Baby loss – what can parents claim for?

Woman's hands conveying worry

An avoidable stillbirth or neonatal death is devastating. It has a life-long impact on parents, siblings, wider family and friends. At Enable Law, we know that those who have experienced baby loss are not pursuing legal claims for financial compensation but to obtain answers, find out what happened and why, and to ensure that no other parent and family has to go through the same thing.

No amount of money can change what has happened or compensate for losing a baby. Unfortunately, money is the only legal remedy available to the Court. Even though money often isn’t the main purpose of bringing a claim, it can be used in a positive way to open the door to different forms of private counselling and support.

There are two types of financial compensation available.

General damages

These damages compensate our clients for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity they have suffered as a result of their baby’s stillbirth or neonatal death. They address the non-financial harm that has been suffered. We can put forward a claim for the following:

  • Your pain, suffering and loss of amenity from a recognised psychiatric injury. This needs to be supported by an expert report from an independent psychiatrist or psychologist. The amount of damages is taken from the Judicial College Guideline figures which provide brackets for compensation in relation to specific injuries.
  • Your baby’s pain, suffering and loss of amenity (if your baby passed away shortly after birth)
  • The loss of satisfaction of bringing your pregnancy to a successful conclusion
  • The pain and discomfort of having to go through an additional pregnancy to complete your family
  • The pain and discomfort of having to have a Caesarean section in a subsequent pregnancy, if that is now required
  • Bereavement award – the law sets out that the bereaved should recover a sum to ‘acknowledge’ their loss. This is a fixed sum (£12,980 for any death before 1 May 2020, thereafter £15,120) and is claimed in addition to the amount for pain and suffering

 

Special damages

These are the financial losses that you have suffered and can include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Headstone
  • Layette (money spent in preparation for the birth, such as buying a cot, clothing, pushchair)
  • Counselling following your bereavement
  • Fertility treatment for a subsequent pregnancy
  • Travelling expenses (e.g. to medical appointments, counselling)
  • Private obstetric treatment during a subsequent pregnancy
  • Loss of earnings (e.g. change of hours or role, extended maternity leave, unpaid leave, impact on your career progression)
  • Loss of pension
  • Care and assistance from family members (emotional and practical support with things like domestic tasks)

An infographic giving average settlement amounts for a stillbirth claim

Each claim is unique

Because every parent will find their own way of coping with grief, some of the special damages we have successfully claimed on their behalf have been very different to what we might expect on any other kind of medical negligence claim. Some of the damages included:

  • £7,800 for IVF (C v Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (2017));
  • £100 for tattoo in memory of their baby and £350 for ashes retained to make into a tribute ring (RH v James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2020)).
  • £179 for a book of remembrance, £300 for locket jewellery ((1) C (2) A v Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (2013))
  • £523 for postponed wedding costs due to stillbirth (B v Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2016));

 

using your claim to make a difference for others

When working with clients who have suffered baby loss, if they so wish, we request non-monetary remedies from the Defendant. The non-monetary remedies we seek are very much driven by the families wishes and the changes they want to come out of their baby’s tragic death. We believe that the litigation process can bring about positive change in midwifery and obstetric practices for the future and hopefully save other families from having to go through a similarly traumatic event.

We ask our clients to think about the non-monetary remedies they may wish to seek, for example:

  • A formal written apology
  • Additional training for staff
  • Changes to hospital guidelines and protocols
  • Using their story as a case study for future training

We often find that where a hospital admits there were errors in the care they provided, they will consider our clients’ requests.  Because there is no legal obligation there are no guarantees, but it is always worth asking.

At Enable Law, we are pleased that in the majority of baby loss cases, we have managed to successfully obtain non-monetary remedies for our clients, in addition to the financial compensation. Some examples of these are:

  • Hospital Trust amending guidelines to recommend continuous CTG monitoring for vaginal breech deliveries
  • Trust’s medical system reviewed to allow the clinicians to view the latest scan reports and notes to support decision making
  • Shared learning between Trusts
  • Updated weekly CTG training to include vaginal breech delivery sessions

 

We are here to help

When clients instruct a clinical negligence solicitor it is because they have been let down by the medical profession. We realise that trust is a big issue and we are committed to earning that trust from the families we represent.

We know that:

  • Every family is different
  • Every individual family member is different
  • Every baby’s life matters

We are committed to engaging with charities such as GBSS and striving to effect positive change in every case and with every family we work with.

An increased awareness of Group B Strep, both by parents and by the medical profession, is vital and that is why we at Enable Law have supported the incredible work of GBSS for many years and continue to do so during its 25th year.  You can read more about our work with GBSS on our dedicated Group B Streptococcus page or if you would like to discuss any aspects of your care please contact us.