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Birth Injuries* Guide

There are a multitude of reasons why complications can occur during the birth of your child – some of them natural, others not so. Many birth injuries are prevented by the skills and expertise of the medical staff attending the delivery of your child. But sometimes the health of both the mother and the baby are put at risk by a medical practitioner failing to deal with an emergency situation safely or demonstrating negligence during the delivery process.

In cases where the medical practitioner has caused an injury through a lack of care to either mother or baby, you are entitled to make birth injury claims for compensation.

Please note that a court of the appropriate jurisdiction must approve a compensation offer when it involves a child.

What Type of Birth Injuries Are There?

A baby´s body is extremely vulnerable during birth. Soft spots can be damaged by forceful or incorrect use of forceps. while the weakness of a baby´s bone structure can mean that the infant suffers a skull fracture or broken clavicle – leading to the possibility of permanent problems.

Birth injuries where the umbilical cord gets trapped, wrapped around the baby´s throat or compressed against the mother´s pelvis during delivery can starve the baby´s brain of oxygen. This can result in serious life-long health issues as cerebral palsy and brain damage – which in turn may result in physical disabilities as the brain fails to instruct certain areas of the body to develop. In prolonged cases, oxygen deprivation can be fatal.

Mothers can also be injured during the birth process – leading to birth injury claims for compensation. Many women have to have an episiotomy (an incision made to enlarge the vagina and assist with the delivery) during childbirth. If complications occur with this process, or suturing is performed incorrectly after the delivery, the result can be excessive bleeding, future rectal problems or infection.

Problems can also arise from anaesthetics used during or just after childbirth. Although a general anaesthetic may not be a usual occurrence, birth injuries to the mother can be caused if there is difficulty inserting a breathing tube once sleeping drugs have been administered and there is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Pregnant women use up oxygen more quickly, so they are at greater risk.

Making Birth Injury Claims for Compensation

Possibly the worst fear that a mother may have when giving birth is that her new born baby will not be healthy, and when either mother or baby is injured during a delivery through the negligence of the attending midwife or obstetrician, you are entitled to make birth injury claims for compensation. As a birth injury is classified as clinical negligence rather than a personal injury, the Injuries Board Ireland will decline to assess applications for birth injury claims: instead, they are dealt with by the court system.

Due to the potential gravity of birth injury claims, it is in your best interests to use the services of a solicitor with experience in such matters. Not only will the solicitor understand how traumatic an experience this has been for you, but he will be aware of the consequences that a birth injury will have on the baby through its formative years and into later life. He will engage the services of the best neonatal expert to help prepare the strongest possible case for your birth injury claim to ensure that you receive the maximum award possible so that you can provide adequate care for the birth injuries sustained by your baby.

Where the mother has been the victim of clinical negligence, the Statute of Limitations allows for two years from the date of the injury in which to make birth injury claims for compensation. A child has two years from when they reach the age of majority in which to make a claim although, due to financial requirements, it may be necessary for a parent to make the birth injury claim for compensation while they are still young. In these cases, the parent represents the child in the birth injury claim as their “next friend”.

When it is clear that there is a strong case for birth injury claims for compensation, you may be approached by a medical insurance company representing the negligent medical practitioner or practice in which they work. They will be keen to make an offer of an early settlement for your birth injury claim for compensation in order to avoid potentially damaging court action. This is another instance where you should consult with an experienced solicitor to ensure that the offer is fair and adequate for your needs: if not, ask him to negotiate on your behalf.

Further Information about Birth Injury Claims for Compensation

If you or your baby have been injured during the delivery process, and you need to know more about birth injury claims for compensation, you are invited to call our legal claims advice helpline. Our service is manned by solicitors experienced in claims for birth injury compensation. You can discuss your circumstances with them, get supportive and helpful, practical advice, and there is no obligation on you to make a birth injury claim for compensation once you have spoken with us. Our lines are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Being pregnant and giving birth should be one of the happiest experiences of your life. It is unfortunate when injuries are sustained during the delivery process, but when these injuries are due to the negligence of the medical practitioner who is supposed to have a duty of care for you and your newborn, it is appropriate that you make a birth injury claim for compensation.

All calls to our legal claims advice helpline are totally confidential and the information we provide is both up-to-date and resourceful. You are welcome to ask us any questions about making birth injury claims for compensation but we would ask that you refrain from using this service if you have already engaged a solicitor, as it is unethical for us to give second opinions. Thank you.