If both my baby and myself were injured due to childbirth medical negligence, do I make one compensation claim for negligence during childbirth or two?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
In situations such as this, two claims for childbirth medical negligence would be made, with you representing your baby as a “next friend” in order that both claims could run in tandem – at least to the point where negotiations start for the individual settlements of compensation for injuries during childbirth.
It is not unusual for both mother and child to sustain avoidable injuries during childbirth, when medical staff are under-resourced or when your baby has been delivered in an emergency situation; and, in order to establish that you are justified in making a claim, your solicitor would want to discuss with you the medical treatment you received before, during and after the delivery of your baby.
Once the solicitor has heard the circumstance of how you and your baby suffered injuries due to alleged childbirth medical negligence – and if you have not done so already – your solicitor would send a ‘Letter of Complaint’ to the hospital or clinic at which you gave birth and request the relevant notes of all the medical practitioners present at the birth of your child to present to an independent medical expert.
The expert will review the notes to establish whether you and your baby sustained injuries which ‘at the time and in the circumstances’ could have been avoided with greater care and, if a claim for negligence during childbirth is possible, supply your solicitor with the evidence of negligence your solicitor needs to support a ‘Letter of Claim’ in each of the two cases.
Once the letters of claim have been sent, your solicitor would then start to calculate how much compensation for injuries during childbirth you and your child are entitled to. This is where the two cases may have to be separated if your baby has sustained injuries due to childbirth medical negligence for which the full consequences will not be known until he or she is older.
Even if it is possible to settle both claims for childbirth negligence at the same time, your baby´s settlement of compensation for injuries during childbirth will have to be approved by a judge in court before the claim can be resolved completely. Thereafter, you will receive your settlement of compensation from the hospital´s insurers, while the settlement of your child´s claim for negligence during childbirth will be paid into court funds until your son or daughter reaches eighteen years of age.
As you may imagine, handling two claims for childbirth medical negligence in tandem – especially in such delicate circumstances – is substantially more complicated than just one; and therefore it would be in both claims advantage if you were to discuss the circumstances of the negligent medical treatment you and your baby received with a solicitor as soon as possible.