Is it possible that my wife and I would be able to claim compensation for a still birth death to account for the terrible grief we have recently been through?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
You will only be able to claim compensation for a still birth death if it can be proven that your baby died due to medical negligence either during your wife´s pregnancy or immediately prior to the still birth of your baby. Understandably, this is a very difficult time for you and your wife, but because there are so many possible reasons for the still birth of your baby – some of which would have been unavoidable – it would be in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your family tragedy with a solicitor as soon as feel able.
The solicitor would listen to you and your wife explain how the pregnancy was progressing, the feedback you had received from nursing staff who had performed scans on your wife and other pre-natal procedures, and try to establish where a negligent action – or lack of action – may have taken place. If the solicitor believes that you have a claim for a stillborn birth due to negligence, your solicitor would then write to each of the medical practitioners involved in your wife´s pregnancy and hospital treatment to obtain their notes on the care provided for your wife.
These notes would be reviewed by an independent medical expert to determine if at any point during your wife´s pregnancy there was an indication which was overlooked that all was not well with the foetus, if a misdiagnosis or misinterpretation of a test had been made, or if any medication was prescribed for your wife which may have harmed your baby while it was in the womb. If ‘on the balance of probabilities’ an alternative course of action could have been taken during your wife´s pregnancy which would have preserved the life of your baby, the expert will advise your solicitor, who will then give you the option of proceeding with a claim for a stillborn birth due to negligence.
Compensation for a still birth death is awarded to you and your wife on the basis of any injury you might have sustained which is directly attributable to the still birth of your baby. The only physical injuries you are likely to have sustained in such a heartbreaking scenario will more than likely be brought on by the severe emotional trauma you have suffered. Therefore your solicitor will ask you and your wife to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order that the levels of psychological injury you have both sustained can be established and accounted for in a claim for a stillborn birth due to negligence.
Claiming compensation for a still birth death is not a pleasant experience, and there will be times when you or your wife feel that it is too much for you to handle so soon after the event. However, there is a time limit on how long you have available in which to claim for a stillborn birth due to negligence and certain procedures have to be completed before that time limit expires. Therefore, if you believe that you have a claim for compensation for a still birth death due to medical negligence, you are advised to contact a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.