Maternity negligence claims
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Our specialist solicitors can support you if mistakes are made in maternity care.
We have extensive experience in providing legal support relating to errors in pregnancy, labour and neonatal care.
We understand that pursuing legal action may be the last thing you want to do, but it may also be the only way to get answers and the help you need.
We support mums and families who have been harmed or injured during pregnancy, labour and post-natal care. We also help when a baby has been harmed due to a birth injury or maternity care.
We understand how difficult it can be to consider pursuing legal action and how much you may already be dealing with. Our solicitors are experienced in supporting families through the most difficult of times, including stillbirth and neonatal death, fatal injury to mums and cases resulting in serious birth injury to mums and children. We’re here to provide support, information and advice at your pace.
We help families to secure compensation as well as answers and assurances that mistakes will not be repeated.
Maternity and pregnancy compensation claims we support
We support with all types of pregnancy and maternity claims, relating to injury to families, mums and children.
A valid clinical negligence compensation case arises when a clinician does not follow guidelines or fails to act as they could reasonably be expected to and that results in harm.
There have been cases in some maternity care settings of recurrent errors, staff shortages and training failures.
Examples of maternity-related cases where we may be able to offer support include:
- perineal tears, including due to episiotomy
- mistakenly performed episiotomies or mistakes in suturing them
- errors in the management of pre-eclampsia
- excessive haemorrhage / postpartum haemorrhage
- failure to deliver the placenta / retained placenta
- vesico-vaginal fistulas – a hole between the bladder and the vagina that lets urine constantly flow out
- deep vein thrombosis – blood clots that can travel around the body and prove fatal
- birth defects and wrongful birth
- bladder and bowel damage as a result of mismanaged labour
- failures to detect or delays in detecting an ectopic pregnancy or misdiagnosed miscarriage
- failures in advice around caesarean and vaginal deliveries and risks involved
- anaesthesia or epidural failures or injury
- surgical errors
- psychological harm to women due to mistakes during labour, pregnancy or postnatal care
- failures to recognise and manage placenta previa
- avoidable uterine rupture
- harm to mum due to failure to admit to the maternity ward
- retained surgical instruments or swabs in caesareans
- damage to organs in caesareans
- cases of serious injury, brain damage, nerve damage or paralysis as a result of mismanaged labour
- death in childbirth and stillbirth
- birth injuries to babies
- other gynaecology treatment related incidents
We can also support in cases where harm arises due to failures to follow NICE guidelines on the care of women with pre-existing conditions or obstetric complications, such as:
- heart disease, bleeding disorders and subarachnoid haemorrhage or arteriovenous malformation of the brain
- asthma, long-term steroid use
- sepsis and intrapartum haemorrhage
- small or large baby
If you or your partner suffered harm during pregnancy, labour or maternity care and you are concerned procedures may not have been correctly followed or that the injury suffered may have been avoidable, we’re happy to speak to you. We can offer guidance on what you can do. For advice and information, please do get in touch for an informal, no-obligation discussion.
Perineal Tear Claims
A perineal tear is a tear of the skin or tissue in the area that separates the vagina and the anus (perineum). There are certain factors that can increase the risk of perineal tear happening. This can include:-
- Large baby
- Induction of labour
- Assistant delivery (forceps or ventouse)
- Pushing for a long time
- Shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the pubic bone)
- An episiotomy (an intentional cut in the perineum to allow the baby to come through easier).
Whilst a tear can occur naturally during childbirth and is often unavoidable, there are times when the tear should have been prevented either before or during childbirth. Alternatively, a tear can be misdiagnosed, not repaired properly and sometimes even completely missed. In these circumstances, this could give rise to a claim for negligence.
The effects from a perineal tear can be devastating. Physically, it can result in varying degrees of bowel and/or bladder incontinence and psychologically it can have long lasting effects including PTSD, anxiety, post-natal depression and have an impact on relationships.
We understand that it can be a difficult subject to talk about, and many of our clients tell us that they have suffered in silence for a long time. However, we can help explore what has happened and get you answers. In addition, compensation can make a huge difference if you have had to give up work or wish to undergo private treatment.
