Solicitor and Managing Partner
Pregnancy and childbirth place the mother’s body under a huge amount of strain and, unsurprisingly, some women will suffer injuries throughout the course of their pregnancy.
This can range from vaginal tears and excessive bleeding to the risk of a uterine rupture, where the wall of the uterus tears.
While some complications are unavoidable, if the action or inaction of a healthcare professional was the cause of an injury, or makes it worse, there may be grounds to make a birth injury claim.
There is a long list of potential issues and injuries mothers may experience before, during and after childbirth. This can include (but is not limited to):
Preeclampsia is a condition that can affect both mother and baby, characterised by maternal high blood pressure and protein in the mother’s urine. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby, but medication can help treat the symptoms until the baby can be delivered safely.
As soon as preeclampsia is diagnosed, the mother should be immediately referred to a specialist and monitored for the remainder of the pregnancy. A misdiagnosis, delay in referring or poor monitoring can place both mother and baby at serious risk.
Perineal tears are injuries that many mothers will experience naturally during childbirth in varying degrees of severity. The classification of the tear may depend on the size of the newborn, their orientation at birth and whether or not medical assistance was required, among other factors.
First-degree tears are skin deep and often heal naturally on their own
Second-degree tears typically damage the muscle and skin around the perineum
In more serious cases, third-degree tears damage the anal sphincter
Severe fourth-degree tears harm the structure, muscles and lining of the rectum
Swift and precise treatment of a perineal tear is vital. A wrongly diagnosed or poorly treated perineal tear can have lifelong consequences for the mother, such as faecal incontinence and difficulty holding wind, making it difficult for them to socialise and care for their newborn.
An episiotomy may be performed to widen the vaginal opening and ease the baby’s passage. Should a healthcare professional fail to recognise the need to perform this procedure and this results in a vaginal or perineal tear, this may be considered negligent.
Furthermore, if the episiotomy is performed incorrectly, or the stitching is inaccurate or ineffective, this may also be grounds for a negligence claim.
Whether planned or an emergency procedure, there are several risks involved in a caesarean section that can emerge as a result of substandard care, including:
Failure to take adequate care provisions prior to the birth
A delay in performing the procedure, resulting in injury to the baby or mother.
The mother or baby contracting an infection post-surgery
Scarring or infection due to insufficient or ineffective stitching
Critical surgical errors that cause injury to the baby or mother
A mother during childbirth may also suffer a uterine prolapse, which is when the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch and weaken, meaning they can no longer keep the uterus in place. This is rarely life-threatening, but an out-of-position uterus can cause discomfort and negatively impact a mother's quality of life.
Bleeding is a natural part of the birthing process that every mother will experience in the days and weeks after their baby is born. Over time, the bleeding should naturally subside. However, a postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) describes a heavy bleed that can be life-threatening if not treated swiftly.
Immediate PPH involves heavy bleeding within 24 hours of birth
Delayed PPH describes a significant bleed that happens more than 24 hours after birth
If this is not addressed quickly enough, or the severity of the bleeding is underestimated, it can place the health and wellbeing of the mother in serious jeopardy.
While many birth injuries can occur despite all reasonable actions being taken, if healthcare professionals fail to monitor patients or provide substandard treatment, this can be grounds for a medical negligence claim.
To prove whether the injuries endured by a mother prior to, during or following childbirth were a result of negligence, it is important to determine:
Did one or more healthcare professionals breach their duty of care to the mother?
Did the mother suffer pain, injury, loss or damage during their treatment?
Was this suffering a direct result of the breach of care?
As experienced medical negligence specialists, we will examine all available evidence to establish whether you have a valid claim, and how much compensation you are entitled to claim for. This can include:
Medical expert opinions
If an injury is sustained before or during labour, it may impact the mother's ability to bond with her baby. The pain or discomfort could make mobility difficult, and in more serious cases, the mother may have to stay separated from their infant for a period of time to recover from treatment, which may make breastfeeding difficult to establish.
Sustaining an injury that lasts beyond childbirth can be debilitating. Depending on the type and severity of the issue, mothers could require corrective surgery, additional time off work, or assistance at home and in the community.
