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Birth injury claims icon with midwife and baby

All people who are pregnant should expect that their child will be delivered safely. They should also be able to expect that they can emerge from the birthing experience having received professional, comprehensive medical care and attention. But for some people, pregnancy and birth can be one of the most challenging, difficult, and potentially traumatic experiences of their life due to complications associated with the birth of their child as a result of medical negligence.

In 2018, a Brisbane mother was prescribed penicillin during her pregnancy. The prescribed medication caused a serious anaphylactic reaction which resulted in the premature birth of her son. She lodged a claim against her obstetrician and the hospital for the potentially negligent act due to the fact that her son was born with cerebral palsy and other associated medical complications. In 2021, a Queensland lady who was 34 weeks pregnant experienced a ruptured appendix and has lodged a claim that that delayed diagnosis of appendicitis caused a traumatic emergency cesarean delivery.

While these types of cases are relatively rare, occasions of negligence do happen. When your child or you are injured during pregnancy or birth, there may be lifelong consequences which require additional financial support. A claim for compensation can help to ensure that the additional financial burden is eased and can give you the peace of mind knowing you will have what you need to care for yourself or your child’s needs.

If you suspect, believe, or know that you have experienced negligent medical treatment which has resulted in an injury to you or your child then you may be able to make a birthing injury compensation claim against the negligent party. Free initial advice is available from our team of no win, no fee injury lawyers.

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Medical negligence and failure to detect birth defects

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A birth defect, also sometimes also called a ‘congenital anomaly’ or ‘congenital disorder’, refers to a condition within a child whose bodily function/structure deviates from a baseline level of usual function/structure. A birth defect can be major or minor. Birth defects are also a leading cause of death in infants, whether stillborn or shortly after birth. 

The decision to continue a pregnancy once a birth defect is a very personal decision but remains with the parents. A practitioner may fail to detect a birth defect resulting in a pregnancy coming to full term but had the abnormality had been detected the parents would have terminated the pregnancy. If the failure to detect the birth defect arose from medical negligence, the parents may have a claim for compensation.

Structural birth defects can include:

Functional birth defects can include:

  • Down syndrome - a genetic condition where people have an extra chromosome
  • Haemophilia - a bleeding disorder whereby sufferers have a deficient protein in the blood which leads to lack of clotting
  • Cerebral palsy - can be caused by an infant being deprived of oxygen during birth (also known as a ‘hypoxic ischemic injury at birth’), or due to the pregnant person having preeclampsia (high blood pressure)

There are also various potential birth complications that can be caused by negligence during pregnancy or childbirth. You may have been prescribed medication or experienced a medical condition during your pregnancy which has resulted in a birth defect. In some cases, a birth defect is genetic and is not caused by anything externally, but the failure by medical practitioners to detect certain conditions through testing and providing options for treatment or care might be considered negligent. If this has happened to you, you may be able to seek compensation for your baby’s injuries and potential future care needs.

Birth injuries to babies due to negligence

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Giving birth can be very traumatic on the body, both for the person giving birth and for the baby being born. A birth injury is any type of physical injury experienced during childbirth. A birth injury can affect the baby, the person giving birth, or both.

Common birth injuries include:

  • Brain injuries and brain-related injuries such as brain damage due to a deprivation of oxygen to the baby, brain haemorrhage, or brain ischemia
  • Physical injuries such as bruises and broken bones (such as a broken clavicle birth injury), fractures, dislocated bones, spinal cord injuries, cuts and other birthing injuries
  • Developmental injuries which were caused during pregnancy, and which were caused by infection or incorrectly prescribed medication

These are injuries which can be caused due to negligent medical care and attention, and which could have been avoided by having appropriate medical care from a competent midwife or doctor, or through moving to an emergency cesarean section procedure at the right time. If you have received medical treatment that is negligent and which has resulted in a birth injury to your child, speak to our medical negligence solicitors about your birth injury case today.

Stillbirths and neonatal deaths due to negligence

Stillbirth, also known as fetal death, is the tragic and devastating loss of a baby from 20 weeks’ gestation or 400 grams of weight (when the gestation is unknown). Neonatal death refers to the tragic loss of an infant within 28 days of birth. Tragically, there were 4,263 stillbirths in Australia between 2015 and 2016, with 60% of all stillbirths occurring between 20-26 weeks.

Risk factors causing or associated with stillbirth include:

  • Pre-pregnancy weight with a BMI over 25
  • Trauma or physical injury during pregnancy
  • Infection during pregnancy including rubella or syphilis
  • High blood pressure in the pregnant person
  • Structural, functional or chromosomal abnormality

If you have experienced the devastating loss of your child at birth, and their death was potentially caused by the negligence of your medical professional then you may be able to make a claim for compensation for any psychological injury sustained because of your loss.

Injuries suffered to a person during childbirth due to negligence

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Giving birth can often result in physical trauma. You have potential tearing and physical injury if you have given birth vaginally, and you may have associated potential complications if your birth was via cesarean section. Birth injury claims can be made if you have received negligent medical treatment which has resulted in a lasting injury.

Potential injuries suffered during childbirth include:

  • Damage to the perineal area - including a deliberate episiotomy (a deliberate cut made to widen the vagina) or perineal tear
  • Nerve damage to the vaginal area
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Muscle damage to the bladder and bowel
  • Pelvic muscle prolapses
  • PTSD and trauma due to a stressful or potentially harmful birth

If you have been advised in medical care to do something in labour that is potentially harmful, such as pushing or labouring for too long, this can be considered medical malpractice and can result in some of the conditions listed above. 

Your medical professional has a duty of care to provide medical care that is reasonably and appropriately skillful. If a negligent medical provider has caused injury to you, then speak to our birth injury lawyers about how we can help you with your medical negligence claims.

What do birth injury claims cover?

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A birth injury claim is designed to put you in the position you would be in - at least financially - as if the injury had not occurred. What this means is that if you are injured physically, or your baby is injured physically, your compensation claim will include financial cover for medical expenses and treatment that is necessary as a result of the injury. 

You will also be potentially covered for any lost income or financial loss incurred - such as missed superannuation - due to being unable to work. While nothing can compensate for the irreplaceable loss that you feel as a result of your pregnancy and birth being impacted by medical negligence, compensation can go some way towards easing the financial burden that you may now undergo.

Birth injury claims include:

  • Medical expenses and bills associated with an injury
  • Ongoing care and treatment costs
  • In home care
  • Family counselling and psychological services
  • Non-financial damages including emotional distress and pain and suffering
  • A loss of ability to work, either in your chosen profession, or at all

A medical negligence injury claim can be made with our compensation lawyers providing the support and care you need to get through what can be a hugely traumatic and difficult time.

It is important to seek legal advice for your birth injury claim as soon as you feel that you are able to. When it comes to a birth injury claim or an infant birth injury claim, there is specific medical information that will need to be gathered in support of your claim. Some of this information is time-sensitive, and other information requires diagnosis and monitoring from an early age. In any event, when you seek legal advice you will be able to get the support and guidance you need to make a potentially successful claim with our compensation lawyers.

Time limits for birth injury claims

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When making a claim for a birth injury you will have to ensure that your claim is within the appropriate time limits for your compensation claims. Read more about the specific time limits associated with your potential personal injury claim.

Our compensation lawyers can give you legal advice about your personal injury claim and are here to support you during this most difficult of times. Speak to us today about getting your free initial advice from our Queensland personal injury experts and find out where you stand with your birth injury compensation claim.

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