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Maternity Negligence Claim: No Win, No Fee

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Pregnancy and birth are significant times in a woman’s life when she may be feeling a variety of emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. Due to the complexities and high-risk stakes of pregnancy, many women place their trust and care in the hands of experienced medical professionals.

Unfortunately, many women’s maternity care falls below the standard of good practice, which can ultimately have heartbreaking and distressing consequences for both the mother and the baby.

If you are considering making a claim for maternity negligence, then you should get in touch with a specialist personal injury solicitor with experience in medical negligence claims, such as our team at Beacon Law. Our solicitors are understanding of the sensitive nature of maternity negligence claims and will guide you through the entire process with empathy and understanding.

Types of maternity negligence claims

Birth injury claims

Birth injuries and negligence claims include both the mother and the baby and refer to any harm or damage that occurs during the labour and delivery process. These injuries can range from minor, temporary injuries to severe, permanent disabilities. Birth injuries can occur due to various factors, including medical negligence and complications during labour and delivery.

Some of the most common birth injuries include:

  • Brachial Plexus Injuries: This type of injury occurs when the nerves that control movement and sensation in the arm are stretched, torn, or damaged during childbirth. One well-known brachial plexus injury is Erb’s palsy, which can cause weakness or paralysis in the arm.
  • Cerebral PalsyCerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, coordination, and muscle tone. It can be caused by brain damage that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. Oxygen deprivation or trauma during delivery are common factors associated with cerebral palsy.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): HIE occurs when the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen and blood flow during or shortly after birth. This can lead to long-term brain damage and neurological deficits, including developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and seizures.
  • Skull Fractures or Intracranial Hemorrhage: Trauma to the baby’s head during delivery can result in skull fractures or bleeding inside the skull (intracranial haemorrhage), which may lead to brain damage or other complications.
  • Birth Asphyxia: This occurs when the baby’s oxygen supply is compromised during labour and delivery, leading to potential brain damage or other serious complications.
  • Perineal Tears: Perineal tears are common during childbirth, especially for first-time mothers or those delivering larger babies. These tears can range from minor to severe, with varying degrees of pain and discomfort. In some cases, extensive fourth-degree tears may require surgical repair.
  • Uterine Rupture: In rare cases, the uterus may rupture during labour, particularly in women who have had previous caesarean section deliveries or other uterine surgeries. Uterine rupture is a medical emergency that can lead to severe bleeding, maternal shock, and fetal distress, requiring immediate intervention.
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage: Excessive bleeding after childbirth, known as postpartum haemorrhage, can occur due to various factors, including retained placental tissue, uterine atony, or lacerations. Postpartum haemorrhage can be life-threatening if not promptly diagnosed and treated.

 

Pregnancy negligence

Pregnancy negligence refers to situations where medical staff fail to provide the expected standard of care during prenatal care, potentially leading to harm to the mother, baby, or both. Negligence can occur from any healthcare professional, from doctors to midwives, and something as simple as failing to check a test result can result in significant harm to the patients.

Some common examples of negligence during pregnancy include:

  • Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose Conditions: Healthcare providers may fail to diagnose or appropriately manage conditions such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, ectopic pregnancies or infections during pregnancy, which can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby.
  • Failure to Provide Adequate Prenatal Care: This could involve neglecting to perform necessary tests or screenings during prenatal visits or failing to monitor the mother’s and baby’s health adequately throughout the pregnancy.
  • Failure to Address High-Risk Pregnancies: In cases where a pregnancy is considered high-risk due to factors such as maternal age, medical treatments and history, or preexisting health conditions, healthcare providers may fail to provide appropriate management and monitoring, increasing the risk of complications.
  • Medication Errors: Prescribing incorrect medications or incorrect dosages during pregnancy can have severe consequences for both the mother and the developing fetus.

 

Miscarriage negligence

Sadly, not all pregnancies will result in a healthy baby at the end of 9 months. 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK unfortunately results in miscarriage, the loss of a baby before 24 weeks gestation. While many miscarriages happen naturally for reasons out of anyone’s control and understanding, some miscarriages may occur due to negligent care or treatment.

Instances in which clinical negligence may contribute to or exacerbate the risk of miscarriage include:

  • Failure to Diagnose or Treat Underlying Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, or autoimmune diseases, can increase the risk of miscarriage. Healthcare providers may fail to diagnose or adequately manage these conditions during pregnancy, leading to complications and potentially resulting in miscarriage.
  • Inadequate Prenatal Care: Lack of appropriate prenatal care, including failure to perform necessary tests or screenings, can contribute to the risk of miscarriage. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to monitor the health of both the mother and the fetus throughout pregnancy and to address any potential concerns promptly.
  • Mismanagement of Complications/Delayed Treatment: Complications during pregnancy, such as vaginal bleeding, placental abnormalities, or infections, can increase the risk of miscarriage. Healthcare providers may fail to recognize or appropriately manage these complications, potentially leading to miscarriage.
  • Prescription ErrorsIncorrect medications or dosages prescribed during pregnancy can pose risks to both the mother and the fetus, including the risk of miscarriage. Healthcare providers must carefully consider the potential effects of medications on pregnancy outcomes and avoid prescribing drugs that could increase the risk of miscarriage.

