Any instance of medical negligence can have devastating effects, on both the victim and their family. Obstetric negligence, or birth injuries, are particularly serious with effects that can last a lifetime.
Some injuries, such as swelling or bruising, will heal quickly without causing any real difficulty to the mother or baby. More serious injuries can be caused by errors in treatment or failures to act by medical staff. Examples include failing to notice dangerous conditions in either mother or child and inadequate care during deliveries.
Birth injuries can cover a wide spectrum of injuries. Some, such as broken bones, will be immediately obvious. Others, including cerebral palsy, may take time to become apparent. Often the full extent of the injuries will only become apparent as a child grows up.
Damages in obstetric negligence cases are often significant. Recent figures show that in the year 2019-2020 the total damages paid to injured claimants by the NHS were £1.2 billion. The reason for this is that although the number of claims is relatively low, the effects are severe. Any damages awarded may need to cover the cost of lifelong care, adaptations to homes, assistive equipment and future treatment.
If you are bringing a claim against the NHS for birth injuries, the claim will be brought against the relevant hospital trust rather than the members of medical staff. The claim will then be handled by NHS Resolution. If the claim arises from private medical treatment then the claim will be made against the treating clinician. Under GMC guidelines, doctors are required to have appropriate insurance in place. In such cases, the case will be dealt with by the insurer or their solicitors.
There are time limits for making claims for birth injuries. When a child sustains an injury, the general rule is that they have three years from their 18th birthday to make a claim. If the child is under 18 their claim can be brought by a parent or guardian, who will act as a litigation friend and make decisions in the claim on the child’s behalf.
Field Overell LLP are experienced with dealing with medical negligence claims. We have assisted clients throughout Coventry and Warwickshire. Contact our offices on 024 7622 9582 to discuss your claim with one of our expert solicitors.
This article is provided for information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. No reliance should be placed on this article. You should always take legal advice from a qualified lawyer before deciding whether to pursue legal action.