Is it possible to claim still birth death compensation in Ireland for the significant grief my wife experienced when our child was stillborn?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

Still birth death compensation is a complicated area of claims law and compensation for a stillborn death can only be claimed if there has been a proven incidence of medical negligence which has resulted in an injury to the mother – a parent cannot claim compensation for any trauma suffered by their unborn infant.

In order to be eligible to claim still birth death compensation in Ireland, the parents – with the assistance of a medical expert – will need to show that “on the balance of probabilities” a still birth death occurred due to obstetric medical negligence or hospital medical negligence.

These incidences of negligence may be errors made in the diagnosis of a health condition affecting the infant or the mother, inattentive doctors and nurses who should have recognised health problems and taken action, faulty ultra-sound equipment giving a false reading or the lack of action taken in hospital prior to delivery which could have prevented a still birth from occurring.

Even if medical negligence is established in support of a claim for stillbirth death compensation, it is still necessary that the mother has sustained an injury. In your question you mention that your wife has suffered a significant amount of grief. This is both understandable and natural and could be recognised as a quantifiable psychological trauma in some circumstances.

Still birth death compensation claims for psychological injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be successful; however it is necessary to prove that the psychological injuries are due to the negligence which lead to the still birth and not due to the highly traumatic experience of the still birth itself. When there are accompanying physical injuries, the chances of a claim for stillbirth death compensation being successful are greater.

In some cases of stillbirth in Ireland, there is no explanation about why a child is stillborn. It will not be possible to claim stillbirth death compensation if an explanation cannot be found or if your wife has not suffered a quantifiable injury. It is therefore recommended that you speak with an experienced solicitor to discuss your personal situation and investigate whether you and your wife will qualify for still birth death compensation.

We are sorry for your loss.