Of course, the impact of childbirth-related injuries is not just physical. Suffering trauma before, during or after labour can have a very significant and detrimental impact on the mental health of a mother, such as increasing the likelihood and impact of postnatal depression.
As qualified and specialised medical negligence solicitors with over 20 years experience, we are experts at handling birth injury to mother claim cases.
Our credentials and established reputation mean that hospitals and trusts are willing to work with us, and often recommend us, to seek fair outcomes for claimants to receive the compensation they deserve.
Trust us with your compensation claim and contact us today to see how we can help you.
If you or someone you care about has unfortunately suffered a maternal birth injury, navigating the legal process can be overwhelming, especially if you are trying to make a claim at the same time as looking after your newborn and other children.
To make the process of litigation as easy and stress-free as possible for you, we utilise a simple six-step process with all of our clients:
You can get in touch for a free consultation in several ways, such as completing our online form, requesting a call back or arranging a video call
If we can help with your claim we will allocate a specialist solicitor to your case
We conduct an investigation meeting to gather all available evidence
We contact relevant medical experts to better understand the series of events surrounding your injury
Once we have calculated the value of your claim, we will look to reach a settlement with the defendants outside of the courtroom
In the unlikely event that a Court hearing is required, we will support you through every step to achieve the result you deserve
We pride ourselves on being completely transparent about the process behind your claim so you know exactly what to expect.
When the happiest day of your life is marred by trauma, the medical claims compensation you could receive from a successful birth injury claim is designed to help you return to the position you were in before you were mistreated. Or, when this is not possible, support you and your family for whatever the future holds.
Compensation can be used in many ways to support you and your loved ones, including:
Adaptations to the home such as additional toilet facilities
Ongoing care and assistance
Physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and other recurring therapies
Services you can no longer complete, such as childminding or cooking
The amount of compensation awarded by the Court is determined on a case-by-case basis. A judge will consider the overall impact the injury has had on the mother, and the influence it is likely to have in the years ahead.
Be wary of any medical negligence firm that immediately provides anything more than a guesstimate of the value for your claim – this can only be accurately determined after careful examination of the evidence and discussion with relevant medical experts.
The perceived costs of pursuing a medical negligence claim can be off-putting for many. We offer our specialist legal expertise on a 'No Win No Fee' agreement, meaning your legal fees will only be paid from your reward if your claim is successful – there is no financial risk for you at any stage.
To fund litigation, legal expense insurance policies can also be arranged by our specialist solicitors. In these agreements, insurance companies foot any unforeseen costs upfront and take a share of the success fee from your final settlement.
The severity and complexity of birth injury compensation claims will vary from case to case, making it impossible to immediately offer a specific timeframe for your claim.
In most cases, we would anticipate an injury to mothers claim to take between two and five years to settle. But the pace at which a case reaches its conclusion will depend on the stance the defence takes, whether or not court proceedings are required and the availability of impartial medical experts, among other factors.
In most scenarios, there is a window of three years from the date you became aware that your injury was sustained to make a claim. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Young mothers under the age of 18 have three years from the date of their 18th birthday to make a claim, while there is no time limit for a claimant who is mentally incapacitated.
If your three-year window has expired, we would still encourage you to get in touch. Every claim is at the discretion of the Court, and we will be able to advise you on whether or not your claim is still viable during a free consultation.
If trauma before, during or following childbirth have had temporary or life-changing consequences, seeking professional legal advice from a firm you can trust will help put you on the path to the compensation you so rightly deserve.
Our specialist solicitors understand that coming to terms with a temporary or permanent birth injury can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. We strive to answer your questions as comprehensively as we can, and provide clear guidance at every step of the process, so you achieve the best possible result.
We offer our expertise on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis
96% of claims we handle are settled outside of the courtroom
Our in-house medical professionals will assist with your case
If you believe that your health or safety was compromised before, during or after birth by the oversight of medical professionals, complete our online form or get in touch and let us help secure your right to justice.
If you or a loved one have experienced a birth injury to a mother and would like to speak to someone about your options, our team is here to listen and advise you on your next steps.