I understand that children can claim compensation for difficult birth medical negligence when they have sustained an avoidable injury during the delivery process, but what about the mother if she sustains an avoidable injury?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

If a mother has sustained an avoidable injury during the delivery process, she has the same rights as her child to claim compensation for difficult birth medical negligence – with the only difference being that a mother´s claim must be made within two years of the injury being identified. However there are issues associated with a mother claiming compensation for medical negligence at birth as there is a considerable element of pain in giving birth and, through the elation of bringing a new life into the world, injuries received at the time are rarely acknowledged or reported.

If an injury has been sustained during the delivery of a child and noticed after the event, it still has to be determined that the cause of the injury was medical negligence during a difficult birth. It may be possible for an expert physician to establish whether medical negligence has occurred by reviewing your medical records and seeing if the difficult birth could have been prevented in advance, if a procedure was carried out during the delivery which “in the circumstances and at the time” was inappropriate to the circumstances, or whether the medical procedure was appropriate but poorly performed.

Once it has been established that “on the balance of probabilities” you sustained an injury during the delivery process which could have been avoided had greater care been taken either prior to or during the delivery of your child, you will be entitled to claim difficult birth medical negligence compensation; however, as the Injuries Board Ireland declines to assess cases which relate to medical negligence, you will have to engage the services of a medical negligence solicitor to pursue compensation for difficult birth medical negligence on your behalf.

Once medical negligence has been established, the solicitor – who would also arrange for the expert physician to review your medical records and identify the medical practitioner(s) responsible for your injury – will write a Letter of Claim to the medical practitioner and inform them that you are claiming difficult birth medical negligence compensation. If your solicitor has prepared a sufficiently strong claim for compensation for difficult birth medical negligence, the medical practitioner will be invited to make an offer of settlement.

Although the medical practitioner may be willing to accept liability for your injury, it is their medical insurance company who settle claims for compensation for medical negligence at birth. This may mean that you are approached directly by the medical practitioner´s medical insurance company with an offer of difficult birth medical negligence compensation. Direct approaches from insurance companies should be treated with caution, as the full consequences of your birth injury may not yet be known and you may accept an inappropriate settlement by mistake.

If you allow your solicitor to take care of every aspect of your claim for compensation for medical negligence at birth, you can be assured of receiving a full and adequate settlement within an acceptable time.