treatment has caused injuries, it can add to the suffering of those affected.
For this reason, helping families with birth injury claims takes a special set of skills, which many solicitors do not have. As well as being knowledgeable, our team are experienced and empathetic. Led by partners with Law Society Clinical Negligence and Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) accreditations, our Lexcel accredited team have obtained families millions of pounds in compensation; helping them to get their lives back on track after negligent medical treatment.
Because Pryers has Lexcel accreditation, so has been independently assessed as achieving the Law Society’s standard for excellence, we can even fund your birth injury claim using Legal Aid. If you don’t qualify for Legal Aid, we will advise you for free whether we can help you claim compensation on a no win no fee basis.
Just call us on 1904556600 to see how we can help you. Alternatively, you can contact us by email.
What is a birth injury?
A birth injury is an injury that the mother or baby can sustain during the late stages of pregnancy. They are most common during labour and delivery.
Minor injuries are not uncommon, so most medical staff are good at treating them. But sometimes more severe injuries can occur.
An injury itself is not evidence of negligence – it will depend on what caused the injury. If the injury was caused by negligence, or an injury was treated negligently, you might be able to claim compensation. Pryers help clients claim compensation on a no win no fee basis, or using Legal Aid.
What are the main causes of birth injuries?
Many things can injure mother or baby during late pregnancy, labour and delivery. Some of the most common causes of childbirth injuries are:
- Lack of oxygen to the baby
- Poor decision making by healthcare professionals
- Medical negligence
Are birth injury claims common?
Birth injury claims are not common. Less than 1% of births in England and Wales result in a medical negligence claim.
Of all the medical negligence claims made against the NHS, birth injury claims made up 9% in 2019/20. This is comparable to other common areas of medicine, like emergency medicine and orthopaedics. However, the complexity of birth injury claims, as well as the severity and duration of the injuries in the more severe cases, means they made up 50% of the NHS’s costs for compensation claims in the same year.
How do I make a birth injury claim?
Birth injury claims involve complex areas of law. In addition to knowledge of the legal process you will need evidence from experts in the relevant fields to confirm that the treatment was negligent.
Although you can technically make a claim yourself, it would be advisable to seek legal representation. Pryers help most of our clients on a no win no fee agreement. If you qualify, Pryers are also able to represent you using Legal Aid. Call us on 1904556600 or email us for a free consultation to see how we can help you.
How much does it cost to make a birth injury claim?
If you ask Pryers to help you with your birth injury claim you will not have to pay anything up front. Generally, in claims for children, we don’t even charge anything for our work at the end, either.
There are two ways to fund a birth injury claim, with Pryers:
Make a childbirth claim on a no win no fee basis
No win no fee agreements are formally known as Conditional Fee Agreements. They are the most common way to fund medical negligence claims and how we help most of our clients. They give you the chance to pursue a claim with minimal financial risk; if you do not get any compensation, you will not have to pay anything, as we agree not to charge you anything for our work and an insurance policy will cover any other costs that you might be responsible for. It’s not a problem if you don’t already have legal expenses insurance; we can help you get a special policy which will protect you from other legal costs and will not need to be paid for unless you get compensation.
If you get compensation, we will only then charge up to a maximum of 25% of your compensation. Although this charge may be waived for children’s claims. There may be an additional sum for the legal expenses insurance. We will advise you about what costs are relevant to your claim if you instruct us.
Fund a childbirth claim with Legal Aid
Birth injury claims are one of the few areas of law where you can still fund a claim with Legal Aid, and Pryers are one of the select firms that can help people on Legal Aid.
We will assess your situation at the start, for free, and advise you whether you meet the criteria. If we cannot help you with Legal Aid, we might be able to help on a no win no fee agreement. Call us on 1904556600 or email us, if you’d like us to do an assessment.
How much birth injury compensation will I receive?
Compensation is intended to put you, as close as possible, back to where you would have been if the negligence had not happened. The amount of compensation you can claim is based on the nature, extent and duration of your injury. This is why everybody receives different amounts of compensation.
When making a claim on a no win no fee basis, compensation awards start from a few thousand pounds and can go up to tens of millions of pounds. Children who sustain injures during birth can receive some of the highest awards, because they can be left needing lifelong care. This is why, despite the number of claims being made for birth injuries being similar to other areas of medicine, they make up 50% of the NHS’s costs, according to their 2019/20 accounts.
Evidence from experts helps determine exactly how much compensation you should receive. But as a general rule, the more impact the negligence has had on your life, the more compensation you are likely to receive. The purpose of compensation is to put you back, as close as possible, to where you would have been if the negligence had not happened. You can therefore claim compensation for injuries and any financial losses.
What are the different types of birth injury negligence?
These are some of the most common childbirth medical negligence claims we see:
Injuries to the child that can be caused by birth injury negligence
- Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition which affects about one in 400 babies in the UK and can be caused by negligence.
- Erb’s Palsy, sometimes known as an obstetric brachial plexus injury, is a paralysis to the arm, which can be caused by negligence during labour.
- Group B Streptococcus is a bacteria. Failing to recognise babies at risk of, or suffering from, Group Streptococcus B infection, can lead to them suffering serious injuries.
