Childbirth Injury Claims

Childbirth Injuries

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In the vast majority of cases, childbirth is a natural physiological event that does not pose a risk to the health of a mother or baby. However, assisted births have become more common either by way of caesarean section, forceps delivery or other medical interventions.  In a significant number of cases, the outcomes of such births are not positive and occasionally result in injuries to the baby or the mother.

These childbirth injuries can be caused by pregnancy mismanagement, delivery, or aftercare. Sometimes, the injuries are not discovered immediately at birth instead the injuries become clear months or years after birth.

If during labour you are subject to medical negligence which results in you or your baby sustaining injuries, you may be entitled to claim compensation. 

What are the causes of childbirth injury?

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Not all births go to plan. Doctors do have to deal with the difficult delivery of babies throughout their careers. 

However, a problematic delivery is something an experienced doctor should be able to handle. Enabling them to reduce the risk of any unwanted injury to both mother and baby. Unfortunately, in some cases, the actions or inactions of medical professionals involved in delivering the baby can lead to injuries to the baby or the mother. 

Some examples of medical negligence that can lead to childbirth injury are:

  • Incorrect interpretation of ultrasound.
  • Failure to perform the necessary tests and examinations during pregnancy.
  • Prescription of the wrong medication during pregnancy.
  • Inability to track the baby’s heart rate.
  • Failure to deal with an emergency adequately.
  • Incorrect use of forceps during delivery.
  • Blunt force trauma to baby or mother.
  • Delayed birth – When the baby remains in the birth canal for too long. Leading to injury from the prolonged pressure from the birth canal on the baby’s brain.
  • Improper manipulation of the baby’s body during delivery.

The most common childbirth injuries that affect the baby

Injuries to an infant as a result of medical malpractice can result in different complications for the infant. Often, these childbirth traumas can have long-term effects on the child’s quality of life.

Some of the most common reason for childbirth malpractice cases are:

  • Brain Damage.
  • Forceps and Vacuum Extractor Injuries.
  • Forceps injury.
  • Perinatal Asphyxia – where a newborn does not receive enough oxygen.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries.
  • Pelvic injuries during birth.
  • Facial Paralysis.
  • Erb Palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Injury which is damage to the nerves that send signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand.
  • Fractures to collarbone, arm or skull.
  • Seizures.
  • Cerebral Palsy.
  • Erbs palsy.
  • Untreated jaundice, kernicterus and hyperbilirubinemia.

The most common childbirth injuries that affect the mother

Injury to the mother can be sustained prior to, during or following the birth. These injuries can be a result of medical negligence. Inadequate medical care can result in these complications:

  • Pregnancy malpractice/maternal birth injuries – mismanagement of the pregnancy.
  • Vaginal tears or lacerations.
  • Pelvic injuries during birth.
  • Broken bones.
  • Ruptured uterus.
  • Complications caused by delivery using forceps.
  • Abnormal bleeding caused by medical negligence.
  • Incontinence.
  • Damage to bowel or bladder.
  • Nerve damage after giving birth.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Wrongful death of the mother.
  • Forceps Injury.
  • Incorrect caesarean section.
  • Infection.
  • Pre-eclampsia or eclampsia.
  • Improper stitching following caesarean section.

Compensation for childbirth injury claims

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As with all medical negligence, claims settlement varies between cases. The following may be taken into account when assessing each case.

  • Impact the injury has on the quality of life of the child or mother
  • Earnings lost if you are absent from work
  • Future earnings lost as a result of the injury
  • Medical cost for treatment of the injury
  • Future medical costs, if long-term treatment is needed
  • Out of pocket expenses, like travel costs
  • Psychological injuries

How to make a childbirth injury claim

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To bring a medical negligence case for, you must prove that the injuries you have suffered would not have occurred if the treatment you received had not been substandard, as defined by law.

To prove this, you must have all relevant medical records and documentation relating to your case. Such records will enable your medical expert to demonstrate the negligence of your treatment.

1. Speak with a Solicitor

If you feel the medical treatment you were afforded during your pregnancy resulted in an injury to you or your baby; you may be entitled to claim compensation. However, bear in mind that medical negligence is a complex topic in Irish law. As such, it is highly recommended that you speak with a medical negligence specialist solicitor to discuss your case. They will ensure all the required details are taken care of and that your claims procedure is not delayed.

2. Medical Records

Next, the medical negligence specialist solicitor will request access to your medical records. They will do this to establish whether the injuries were caused as a result of the malpractice of the medical professional who oversaw your prenatal care, pregnancy, delivery or aftercare. 

An independent medical expert will then assess your medical records. This expert will help determine whether the medical practitioner provided substandard medical care and whether the outcome could have been avoided had they been performed by a competent doctor.

3. Letter of Claim

Finally, your solicitor will draft a Letter of Claim to the medical practitioner who treated you and your baby. This letter is standard in medical negligence cases and will outline the nature of your case. The Letter of Claim will also invite your medical practitioner to settle your case. Their response to the letter will determine whether your case will be settled outside of court or is brought to a judge.

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