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Pregnancy and birth injury claims

Pregnancy and child birth is an exciting and emotive time. It is also a time of anxiety and a time during which the expectant mother may feel vulnerable and reliant upon the medical advice and care provided to her. From the time that a woman first realises that she is pregnant until the birth of her child, she will be monitored by a team of midwives and obstetricians to ensure that she and her baby are healthy and that things progress normally and as smoothly as possible. For most people, this period will pass without significant complication but sometimes complications do occur. When complications arise it is important that they are recognised and responded to correctly by the treating midwives and doctors to ensure the safety of both mother and baby.

If you have concerns about the treatment that you received during your pregnancy and child birth and if you or your baby has been injured as a result then you may have grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.

Types of birth injury compensation claims

Pregnancy and birth injuries can take many forms:

Injuries during pregnancy


This is a relatively common but potentially life-threatening complication in pregnancy. It is caused by a defect in the placenta. It is easily diagnosable through regular antenatal checks on the mother’s urine and blood pressure. If allowed to progress unrecognised, preeclampsia can in the most serious cases, result in the death of the baby or mother or both. Sadly, there is no cure for preeclampsia, but it is a condition which should be recognised and very carefully monitored throughout pregnancy.

It may reach the point where an Obstetrician must weigh up the risks of inducing birth and delivering a premature baby against the risk of continuing with the pregnancy. The patient must be correctly advised and have the risks carefully explained. If the condition is not diagnosed or responded to correctly, the result can be devastating. We have successfully helped patients win compensation where this condition was not treated correctly.

Non-diagnosis of gestational diabetes

This is another well recognised and not uncommon complication of pregnancy. The mother can develop diabetes during her pregnancy. Certain factors increase the risk of this complication arising and where such risks apply the antenatal team should be particularly vigilant. The most common risk factors are maternal obesity and family history.

“Gestational diabetes”, as it is known, poses a serious threat to the health of both mother and baby and in some tragic cases can result in stillbirth. It is easily diagnosed and treated. Midwives, GPs or Obstetricians can detect high protein and glucose levels by way of routine urine and blood tests. Once diagnosed, diabetes can be treated with medication to ensure that the pregnancy progresses normally and that both mother and baby are healthy following delivery.

We have pursued claims for women whose gestational diabetes has not been diagnosed and treated and has resulted in injury or, in very sad cases, stillbirth of the baby and consequential psychiatric injury to the mother.

Injuries during childbirth

Complications during childbirth are sadly not uncommon. They are not always a result of medical negligence but in some cases, the complications are avoidable and should not occur. Complications during birth can result in damage to either the mother or the baby and, in some cases, to both. Many different complications can arise, but some of the most common ones are described below:

Perineal injury

Unfortunately, many women suffer injury during childbirth and one of the most common injuries is a tear to the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus). There are different levels of severity of tear ranging from 1st – 4th degree. In most cases, these tears are unavoidable and are recognised correctly at the time of delivery. Correct recognition and treatment of even serious tears can, for the most part, limit the consequences to short term problems.

However, sometimes very severe tears can occur due to failures in care (such as the failure to intervene appropriately). Such tears can have much longer lasting consequences. In other cases, serious tears may go unrecognised and untreated, resulting in devastating and traumatic consequences including pain, loss of sensation and incontinence.

We have pursued many successful claims for mothers who have experienced these life-altering complications of childbirth, and secured compensation to cover the costs of private remedial surgery and treatments which can often be very expensive.

Retained placenta

After a baby is delivered, the treating Obstetrician or midwife must ensure that the placenta is also delivered. If the placenta (or even a proportion of it) is retained within the womb, it can cause the mother to develop an infection. Such infections can often lead to more serious complications, in the most extreme cases necessitating hysterectomy and causing infertility. We have acted for women who have suffered such complications and have recovered compensation from hospitals who have failed to carry out this basic post-delivery check.

Injury through assisted delivery

If a labour fails to progress and the baby becomes stuck, the treating midwives and Obstetricians may have to carry out an “assisted delivery” using Ventouse or forceps. Inappropriate application or excessive force when using these devices can sometimes cause injury to mother (including perineal injury) and/or baby. We have represented many women and children who have suffered these unpleasant complications and sustained injury and scarring as a result.

Child brain injuries

We also act on the behalf of parents whose children have suffered a brain injury (such as cerebral palsy or erb’s palsy) as a result of oxygen deprivation or trauma during childbirth. These types of cases can be very complex, so it’s essential to instruct a medical negligence

Frequently asked questions

How do I make a claim?

