Why Parents ask me to Investigate their Stillbirth Claims
Speaking with a solicitor is often a bereaved parent’s last resort. Bringing a claim is never easy. Litigation can sometimes take years to finish and involves parents essentially reliving their experience. So why do parents contact me?
The most common reason is because they want ‘justice’ for their son or daughter. However, I have found that ‘justice’ looks different for each family.
“I don’t want this to happen to another family”
A lot of parents are concerned about the treatment they and their child received and want lessons to be learnt to ensure no other parent has to suffer the way they have.
Although a civil court can only award compensation, once liability has been admitted we always give the client an opportunity to request ‘non-monetary remedies’. This could be:
- A formal apology from the hospital
- Requesting a change in the hospital’s policy and guidance
- Ensuring that additional/regular training is provided to staff
- Request for additional services to be provided to parents in future
Our baby loss team have had a number of cases where a Trust has confirmed changes to the policies and additional training will be given to staff as the direct result of bringing the claim.
One client of mine wrote a personal account of the way her child’s death had impacted her life. She wanted this to be reviewed by all the staff practicing in midwifery/obstetric/neonatal care at the training sessions of the Trust which had let her down. She wanted to raise awareness of how baby death caused by negligence affects a person’s daily life. In this case, the Trust embraced the suggestion and my client was invited to speak about her experience at a training day.
In raising these issues, families are ensuring lessons are being learnt and changes made. Litigation really can be an aid to change.
“I need answers”
Usually families have already gone down the complaints route but still have many unanswered questions as to the circumstances leading to their baby’s death. They want to know the treatment they received was appropriate and if their baby’s death could have been prevented.
When we investigate the prospects of succeeding with a clinical negligence claim, medical experts are instructed. These experts are independent and their duty is to the court. They consider the client’s recollection of events and medical records, and tell us whether they think the treatment was negligent.
Even when we are told by the expert that a death could not have been avoided, some clients find it reassuring to know that nothing more could have been done.
Other clients have described feeling vindicated upon receiving a supportive report as it shows they were right to be concerned, and that employees at the Trust should have listened to their worries.
“I will never be able to return to work, I need financial compensation”
The majority of parents who instruct me have suffered a psychiatric injury as a result of their child’s death. This can have a significant financial impact on every aspect of their lives in addition to the distress, anxiety and loss they have already suffered.
Some parents will never be able to return to the type of work they were in previously as a consequence of their psychiatric injury. As a result, they can suffer a drop in income that leaves them financially insecure. In these circumstances a claim can be brought for the loss of earnings suffered as a result of the negligence.
If an ‘over-and-above’ level of care has been provided by a relative as a result of the negligence and injury, a claim may be able to be brought for the time spent in providing this care.
In addition, parents who have suffered a psychiatric injury will likely benefit from therapy. The cost of this therapy can be included as part of the claim.
If in doubt, ask a specialist
If you have questions about the medical treatment that was provided to your child, our specialist team are happy to help.
We will fight hard to make sure you get the answers you need, because we understand that compensation is not always the most important part of a claim. Contact us today to find out more.