Birth Injury Claims
If you, or your child, have sustained an injury due to medically negligent* care during labour or your pregnancy, you may be entitled to bring a birth injury compensation claim*.
For most, the delivery of their baby is the best day of their life. Thankfully, in Ireland the vast majority of deliveries are carried out successfully, where the baby and mother are left uninjured, or at least without serious injury. Unfortunately, sometimes, the baby or the mother, or indeed both of them, can suffer serious injuries. Often these injuries can be an unavoidable consequence of the delivery, however, sometimes, they can be the result of medical negligence* during childbirth. The injuries suffered in such circumstances can have a devastating impact upon you, your child and your family.
If you believe, that you and/or your baby has received sub-standard medical care from the doctors or midwifes looking after your baby’s birth, you may potentially have a medical negligence childbirth claim*. We have particular expertise in medical negligence claims* and particularly for birth injury claims*. One of our expert medical negligence solicitors* will be happy to talk to you in relation to any concerns you may have.
What constitutes a birth injury?
A birth injury, is an injury sustained by either the child or the mother, as a result of the failure of your medical practitioner to provide the accepted standard of care throughout your pregnancy, the delivery and/or during the aftermath of childbirth.
The acceptable standard of care in child birth medical negligence cases*, is typically defined as the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional would provide a patient during pregnancy, childbirth and during the aftermath of childbirth.
Medical negligence during pregnancy*
Childbirth medical negligence* during pregnancy generally arises when an obstetrician fails to identify and diagnose conditions, diseases or infections in the mother or the baby, such as maternal infections, pre-eclampsia and diabetes. Failure to identify such conditions, resulting in serious injuries to the mother or baby may result in you having a stateable negligence childbirth claim*.
Medical negligence during childbirth*
There are many ways in which both the mother and baby can be injured as a result of medical negligence during childbirth*. The most common birth injury claims* arise out of:-
- A failure on the part of the medical practitioners to properly monitor the baby’s heartbeat and detect fetal distress;
- Failure of the medical practitioners to perform an emergency caesarean section (c-section) when required.
- Injuring the baby during delivery, as a result of pulling or twisting the baby.
- Injuries resulting from the misuse of birthing tools such as vacuums or forceps.
- Failure on the part of the medical practitioners to deliver the placenta properly.
- Failure on the part of the medical practitioner to prevent unnecessary haemorrhaging or tearing to the mother.
Medical Negligence after childbirth*
Injuries can also be caused to the mother and child after childbirth as a result of medical practitioners’: –
- Failure to monitor the baby’s oxygen levels,
- Failure to prevent and monitor afterbirth infections,
- Failure to exam the baby for jaundice;
- Failure of the medical practitioners to diagnose and treat postpartum ruptures and tears.
Types of medical issues
Following childbirth, babies can suffer from two types of medical issues, one being birth injuries and the other being birth defects. It is very important to understand the difference between the two when considering the possibility of whether there is a medical negligence childbirth claim*.
Birth injury occurs during or immediately after the delivery process and are much more likely to be the result of medical negligence, than a medical defect. That said, just because a baby is injured during birth, does not mean that the baby has a childbirth medical negligence claim*, as the majority of birth injuries are unavoidable and are no one’s fault. However, some birth injuries are avoidable and are the result of medical negligence during childbirth*. Birth injuries can vary in severity from broken bones, to significant brain injuries, such as cerebral palsy. If you baby has suffered serious life altering injuries, charities such as Enable Ireland and Temple Street do great work.
Birth defects, also known as congenital disorders are conditions present at birth that can affect almost any part of the body. Birth defects are much less likely to be as a result of negligence and as such rarely result in birth injury claims*. Birth defects occur while the baby is in the womb, with the cause either being unnatural or unknown. In rare occasions, they can result in certain toxins in medications that the mother has been prescribed during pregnancy, and this may lead to a birth injury compensation claim*, however, these instances are very rare.
Injury to the baby
Medical negligence childbirth claims* can result in an injury sustained to the baby or to the mother. Although uncommon, tragically some of the most severe medical negligence* injuries can arise during childbirth, causing life changing injuries particularly to the new-born. Childbirth medical negligence cases* can also be incredibly complex and it is therefore important that you seek the advices of an expert medical negligence childbirth solicitor.