- General trauma, such as cuts, bruises and broken bones can be caused negligently during childbirth. Although, sometimes they are unavoidable and therefore not negligent.
- Negligent screening or lack of screening, can lead to conditions being missed, or parents not being told about them.
- Death and stillbirth can happen before, or during labour. If it was due to negligence you can claim compensation for the loss of a loved one.
Injuries to the mother that can be caused by birth injury negligence
- Infections, if not diagnosed and managed properly can result in serious injuries.
- Surgical injuries can be sustained during a caesarean section.
- Episiotomies can be performed negligently.
- Vaginal tears can be caused by negligent treatment, or treated negligently.
- Blood loss, caused by post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) needs to be managed quickly and efficiently, to limit the amount of blood that is lost.
You cannot claim compensation for every injury that occurs during childbirth; some injuries are unavoidable, and not caused by those caring for you. Giving birth is a complex process, it is usually one of the rare times in your life when you regularly encounter healthcare professionals. This means that there are various areas where negligence can happen, such as; poor management of pre-eclampsia, placenta previa or prematurity, excessive use of force during delivery and poor monitoring during pregnancy, labour and delivery.
As with any claim for medical negligence you need to be able to show that negligent treatment caused the injury. Alternatively, if negligent treatment makes an unavoidable injury worse, you can claim compensation.
How long do I have to make a birth injury claim?
The normal rules for making a medical negligence claim apply to birth injury claims. This means that adults who have capacity to instruct a solicitor, have three years from the date that they realise they were injured by poor medical treatment, to make a claim.
If you are under 18 years of age at the time you were injured by poor medical treatment, you have three years from your 18th birthday to make the claim. The parents of a child can help someone under 18 make a claim.
If the injured person lacks the mental capacity to instruct a solicitor, the three years will not run until they gain capacity.
In law ‘making the claim’ means starting the formal court process (known as ‘issuing proceedings’). Because several things ideally need doing before the court process can begin, it’s best not to wait until too close to the time limit; it is always best to act sooner rather than later. Since birth injuries can be life changing, we help many clients who have not recovered, and some who never will. If you suspect you have a claim, we encourage you to contact us today, to make a start.
What happens when I make a claim for a birth injury?
We start with you, finding out exactly what has happened and how it has affected you and/or your child. Then, we will help you put this information into a witness statement that can be used as evidence in your claim. We also obtain all the relevant medical records to identify the care you received.
We will then liaise with an expert in the relevant area of medicine to ascertain whether the treatment was negligent. In more serious or complex claims we might need to speak with multiple experts in various fields – but we will take care of all of this for you. Our experts will also outline your prognosis, helping us understand if and when you will recover. This tells us what treatment you may need in the future.
Once we have enough evidence, we will write to whoever is responsible for the negligence. In a birth injury claim, this will usually be the NHS Trust where the treatment took place. Our letter will set out what we think they did wrong and what the consequences of this were. We must then give the NHS Trust time to respond. Depending on how they respond will determine the next steps.
If they accept fault for the birth injury
In claims involving more serious injuries, we will try to get an interim payment. This will be an upfront payment of part of the compensation we would expect to recover for you; it can be used to pay for things like treatment, mobility aids or accommodation needs.
We will gather evidence of the losses that their negligence caused. The NHS Trust might also want to get their own evidence in this respect. Once there is enough evidence, we will begin settlement negotiations. Sometimes a settlement can be agreed fairly quickly, but it’s not uncommon – especially in more complex claims – for this to take some work. Sometimes we will just need to meet the NHS and their experts, and others might need to involve the court process.
If they deny fault for the birth injury
We will consider their response with our expert(s). Providing that we and the expert(s) still think that your treatment was negligent, we will continue with your claim. We will start by challenging the denial and gather any additional evidence needed to do this.
Once we have the evidence we need, and if we cannot get the NHS Trust to accept fault, we will issue the claim at court. This is the first stage of taking the claim to a trial, so a judge can decide if the treatment was negligent. The stages before trial can take a considerable amount of time to complete. This is because the court process encourages both sides to exchange evidence, which often leads to one side changing their stance.
Sometimes, the other side will never accept fault, but still offer to pay compensation. So, most claims do not actually go to trial.
You can find out more in our what happens when I make a negligence claim guide.
Why trust Pryers Solicitors with your birth trauma claim?
Birth injury claims can be some of the most complex and sensitive medical negligence claims. So, it’s important that you choose a firm of solicitors with experience and empathy, who really know what they’re doing. Pryers have experts in the field, with years of experience helping a huge range of people, in all types of birth injury claims.
Pryers have an excellent track record of proudly helping many mothers and babies claim compensation for birth injuries. You can read about some of the clients we’ve helped in the past in our birth injury success stories. You can also read some of our former clients’ reviews on Google reviews.
Additionally, Pryers’ team, headed by partners who have Law Society Clinical Negligence and Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) accreditation are proud to have Lexcel accreditation. Lexcel is the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark. It shows that we have been assessed as meeting the Law Society’s standards for excellence in client care, compliance and practice management.
Talk to us today on 1904556600, or email us for a free consultation. Our team will advise you for free whether we can help you claim compensation on a no win no fee basis, or using Legal Aid. Don’t wait any longer to get the answers that you deserve.