How long do I have to claim compensation against a hospital consultant if my child suffered birth injuries due to my obstetrician´s negligence?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
Despite the emotional trauma that you have undoubtedly suffered, as it was your child who sustained the injuries at birth, your child would be the injured party who would claim compensation against a hospital consultant.
A legal minor is not allowed to instruct a solicitor until they reach the age of eighteen; therefore, should you choose to represent you son or daughter as a “next friend” in a claim for birth injuries against an obstetrician, you have until their eighteenth birthday to initiate a claim on their behalf. Indeed, if your child has sustained terrible brain injuries due to your obstetrician´s lack of care, they might never have the cognitive ability to represent themselves, and you would also be able to act as a “next friend” in any legal action – at any time – to recover compensation for obstetrician negligence.
At whatever stage you choose to claim compensation against a hospital consultant, you, another parent or a legal guardian will first have to be approved by the District Court. In order to do this, it must be proven that the claim for birth injuries against an obstetrician is in your child´s best interests (for example, it may be too early to establish future care requirements), there is no conflict of interest and that you (or the alternative “next friend”) are prepared to accept the financial liabilities of claiming compensation for obstetrician negligence if your claim ultimately proves to be unsuccessful.
It would undoubtedly be advisable for you to discuss the circumstances of your child´s birth injuries with an experienced medical negligence solicitor sooner rather than later; for although it may be many years before the time limit expires in which to claim compensation against a hospital consultant, it will increase the probability of a successful claim for birth injuries against an obstetrician if evidence of negligence is compiled while it is still recent.
Depending on the age of your child and the degree of your child´s injury, the solicitor may suggest that you make a claim for compensation for obstetrician negligence now, and accept an interim payment of compensation once negligence is acknowledged, rather than agreeing to a final settlement. If your child is likely to require care and support throughout their whole life, it is in the child´s best interests to wait until such time as structured compensation payments are introduced before completely resolving the claim for birth injuries against an obstetrician, in order to give your child financial security when you are no longer able to provide for them.
This is just one option available to you, and you will be advised of the most appropriate course of action to claim compensation against a hospital consultant when you speak with a solicitor.