There are numerous ways you can contact Clarke Willmott if you want to discuss your compensation claim with us. You can go through our website and access a form there and we will get back to you or you can simply telephone us, all of the numbers are available on our website and we’ll speak to you as soon as we can.

In reality, not every claim is worth pursuing – some cases are simply too complicated or expensive and have a poor chance of success. Start by seeking advice from one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors. The initial consultation is free and will help you understand whether your claim is likely to have a positive outcome for you.

How can I pay for the expenses of my claim?

One of the big things that concerns people when thinking about contacting a lawyer is how much is it going to cost them. And what we can do, is we can reassure you on that at the very start because we will be looking for the best solution for you. That can include working with you to see if you’ve already got any existing insurance cover that will cover your legal costs.

The alternative and most common way that we proceed with cases is on a no win, no fee basis. Which means that  there is little or no risk to the client. They are regulated by our regulator and so you can guarantee that it will be a proper product, you’ll be given full advice at the outset so that you can decide whether you want to proceed, but financially there should be very little risk, in fact no risk to you.

It’s important to consider how you’re going to pay your legal expenses especially as the cost of pursuing a medical negligence claim can be high. However, there are funding options available that could help reduce the expense, such as an existing insurance policy covering claims of this nature, a Conditional Fee Agreement (often called ‘no win no fee’) or legal aid.

Before you embark on your claim, we will talk you through:

  • The potential cost of pursuing your medical negligence claim
  • What percentage of these costs you might get back
  • What funding options are available to you.

How much compensation could I get?

In terms of thinking about how much compensation you will get, it’s important to note that every case is different. In our jurisdiction, we have a system that’s what we call a compensatory system. The object of bringing the claim is to put you back in the same position you would have been in, as best money can, as if you’ve never had the accident. So it’s impossible to say for any given case at the outset how much money people will get.

What we will do is we will look at all sorts of things that make up the value of the claim. So if you’ve been unable to work and had a loss of earnings, we’ll calculate that. We’ll make sure that we’re getting good advice from experts as to the cost of all the equipment, prosthetics, wheelchairs and everything else that you might need. We’ll also be able to include things like the claim for costs for care and assistance, for things that you can no longer mange yourself. But as I say, every case is individually assessed, and we will look at your case on an individual basis.

Every case is different, but here are some examples of compensation awarded to our clients:

  • £8.6 million – awarded to a child with cerebral palsy resulting from negligence during birth.
  • £1.5 million – awarded to a client who suffered a stroke due to negligence following a heart bypass procedure.
  • £500,000 – awarded to a family whose child suffered brain damage after a GP negligently failed to refer them to hospital.
  • £220,000 – awarded to a client who faced a delay in the treatment and diagnosis for a malignant melanoma.

If I have a claim, how long will it take?

ne thing that concerns people who are bringing a claim is how long it’s all going to take? When are they going to get their compensation.  And there is really two things to say about that. The first is this: If we can establish liability on your behalf, we can prove that someone else is at least partly to blame for your injuries, we can usually get interim payments on account of damages quite quickly so we can start to help you with financial concerns or to fund the things that you need at the earliest part of your case.

In terms of how long the whole claim will take, that is actually very dependant upon the medical position and how well you are going to recover from your injuries and when we’re going to know how well you’ve recovered from your injuries. Everybody’s injury is different. Some people can reach a final position within a matter of a few months or a year or so, other people require much more lengthy rehabilitation, perhaps a number of other medical procedures. And this is important because we will only want to try to settle your claim when we can reasonably predict the future. And in doing so, that makes sure that we get the right level of compensation for you.

Contact a medical negligence solicitor

If you need legal advice about making a pregnancy or birth negligence claim call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

Your key contacts

Kerry Fifield

Partner and Clinical Negligence Team Manager

Kerry’s primary focus is the needs of the client and their family when pursuing a claim, taking into account that each client is an individual with specific requirements who needs to be supported in addition to the legal investigation.
View profile for Kerry Fifield >

Marguarita Tyne

Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Marguarita Tyne is a claimant clinical negligence solicitor who investigates and brings claims on behalf of patients who have been injured during the course of their medical treatment, acting mainly (but not exclusively) for brain injury claimants in high value and often complex litigation.
View profile for Marguarita Tyne >

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