We’re corporate partners with the MASIC Foundation, the charity for mothers with anal sphincter injuries in childbirth. If you’re in need of more information about perineal tears or the support available, visit their site to find out how they can help.
What can maternity negligence claim compensation be used for?
Damages paid for negligence claims are intended to compensate for the harm and suffering caused and to cover the costs incurred as a result of the damage done.
This can include loss of earnings, payments to cover the cost of remedial care that may not be available on the NHS, counselling, home adaptations and specialist equipment.
Where a mother or baby suffers long term damage or serious birth injury, costs of care and loss of earnings might be lifelong, and will be substantial.
SANDRA WAS PRESSURED INTO TRYING A VAGINAL DELIVERY DESPITE THE POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS.
Damages for mum who was pressured to have a vaginal delivery
We supported Sandra* to secure £150,000 compensation when she was pressured to have a vaginal delivery and it resulted in severe injury.
Sandra had been told when she was 30 weeks pregnant that a vaginal birth carried risks for her due to her baby being very large and she decided to opt for a caesarean when the time came to deliver her baby.
Later, she attended hospital believing her waters had broken and was seen by a different doctor who pressured her to opt for a vaginal delivery.
Sandra and her baby suffered. Her baby was found to be acidotic (his blood was too acidic) and was born in a very poor condition. Sandra’s bladder and uterus ruptured and required surgical repair.
Sandra was told that further pregnancies should be avoided due to the severe trauma to her uterus and she underwent sterilisation and her womb was removed (hysterectomy). She now suffers from problems with her bladder and bowels and requires regular laxatives. She has bad scarring to her stomach and required counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-natal depression.
*Name has been changed
What amounts to midwife negligence?
Midwives can be negligent if they fail follow proper procedures or if they make a mistake. They are human and it happens. Sometimes wards are not properly staff or training has not been properly given and that can lead to negligence too.
Sometimes a dangerous or unhealthy culture has formed on a maternity ward or among a group of midwives, such as around a sense that vaginal birth is best and caesareans needing to be avoided. Fortunately this is rare, but endemic failures have been found at some maternity units in Britain recently.
Midwife negligence can result in harm to either a mother or child or both.
If your midwife has failed to spot signs of something that they should have done or failed to take appropriate action to avoid harm to you or your baby, it could mean they were negligent. In order for midwife negligence to be proven, it must be shown that there were failings and they caused harm. Sadly, when midwife negligence does occur it can be devastating for all involved.
If you are unsure if your midwife was negligent, we can advise. Do contact us.
How do I know if my labour was mismanaged?
It is important to ask questions and seek advice if you are concerned your labour may have been mismanaged.
Seeking answers and explanations can feel stressful, but hospitals and midwives should be open to the conversation, especially if you or your baby has suffered a birth injury.
If you don’t feel like you are able to ask your questions alone or you do not feel satisfied with the answers you are getting, then this is when you should seek support.
There are set guidelines that should be followed during labour. These guidelines are complex, but a solicitor can quickly assess whether it appears the care you received may not have been following them.
Is there a time limit to make a maternity compensation claim?
Usually, the time limit to begin a claim when an adult with full mental capacity is injured is three years from the date of negligence or the date you were aware of the negligence.
When a baby is injured the time limit is extended – effectively to their 21st birthday (Three years after they become an adult at 18). For someone who does not have mental capacity (the ability to make their own decisions), the time limits do not apply.
If you are unsure if you can still make a claim, we are happy to offer advice. Please do get in touch.
Is legal aid available for maternity negligence claims?
There are various options available for funding a maternity negligence claim, including Legal Aid where a child has suffered a neurological injury during pregnancy, childbirth or soon after birth.
No win, no fee arrangements and other options for covering costs without facing large financial risks are also available.
Find out more via: How much will it cost me to bring a claim?
More information about pregnancy and maternity negligence claims
Our ‘frequently asked questions’ section provides lots of further information relevant to maternity negligence claims.
- How do you prove a medical negligence claim?
- How long do negligence claims take?
- Does claiming compensation take money from the NHS?
If you have further questions please do get in touch. We are happy to help.
Speak to our team today
We understand that childbirth injuries to mother are very personal and emotional issues, and we will discuss your claim with you in a sensitive and supportive way.0800 044 8488