Stillbirth Medical Negligence Compensation Claims
Stillbirth is the loss or death of a baby during or before delivery of the infant. If you or a relative have been affected by such a tragic event, the impact on you and your family can be devastating.
The UK healthcare system has made significant advances in pregnancy care and neonatal medicine, yet despite this, some babies continue to lose their lives at or soon after birth.
Every day in the UK, around eight babies are stillborn, with about six more neonatal deaths recorded on a typical day, according to the baby loss research charity Tommy's. On average, one in 143 births ends in the death of the child either during labour or within 28 days afterwards, often with no clear cause of death.
Tragically, some of these instances are avoidable and result from human error or clinical negligence either during pregnancy, during delivery, or immediately after birth.
Where you believe medical negligence contributed to the death of your child, Sheldon Davidson Solicitors can help you to make a claim for compensation.
Can I claim compensation for Stillbirth?
Despite all the medical expertise and technology that goes into delivering a baby and caring for it in its early days, some infants, unfortunately, develop significant foetal defects while in the womb, which makes the chances of survival highly unlikely.
In some instances of stillbirth and neonatal death, it is possible that certain failures by healthcare providers may have contributed to what happened.
Some examples of this include:
- Failure to provide oxygen to a baby deprived of air during birth.
- Inadequate monitoring of the baby during labour.
- Missed infections in mother or child during pregnancy.
If you believe your baby was stillborn because of failures in the care you received due to the negligence of medical professionals entrusted with your care and that of your baby, you may have grounds to make a claim for compensation.
We can investigate your case and identify evidence to support your claim. This can include examining your medical records during pregnancy, notes made during labour and birth, and the testimony of expert witnesses where appropriate.
Should I make a claim?
The death of a child at any stage, from early pregnancy through to birth and the first days of their life, is a traumatic event that you might find difficult to talk about.
No amount of money could ever fully compensate you for your loss, but by taking legal action against those responsible, the emotional suffering you have endured will be recognised to the full extent of the law.
In doing so, you also raise concerns about the quality of healthcare provided to expectant mothers by the team or individual who treated you - and this can lead to important changes in policy and procedure to prevent the same mistakes being made again in the future.
In some cases, a traumatic birth can also cause injury to the mother. A compensation claim can also reflect this, firstly compensating the mother for the pain and suffering caused but also including recompense for other factors.
Making a compensation claim does not prevent you from also making a direct complaint to your healthcare provider, which can also trigger an enquiry into the circumstances of your case and whether any lessons can be learned from it.
Why choose Sheldon Davidson Solicitors?
At Sheldon Davidson Solicitors we have worked on many cases of stillbirth, neonatal death and other birth injuries and we offer a supportive and sympathetic service.
We can help you to focus on the material circumstances of your case and investigate whether a compensation claim is an appropriate way to proceed.
Because we work on a no-win, no-fee basis, our clients are able to get the support they need, without having to worry about the costs of legal representation.
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors was established in 1997 and we are proud of the reputation we have developed during the years since, working with clients across England and Wales.
We aim for the highest standards when handling the process of medical negligence claims, surpassed only by the personal service we strive give all clients, these standards are demonstrated by our status as a Lexcel-accredited law firm.
In all cases, we provide valuable peace of mind, by handling your claim with the professional approach you would expect of a highly rated and reputable solicitor.
When can I claim?
If you do not claim compensation immediately after losing a baby, it is essential to be aware of the time limits that apply to making a claim for medical negligence.
Stillbirth compensation claims can generally be made up to three years after the following:
- The date you received negligent care during your pregnancy.
- The date of your child's death.
- The date you became aware that your treatment was negligent.
In most cases, the date of death is the determining factor. However, if you only later discover that clinical negligence contributed to your child's death, for example, because a post-mortem indicates signs of negligent care or practice, then you have up to three years from that date to claim.
If it is already some time since your child's death, we would recommend that you talk to our team at the earliest opportunity, as we will be able to best advise you on your rights.
What are stillbirth and neonatal deaths?
Stillbirth and neonatal deaths have clear legal definitions, based around the timing of death before, at or after birth:
- Stillbirth: Your baby dies before or during birth and after 24 or more weeks of pregnancy.
- Neonatal death: Your baby is alive at birth but dies within 28 days.
Death during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy is defined as a miscarriage. Birth injuries may also contribute to your child's death after more than 28 days of life.
We can help you to decide if you can make a medical negligence claim under any of the circumstances outlined above.
Causes of stillbirth
The reason for stillbirth is unknown in as many as 60% of cases, but there are some potential causes that can be easier to diagnose.
For example, these can include:
- High blood pressure: Hypertension can endanger both mother and child, so it is important that the mother's blood pressure is checked throughout pregnancy.
- Oxygen deprivation: Anything that decreases oxygen supply to the baby can increase the risk of stillbirth, from smoking and drinking during pregnancy, to traumatic labour.
- Placental abruption: The placenta detaches from the uterus wall, depriving the baby of essential nutrients.
While natural events in the womb and in part due to the health and physical condition of the mother can lead to all of the above, careful monitoring and intervention by healthcare providers can still ensure delivery of a healthy baby.
As such, even if a child dies of natural causes before, during or immediately after birth, there may still be grounds to make a claim for compensation, if you feel that parts of your antenatal care were below the standard expected.
What happens after a stillbirth?
Procedural events after stillbirth can be relevant to your case and the compensation you claim.
You should be offered a post-mortem to try and determine the cause of death. If you take this option, the results can provide valuable insight into any events that contributed to the death of your baby. This insight may provide strong evidence to support a claim for medical negligence. evidence, especially if the post-mortem finds an unnatural or avoidable cause of death.
Unfortunately, families can also encounter costs associated with a stillbirth. These can be wide and varied but could include the mother's loss of earnings during her physical recovery, as well as the cost of the child's funeral.
It is also, unfortunately, the case that parents can go on to suffer from depression, or experience other mental health challenges. The full extent of the impact of such a tragic event, both in the present and into the future, must be considered when the damage caused is being evaluated.
Making a stillbirth compensation claim
We know that in the days immediately following the death of a child, you might find it difficult to talk about the circumstances in detail.
However, it is important to record your experiences as soon as possible after the incident, so that you can remember as much as possible about the care you received and any evidence of negligent treatment from your healthcare providers.
Try to remember and record significant dates and any healthcare advice you were given. Keep copies (and originals, where possible) of any documents that were provided to you.
We can investigate your case, obtain evidence from your medical notes, and recommend expert witnesses such as obstetricians where appropriate.
Together, this may help to demonstrate if you received sub-standard care during your pregnancy and labour, and provide evidence of negligent acts by doctors or nurses.
Contact Sheldon Davidson Solicitors
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors are based in Manchester and we work with clients across the region including Bury, Bolton, Prestwich, Oldham, Rochdale and Radcliffe, and beyond.
Our team have huge experience in handling all forms of birth injury claims and we represent clients throughout England and Wales and offer free initial consultations and claim assessments.
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors can act on a no-win, no fee basis. This means there is no financial risk to you in the unlikely event that your claim does not succeed once we have started the process of making a claim.
There is also no obligation on you, should you wish to have an informal discussion with us surrounding your circumstances. If you are not yet sure whether to proceed with making a claim, or you want a second opinion on whether you have grounds to claim compensation, please get in touch and we can give an honest, expert opinion based on your circumstances.
You can contact us by telephone, email or SMS using the details on our Contact Us page, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will call you back at a convenient time to talk about your case.
Again, we understand the trauma of losing a child and we are here to support you throughout your medical negligence claim so that you know you are in safe hands.