 

Stillbirth and neonatal death

Stillbirth and neonatal death negligence refer to situations where healthcare providers may have failed to provide appropriate care or treatment, leading to the loss of a baby either before or shortly after birth. Both stillbirth (defined as fetal death that occurs after 24 weeks of pregnancy) and neonatal death (death of a newborn within the first 28 days of life) can have devastating emotional and psychological impacts on families. Here are some scenarios where negligence may occur:

  • Failure to Monitor Fetal Health: Healthcare providers have a duty to monitor the health and well-being of both the mother and the fetus throughout pregnancy. Negligence may occur if healthcare providers fail to perform necessary tests or screenings, such as fetal monitoring or ultrasound scans, to assess the baby’s health and detect any signs of distress or complications.
  • Failure to Recognize and Respond to Warning Signs: Certain maternal conditions or pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, or placental abnormalities, can increase the risk of stillbirth or neonatal death. Healthcare providers may fail to recognise or appropriately manage these conditions, leading to adverse outcomes for the baby.
  • Inadequate Management of Labor and Delivery: Negligence during labour and delivery, such as failure to appropriately monitor the progress of labour, failure to recognize signs of fetal distress, or delayed intervention in cases of obstetric emergencies, can increase the risk of stillbirth or neonatal death.
  • Surgical Errors: Complications arising from cesarean sections or other surgical procedures related to childbirth can increase the risk of adverse outcomes, including stillbirth or neonatal death. Errors such as lacerations to the baby or improper suturing may occur during these procedures.

 

What is the process of making a claim?

During your initial consultation, our personal injury solicitors will provide you with legal advice about maternity negligence claims and will inform you about the relevant limitation rules.

Our personal injury lawyers will then ask you for details about your experience and the injuries that you suffered as a result. This will help our injury lawyers to assess the likelihood of your claim being successful. Examples of the relevant information that our lawyers may ask for include the location, time, and date of the negligence, the nature of the personal injuries suffered, details of anyone who may have witnessed the negligence, details of the hospital you received treatment, and the circumstances surrounding the accident.

During these initial stages of your claim for compensation, it is vital that you gather the relevant evidence to support your claim. Relevant evidence will include the medical records detailing your pregnancy and birth.

Your personal injury solicitor may also ask that you undergo an official medical examination with an expert in order to receive medical reports about the injuries that you have sustained. These medical reports will provide vital medical evidence of the nature and extent of your injuries. Even if you have received other medical care prior to starting your personal injury claim, a more thorough medical assessment may still be needed to produce detailed, accurate, and reliable medical reports.

If we think that your maternity negligence compensation claim would be likely to succeed, we will offer to proceed with your claim on a no win no fee basis; if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not be required to pay any legal fees.

The defendant (healthcare trust) will be notified about your claim, after which point they will need to decide whether they accept liability for your injuries. If the defendant accepts liability, negotiations for a settlement fee can commence. If the defendant denies their liability, court proceedings may follow.

How long do you have to make a maternity negligence claim?

In the UK, the time limit for making a maternity negligence claim is generally three years from the date you knew or ought to have known about the negligence, according to The Limitation Act 1980. The time limit starts from the date you became aware of the potential negligence and how it caused harm to you or your baby.

It is worth noting that if the negligence affected your child, they typically have until their 18th birthday to make a claim. In some cases, if the child lacks mental capacity, the time limit may not apply. Otherwise, you or another family member may make a claim on their behalf before their 18th birthday. m

Why choose Beacon Law?

Whilst pursuing a maternity negligence claim, Beacon Law’s medical negligence solicitors can be your source of support and will help you recover the amount of compensation that you deserve for your pain and suffering. We understand that the process of making maternal negligence claims can be complex, so we will be there to guide you every step of the way.

If you or your child have suffered an injury, we believe that you should have access to the best possible medical care and support available, and our personal injury compensation claim solicitors endeavour to provide this to our clients. Due to our association with medical professionals, we are able to provide you with private treatment to assist you in your recovery.

We value each client that we have the pleasure of working with, listen carefully to our clients’ wishes, and will aim to complete your medical negligence claim in a timely manner so that you can receive the compensation that you deserve as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch today if you have suffered an injury due to maternity negligence and wish to discuss your case with a member of our experienced team. You can contact us using the online form below or email us at info@beaconlaw.co.uk.

 

 

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