Injuries to the baby as a result of childbirth can vary in severity. The most common childbirth medical negligence claims are:
- Fractures, particularly to the collar bone, arm and skull.
- Hip dysplasia
- Forceps or vacuum injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Brain damage internal link
- Cerebral Palsy internal link
- Erb’s Palsy internal link
Injuries to mother
Due to the horrific and sometimes tragic nature of the injuries a baby can sustain in childbirth, the mother can often be forgotten about when it comes medical negligence childbirth claims*. While mothers do not suffer the awful, although thankfully rare injuries, such as cerebal palsy or brain damage, that babies can, that does not mean the childbirth injuries they can suffer are not significant. It is also important to note, certainly from our experience, that the mother is much more likely to suffer an injury as a result of medical negligence* than the baby. These injuries can vary in severity from scarring, to long term incontinence as a result of vaginal tears or injuries to the bowel and bladder, or in tragic cases, death as a result of medical practitioners’ failure to treat or diagnose infections properly.
The most common childbirth injuries* our medical negligence solicitors see in mothers are:
- Bladder & Bowel Perforations
- Perineal and vaginal tears
- Pelvic injuries, including Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Retained Products of Conception (RPOC)
- Ruptured Uterus
- Infection/ Sepsis
- Broken Bones
- Failed Sterilisation & Wrongful conception
Whether you our your baby have been injured there in help at hand and agency such as Irish Neonatal Help Alliance do fantastic work.
Complications can occur during pregnancy, deliver and after birth. It’s important to realise that just because complications occur, does not mean that you or your baby have a medical negligence childbirth claim*. Often it is how these complications are handled, that is the key factor in deciding whether there was medical negligence.*
The most common causes of child birth injuries claims we see in babies are:
- Failure to categories a pregnancy as high risk due to previous a previous placental abruption or placenta previa or other risk factors such as diabetes.
- Failure of medical practitioners to induce or perform a C – Section where appropriate
- Failure to monitor the fetal heart rate correctly
- Failure to preform or interpret correctly ultrasounds or other such examinations
- Improper manipulation of the baby’s body during delivery
- Forceps delivery injuries
- Blunt force trauma injuries
The most common causes of child birth injuries claims we see in mothers are:
- Failure to deliver the placenta
- Third- and fourth-degree perineal tears
- Bladder and bowel perforations and more particularly the failure of medical practitioners to identify them when they occur
- Failure of medical practitioners to perform a Caesarean section when appropriate
- Avoidable nerve damage
- Sepsis and other infections
- Failing to sterilise a mother correctly
Frequently asked questions
What is the Statute of Limitations for birth injury claims?
Under the Civil Liability act a mother has two years for the date of knowledge of any potential negligence to bring a childbirth injury claims. In relations to babies the statute of limitations ‘clock’ does not start clicking until the reach the age of 18, so they have two years from that date. However, for a variety of reasons such a witness difficulties and memory lapses, we would never recommend a client to wait so long.
What are the benefits of talking to a birth injury solicitor?
From our experience, most people that come to speak to us are not looking necessarily to bring a case, but are more focused on getting answers. Although often difficult, people can deal with the fact that complications happen and that injuries do occur. What people cannot deal with, is not knowing whether those injuries were caused by medical negligence at childbirth or whether they were simply unfortunate. Our birth injury solicitors will answer those questions for you. Where there is a case, we will ensure that you are compensated appropriately. Often, however, our most relieved clients are the ones we tell that the medical treatment they received was sound.
What do I have to prove to bring a successful birth injury case?
You have to show that your medical practitioners breached their duty of care and that it resulted in an injury to you or your baby.
How do I show my childbirth injury was caused by negligence?
In order to do this, you will need to obtain an expert opinion for a suitably qualified gynaecologist/obstetrician. We work with a number of such experts in Ireland and the UK and can arrange to have such an expert opinion completed.
Why Choose Hanahoe and Hanahoe?
Hanahoe & Hanahoe Solicitors are birth injury claims specialist, with over 40 years experience. We are a multiple award-winning solicitors practice and your case will be dealt with by our managing partner, Luke Hanahoe leads our medical negligence claims* team. We have offices in Naas, Dublin, Maynooth and Portlaoise and represent clients from across the country. If you have a query in relation to childbirth injury claims or any medical negligence claim, please feel free to contact us to talk to one of our expert birth injury solicitors.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.